Safer Together approach

Safer Together is our approach to reducing the risks of bushfire in Victoria that combines stronger community partnerships with the latest science and technology to more effectively target our actions.

This approach saw us move from a hectare target for planned burns to a risk reduction target for bushfire management. It means a more integrated approach across public and private land. Fuel management is just one of the actions we will take to protect lives, homes, the economy and the environment.

Safer Together involves fire and land agencies working together with communities, combining in-depth local knowledge with the latest science and technology to reduce bushfire risk on both public and private land. Strategies and solutions are based on community values and risk is measured using our local knowledge, field data and bushfire simulation technology.

The State Government's response to the review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land:

Read Safer together: An approach to reducing the risk of bushfire in Victoria.

Inspector General Emergency Management recommendations

In February 2015, as part of the Victorian Government's commitment to keeping the state safe, the Inspector-General for Emergency Management was asked to review performance targets for the bushfire fuel management program on public land. The Inspector-General made the following recommendations:

A risk-reduction target is the most effective form of performance target for bushfire fuel management on public land to protect life and property and guide investments in fuel reduction burning.

The Inspector-General for Emergency Management recommended that DELWP: 

Continue to develop and employ its capability to predict the smoke effects of planned burning, ensuring its planned burning processes remain consistent with the State Smoke Plan.

Adopt performance indicators to monitor the quality and effectiveness of community engagement activities.

Continue to develop the reliability of unit risk-reduction estimates. The availability of such estimates will be required to enable comparison and prioritisation of options for bushfire risk-reduction across the areas of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, and would involve contributions of other emergency management agencies.

Report clear, publicly accessible information on bushfire risk and ecosystem resilience, and report on the key activities required to achieve benefits for the community in these areas.

Transition to risk-based planning and performance measurement supported by a program of internal and external reviews.

The Government accepted these recommendations by the Inspector-General and adopted a risk reduction target to guide our fuel management on public land.

DELWP transitioned to this target through a defined program of activities and milestones. Effective transitioning required DELWP to enhance their capacity and capability to implement risk-based planning and needs supported by appropriate performance measures and dedicated monitoring, evaluation and review.

Why this approach to bushfire risk

Our aim has always been to reduce risk from bushfires, with planned burning being only one of a range of tools available to reduce risk. Using a hectare target to guide planned burning meant we increased our activity, but it didn't tell us how effective our actions were at reducing risk. It didn't consider that some areas in the state are more likely to be impacted by bushfires, or that too much planned burning can damage ecosystems.

Our approach is about:

  • better assessing where and when to use fuel management and other risk reduction activities
  • avoiding unacceptable impacts on the community and the environment
  • better integration across public and private land
  • land and fire managers working together with communities to plan and deliver integrated bushfire management
  • ensuring decision making is centred on the views, strengths and values of the community
  • using world-leading science to manage fire and ecosystems.

Delivering this approach

We moved from a hectare-based fuel reduction target to a risk reduction target to guide fuel management in parks and forests, keeping bushfire risk at or below 70 per cent.
2017/18 & 2018/19
The first iteration of the Safer Together program ‘Safer Together 1.0’ was implemented over two years from July 2017 to June 2019. Fifteen core projects were delivered across three themes: Community First, Working Together and Science and Technology. Each project had a project team, made up of staff from across all the Safer Together agencies.
2019/20 & 2020/21
Successful progress in Safer Together 1.0 paved the way for a second iteration of the program. Safer Together 2.0, which received funding for a further two years to consolidate and enhance the achievements of the program.

Evaluating our progress

Evaluating the success of the Safer Together program is critical for ensuring bushfire risk is managed in the best way possible. Therefore, in 2020 an independent consultant, Grosvenor Performance Group, was engaged to evaluate the past four years of the program’s delivery. The evaluation focussed on how well the Safer Together program achieved the ‘resilient communities’ part of its vision.
The evaluation used the Safer Together Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) Framework to measure progress against the outcomes related to 'resilient communities ‘ The findings will be used to drive program improvement and inform future decision making. The final report can be found here.

Page last updated: 29/12/21