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Implementation Monitor Progress Report
Today, the VBRC Implementation Monitor, Neil Comrie, has reported to government on progress made towards realizing the 67 recommendations from the Bushfires Royal Commission.
While we need to take time to consider the 173 page report, the findings are encouraging to all CFA members who have dedicated the past two and a half years to strengthening Victoria's bushfire capacity.
The Implementation Monitor found "there has been considerable progress in the delivery of these actions and the state and its agencies have invested significant resources in responding to the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission".
Mr Comrie also noted there was "no evidence of neglect or lack of commitment in the delivery of these actions".
Among the achievements of the Victorian Government and the three fire agencies are the appointment of Craig Lapsley to the position of Fire Services Commissioner, improved interoperability between the fire services, and an increase in community awareness and information about bushfire safety.
Other achievements include aligning Total Fire Ban (TFB) district boundaries with the nine BOM weather districts, giving the information unit more importance at an Incident Control Centre, the Fire Safe Kids school program, creating the Home Bushfire Advice Service and upgraded Household Bushfire Self Assessment Tool to improve the level of support to homeowners
While much has been achieved, and all CFA members can be proud of what has been done, Mr Comrie also notes that some work has progressed slower than expected including implementing comprehensive Township Protection Plans (which I can report we have made considerable progress on recently), the upgrade of Divisional Command Centres (where we fell slightly short of our one-year target but expect to achieve it very soon) and finding the right solution to our communications needs.
It is also important to note Mr Comrie's concern over anecdotal evidence of a worrying level of ‘public apathy' towards agencies' fire safety initiatives and his suggestion that ‘a long-term social marketing campaign is required to support behavioural change in people who are preparing for and responding to bushfires.'
Within CFA, the organisation is now dedicated to a single mission to protect lives and property. The establishment of the Operational Training and Volunteerism directorate headed by Lex de Man has also strengthened our commitment to our volunteers.
The report also indicated there is much still to be done and many projects require significant energy and resources to be completed successfully.
With our agency partners, I know CFA members will continue to work tirelessly to implement improvements set out by the Royal Commission.