Let’s chat about bushfires

A CONVERSATION about how best to live with bushfire took place in Churchill at the weekend, with more than 200 people participating.

The Living with Bushfire community conference brought together government agencies, country fire authority members and community groups to focus on bushfire protection and recovery.

Co-convenor Wendy Wright, a Federation University associate professor of ecology, said it was pleasing to see a two-way conversation take place.

“It’s about community groups having the opportunity to hear about the latest research and policy,” Associate Professor Wright said.

“But it’s also about the community groups having the opportunity to inform researchers and policy makers about what is important to the community.”

On Friday, presentations were based on the themes of bushfire risk and ecology and on Saturday, property protection and social research.

A variety of booths were also set up, displaying how groups conducted fire recovery and what to do with pets during a fire.

Associate Professor Wright said with the bushfire season “already upon us” it was a timely conference, with questions regarding controlled burns fielded to Victoria’s Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Management, Joe Buffone.

“What is really nice is everyone is here in the spirit of trying to improve things,” Associate Professor Wright said.

“There is a willingness to try and get things right and understand fire and how best to live with it.

“We do live in a fire-prone area, so it’s going to happen. How can we best prepare for it, protect what needs to be protected and recover from it when it does unfortunately happen?”

Living with Bushfire began last year as part of a joint collaboration with Federation University, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, CFA, Latrobe City Council and Parks Victoria.

Associate Professor Wright said it would be extended into other bushfire regions across the state, with the 2016 conference to take place in the Yarra Ranges.