News & Media

CFA Strategy 2013-18: Towards resilience

By: Claire Higgins

  11.00 AM 16 July, 2013

Views: 3169

In early July, the Board signed off the CFA Strategy 2013-18. Its subtitle is ‘Towards resilience' to acknowledge the shared responsibility for planning for and responding to major emergencies. Together with individuals, communities, industry, government and our emergency service partners, we must take a more resilient approach founded on the principle of collaboration.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission identified that traditional approaches to emergency response cannot mitigate their full impact nor take advantage of social and technological changes that can empower communities and make them safer.

Our strategy is based on a shift in thinking. We recognise our vital role as responders to all-hazard emergencies, but a more comprehensive approach is needed in large-scale incidents. Our role is also to energise, equip and partner with all Victorians to prepare for, and survive, major emergencies.

There are eight key factors in our shift in thinking and the first is responding to climate change. The increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather is impacting on the volume and intensity of emergencies. CFA needs to better engage communities so people fully understand their individual and collective risk.

Traditional communication systems are not as rapid and responsive as social networking. Communities receive, share and respond to emergency information via their social networks and it is essential that CFA harnesses this power to deliver our services.

Advances in communications and computer technology is changing the way people - all generations, in the city and country - learn, share information and make decisions. From community education through to our management of emergencies, CFA's programs and services must be technologically connected and move with community expectations and needs.

Communities are no longer just made up of people who live close to each other. Interest-based communities form online, and the members might travel widely to pursue their interests and meet other community members. CFA service delivery has always been place based, but we must link to a broader range of community networks to encourage and sustain membership.

The private and public sectors across Australia have to learn to operate within a tight economy. CFA must maintain public safety while delivering its services more efficiently and with greater flexibility.

With the introduction of Victoria's Fire Services Commissioner and the State Government's Victorian Emergency Management Reform White Paper, CFA must embrace a collaborative sector approach and contribute strongly to the success of future arrangements.

Underpinning the reforms in the White Paper are new governance arrangements designed to provide clear emergency management responsibilities. There are three key principles: the embedding of a collaborative approach; emergency management founded on community participation, resilience and shared responsibility; and capability with an all-hazards all-agencies approach built on networked arrangement, greater interoperability and a stronger emphasis on risk mitigation.

Finally, CFA's shift in thinking moves us from a Victorian-based to a national perspective. The National Disaster Resilience Strategy, adopted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2011, points us in a challenging new direction. Disaster resilience requires a national, coordinated and cooperative effort to build enduring partnerships and achieve long-term behaviour change.

Last Updated: 10 December 2015