A message from the Emergency Management Commissioner about the community recovery in the south west

15 April 2018

Communities in Victoria’s south west continue to move through the recovery from the fire event which started on 17 March and are at various stages. Not all communities were impacted but many will have felt the effects at some level.

There is a process underway to reflect and collect lessons from community members, emergency management agencies and departments and local councils involved in the response and recovery. This includes operational debriefs and community recovery meetings and will ensure that learnings are captured in a coordinated way from the community, incident, region and state.

A formal debriefing plan will support these activities, and will ensure that we have a holistic, coordinated and consistent approach to debriefing activities and continuous improvement moving forward. This will ensure that lessons are identified and able to be implemented and result in potential lessons learned into the future.

A number of informal community drop in debrief sessions are planned over the coming weeks to ensure that community feedback is captured. This will be an opportunity to gather individual’s perspectives and experiences of what went well and what can be improved on and is important step for us to capture in order to continuously improve. The schedule is available on the EMV website and I encourage you to have a look and attend a session if you can. An emergency always provides the opportunity for all of us to reflect, and to provide the next shared emergency plan between community members and agencies.

There is no doubt this was Victoria’s most significant and complex incident this summer season. The challenges are significant for those that lost houses, machinery, sheds, equipment, livestock and fencing. This loss cannot be underestimated, it will continue to have lasting financial and emotional impacts as the farming community works to rebuild. However, there was no loss of life. The community and our emergency services worked so hard together for this result.

 

The south west communities are showing great resilience and spirit. Recovery from disasters can be complex and ongoing. It is a time where respect and understanding is important and people should continue to support each other.

 

From the beginning of this event all our emergency management personnel have done a great job. Volunteers have played a very important role and continue to. Thank you to all those who played a part. Everyone can be proud of the work that has been done and will continue to do to ensure our communities are supported through the long term recovery.

 

There has been and will continue to be a great focus on the community, health and wellbeing. A key focus of the south west recovery has been to ensure recovery planning and activities are reflective of community values and needs.

 

Informative discussions have been an important part of the process, across agencies and departments and councils, and with the community. These will continue to shape the forward emergency management planning and recovery planning for the impacted communities into the future.

 

The impact and trauma of the fire, and the recovery process from this event will be different for everyone. I encourage you to keep checking in on your friends and family, and stay connected to your support networks.