UTAS

Bushfire-ready program leads the way nationally

University of Tasmania research is underpinning a multi award-winning Tasmanian bushfire preparedness program.

After being awarded the 2014 State Resilient Australia Award jointly with Kingborough Council in September, the Tasmania Fire Service's Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods program won a national Resilient Australia Award at a ceremony in Canberra today (Monday).

The Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods program conducted by TFS was developed in collaboration with the University of Tasmania and the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.

The Awards, coordinated nationally by the Attorney General's Department, recognise best practice initiatives that build disaster resilience in Australia. Representatives from TFS and the University of Tasmania accepted the overall award for a State/Territory program from Federal Minister for Justice, the Honourable Michael Keenan.

TFS Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods program coordinator Peter Middleton said "this is national recognition of an action research project that is now driving the TFS program and leading the way nationally in community engagement for bushfire."

"The program is now operating in many parts of the State and takes a community development approach to building community capacity for bushfire prevention and preparedness.

"The program's vision is that we all play a part in being bushfire-ready individuals; TFS and communities through sharing the responsibility and taking ownership of the bushfire risk at all levels.

"The success of the pilot would not have been possible without a collaborative partnership between TFS and the University of Tasmania which commenced in 2009. This collaboration and pilot program was published as part of Dr Mai Frandsen's doctoral research thesis entitled Promoting Community Bushfire Preparedness- Bridging the Theory- Practice Divide," said Mr Middleton.

Dr Frandsen said she was thrilled to see her work helping to make the Tasmanian community more prepared in the event of bushfires.

"An enormous amount of work goes into a doctorate and it has been very rewarding to see my thesis have a practical impact through the work of the Tasmania Fire Service and others," she said.

Leading into the 2014-15 bushfire season, the program has been implementing community engagement activities, with staff facilitating the program with communities in many bushfire-prone parts of Tasmania. Mr Middleton said "some of the popular activities include information sessions, bushfire planning workshops, property assessments and expos."

Image: TFS Community Education manager Sandra Barber flanked by the University's Dr Mai Frandsen and Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods coordinator Peter Middleton at the Awards ceremony in Canberra.

Published on: 25 Nov 2014 12:40pm