The Bushfire Co-operative Research Center Program (CRC) will be responsible for the management of approximately $110M in cash and “in-kind” resources that will be directed to bushfire research over the next seven years. Professor John Handmer, director of the Centre for Risk and Community Safety is the Research Leader of Program C and will be working on two subsets within the program; 'Methodology Development for Economic Assessment of Bushfire Costs' and 'Evaluation of Current "Stay or Go" Policy and its Implementation in Bushfire Response'.
The program will co-ordinate research in Australia to increase the self-sufficiency of communities in manageing the risk from bushfires. It will provide the evidence base for the design of such initiatives and an agreed approach for comprehensive evaluation of their effectiveness.
The program recognises that in most communities, only a small proportion of people currently have the capacity to prepare and react appropriately to a bushfire threat. They rely on fire agencies to respond and protect them and their property. However, the capacity of these agencies is finite and inadequate in major events.
Communities bear the fire risk and help create it. However through their own actions, they can reduce their vulnerability, reduce the probability of fires and substantially reduce fire impacts. Communities need support to achieve this by working in partnership with Fire Services, who in turn need to know how best to provide that support. Best practice approaches and examples will be provided, along with comprehensive evaluation procedures to help ensure that programs work and that they are cost-effective.
The program uses strategies to:
- Understand community needs, expectations, behaviours, and attitudes
- Increase self-sufficiency through engagement and communication
- Reduce deliberate and negligent fire ignition
- Provide effective risk-communication and warnings for communities and agencies before, during and after bushfire emergencies
- Assess the total economic, social and environmental costs of bushfires and the benefits of mitigation
- Validate the benefit and viability of a "stay or go" policy
- Evaluate the effectiveness of bushfire programs against an agreed range of criteria
For further information on the 2003 Bushfire CRC, visit Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.