Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Black Saturday anniversary: A time for reflection and recovery

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Minister for housing and Homelessness

Minister for Emergency Management, Robert McClelland MP, and Minister for Families and Community Services Jenny Macklin today marked the third anniversary of 2009 Victorian Bushfires as an occasion for remembering those who died, those who were injured and those displaced by the disaster – as well as looking to keep building a brighter future for the communities still recovering.

“Some three years on, communities devastated by the events of Black Saturday continue in the process of recovery,” said Mr McClelland.

“To date, the Commonwealth has provided more than $468 million to help communities recover from the Victorian Bushfires.

“In November 2011 the Commonwealth agreed to extend Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements so that affected local councils will have until June 2012 to complete recovery and reconstruction activities under the NDRRA,” said Mr McClelland.

In October 2010, the Victorian Government appointed Mr Neil Comrie AO APM as the Bushfire Royal Commission Implementation Monitor (BRCIM) to review and monitor Victoria’s implementation of the recommendations.

The Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission made five recommendations that related either wholly or partly to the Commonwealth and we have supported each of these.

Two of the five recommendations, relating to the use of Commonwealth aerial resources that are suitable for fire-fighting being used on days of high fire risk and providing guidance to councils on bushfire management and environment protection, have already been implemented.

The other three involve ongoing work and relate to:

  • Developing a national bushfire awareness campaign -the Commonwealth is working with states to develop revised National Fire Danger Rating Arrangements to support improved communication with the community about the risk they face from bushfires. This is a significant undertaking that will inform a national bushfire awareness campaign when completed.
  • Implementing various elements of the National Action Plan to reduce Bushfire Arson in Australia. The Commonwealth has undertaken and supported a number of national initiatives aimed at reducing bushfire arson, including developing a new national Bushfire Arson Community Awareness website, launched in December 2011; the launch of The National Arson Notification Capability in Sept 2011; and continued support to the Arson Investigation Course.
  • and establishing a national centre for bushfire research – the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) was allocated $15 million over three years (2010-11 to 2012-13) for specific research tasks arising from the 2009 Victorian bushfires including understanding fire risk, communicating risk and managing the threat.

The Australian Government is providing the BRCIM with an update on progress of recommendations of relevance to the Commonwealth. The final report is due to be tabled in the Victorian Parliament in July 2012.

“Today is a day of sad reflection for those still coming to terms with what happened in Victoria three years ago,” said Ms Macklin. “Some things can never be recovered from. “It’s also a day to reassure those people and those communities who are still recovering that the Australian Government is there to help them in this process.

“We will continue to work with the Victorian Government and affected local governments to ensure this process of supported recovery continues.”