Understanding bushfire community preparedness: latest findings from CFA social research

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A wealth of evidence about the bushfire preparedness of households living in high-risk areas is captured in the annual community post-season survey. This year’s results are now available.


The findings highlight some of the ongoing challenges for engagement, but also some of the very positive outcomes that are being seen across Victoria. They also reveal opportunities to enhance existing approaches based on new and emerging insights.

The 2022 post-season survey involved 600 residents in Victoria living in a variety of high-risk environments. The telephone survey builds on past research to provide an annual snapshot of attitudes, behaviours, preparations and expectations about key aspects of bushfire safety.

The findings have a wide range of uses, including data about community information, engagement and education programs which will contribute to the evaluation of current approaches and the development of new initiatives.

The research is also making a significant contribution to the broader sector’s understanding of human behaviour and decision-making before and during bushfires. This includes recent journal publications and presentations at international forums about ‘wait and see’ and self-evacuation archetypes.

The findings in 2022 reflect a quiet fire season with a softening of community concern about bushfires over the summer months. There has also been a decline in the perception of the preparedness levels of the emergency services. Despite this, levels of trust in CFA remain very high.

The results also highlight the high level of engagement with CFA and partner agencies by households in bushfire-prone areas. Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed had interacted with CFA over the summer months, with many participating in traditional CFA education programs such as Fire Ready Victoria, Community Fireguard and Bushfire Planning Workshops. Safer Together’s Community Based Bushfire Management has emerged as another important approach in the suite of community safety programs.

The full report and a summary presentation will be available soon online. For more information email j.gilbert@cfa.vic.gov.au 


Submitted by John Gilbert