Involving locals

Each landscape and each community is different. The best decisions are shaped by the people they affect. The place-based planning approach we use ensures communities are at the centre of decisions made about the reduction of bushfire risk in their locality, including where and when planned burning and other fuel management activities should occur.

Our collective knowledge of bushfire, combined with communities understanding of what is important, their local knowledge and experience, informs our actions.

Community engagement projects

To improve communities’ preparation and response to bushfires, the Community Engagement stream of the Safer Together program focuses on working with local communities to understand what risk means to them, what they value, and the actions that we can collectively take to create safer, more resilient communities and ecosystems.

Community-based bushfire management

CBBM began as a Safer Together project in 2016. The CBBM approach centres work that reduces bushfire risk on community knowledge, skills and strengths – ensuring that decision making related to bushfire risk is undertaken in equal partnership with communities. The project has evolved over the past five years based on reviewed guidelines, community feedback and lessons learnt. Eight CBBM Officers, employed through CFA, DELWP and Local Government, facilitate CBBM work in 21 communities across the state.

Community risk understanding

This project works across teams and agencies to interpret complex fire science concepts into information that assists communities to understand and manage their bushfire risk. The project has a strong focus on interpreting the science and tools used in fire predictive services for use by communities to address the ‘knowledge to action’ gap. Knowledge and understanding allow community members to explore actions that can be taken or activities to be involved with such as education and awareness, forums, preparing properties or establishing Fire Learning Networks. Lessons learnt from the first iteration show that the project is most effective when deliverables are explored using a collaborative, multi-agency, and people-centred design & development purpose.

Build capacity and capability

This project intends to build the engagement skills and capabilities of staff and volunteers across agencies to strengthen skills in engaging with communities. Bespoke training has been developed focussing on both community engagement and community development skills and knowledge. The training is available to all those involved in land and fire management, including operational staff. Training was initially offered through three common training packages: Community Engagement, Community Development and Creative Facilitation, and can now be offered by special request. The initial project resulted in 53 workshops plus two Train the Trainer Workshops, delivered to 787 personnel from 20 different agencies. Now, the project is going beyond delivering training by implementing a series of recommendations identified through the evaluation of the initial project.

Local government partnerships

This project continues the strategic support of Local Government partnerships piloted under Safer Together 1.0. The project seeks to explore and provide opportunities for communities and Local Governments to work together, with appropriate support from DELWP and CFA. The project recognises that Local Governments are a critical element in responding to bushfires and need to be included when communities plan for and manage emergencies. The project aims to improve community engagement and learning when it comes to bushfire prevention, preparedness, response and recovery and contributes to building overall community capacity and capability for the future.

Schools in fire country

This project seeks to provide a guiding framework to expand teacher, student and school community knowledge and understanding of bushfires to compliment the Disaster Resilience Education (DRE) program. The current practices are being reviewed and opportunities identified in bushfire education programs by collaborating with multiple stakeholders across research, education and bushfire management sectors.

Year-round planning

As part of our approach, land and fire agencies with communities and Local Governments will plan together , identify ways to work together and share knowledge and expertise when focussing on place based planning. This will ensure that the work that each agency does complements the work of other agencies and the community.

There is a continual cycle of risk reduction work and you'll be able to get involved in bushfire risk reduction in your local area all year round. Your input will mean the planning that land and fire managers do, how they work together and how they work with you makes us all safer.

What fire agencies do

  • Monitor and predict fire weather to help us suppress and patrol fires
  • Use aircraft and fire towers to watch for fires
  • Issue fire danger warnings and advice
  • Maintain critical infrastructure
  • Reduce fuel through planned burns, mulching, slashing
  • Roadside vegetation management
  • Work with agencies to plan for bushfire management
  • Commission bushfire science research
  • Build and maintain fire trails in parks and forests
  • Recruit and train firefighters
  • Connect communities, local government, and agencies
  • Facilitate conversations and place-based planning

What agencies and community do together

  • Share information during fire events through channels like community meetings and social media
  • Build an understanding of bushfire risk in our area
  • Develop and implement fire recovery plans
  • Develop plans for protecting what is valued most by local communities
  • Share information at community bushfire educations events
  • Create community fire information guides
  • Run bushfire simulations to better understand fire behaviour

What you do

  • Develop and practice your bushfire plan and share with others
  • Fully extinguish campfires
  • Keep up to date with weather and fire danger warnings
  • Work as a community, in collaboration with agencies and local government to plan for fire.
  • Work with your community to recover from bushfire events
  • Review how your bushfire plan worked in Summer
  • Share your bushfire knowledge and experience with new residents
  • Get to know your local emergency services personnel
  • Join a community Fire Guard group
  • Prepare your property by mulching, slashing, clearing gutters, checking pumps

Community conversations

Community conversations are happening about bushfire risk and the actions communities and agencies can take to reduce it.

Mount Macedon

Community members, business owners and DELWP staff share their experiences of being involved, and involving, local people in the planning process around planned burning, to help reduce bushfire risk and minimise disruption to local communities

Fire Game

Community members, as well as representatives from Surf Coast Shire and DELWP, share their experiences of The Fire Game, its development and use, and explain how bushfire simulations support emergency scenarios that are delivered in conjunction with the game.

Port Phillip

Staff from DELWP, the CFA, and Melbourne Water discuss the importance of understanding bushfire risk, and working together to ensure that critical infrastructure is better protected from bushfire.

DELWP worked with power providers, water agencies, the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and the CFA to use information from industry natural hazard contingency plans and better incorporate key power and water infrastructure into the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan.

The St Andrews Conversations snapshot

St. Andrews conversations are led by Nillumbik Council in partnership with DELWP and the St Andrews community. This pilot project demonstrates how powerful dialogue can be in shifting  the way we undertake community-based disaster preparedness and emergency management; positioning government agencies as learners alongside the community, building a sense of team, and fostering shared responsibility.

Bushfire Fuel Management Guide

The Bushfire Fuel Management Guide has been developed by the Southern and Eastern Metro Fuel Management Working group to assist communities in collaboration with land and fire management agencies and local governments, to protect their towns from bushfires.

It provides practical information and a decision making framework to plan the management of bushfire fuels on public and private land in and around towns and settlements. The Word template can assist with preparing town specific bushfire fuel management plans and information packs for residents.

Bushfire Fuel Management Guide (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Bushfire Fuel Management Guide  (DOCX, 15.5 MB)

Bushfire Fuel Management Plan template (DOCX, 2.2 MB)

What does this mean for me?

The Safer Together approach doesn't change the responsibilities of our different agencies, but there will be a greater emphasis on agencies working together. There will be a focus on coordinated fuel management across public and private land and there will be more involvement of CFA brigades in fuel management across public/private land

The approach will mean a greater emphasis on local communities being involved in bushfire management and a focus on agencies talking collectively with communities about bushfires. Over time, bushfire modelling will become more available to support local community discussion about how to manage bushfires.

To find out more about bushfire risk in your area click on your local bushfire risk region below or find your landscape

The Safer Together approach will mean greater opportunities to talk about bushfire management across the whole of country and the impact on cultural heritage, the environment and connection to country. 

It will also mean the involvement of Traditional Owners in bushfire management and drawing on traditional knowledge about fire to improve practices.

The Safer Together approach means we will be doing more to reduce the risk of bushfire and be more effective in how we do it. Planned burning in and around towns will continue to be a key strategy for reducing bushfire risk and protecting lives and property. The government is investing in predictive modelling of smoke and research to better understand its health impacts.

Page last updated: 08/09/20