We choose to live in Nillumbik because we love being close to the natural environment. Bushfire will always be a part of living here. It’s the price we pay to live in paradise but there’s plenty that Council can do to minimise the risk – and Council must – because your safety is paramount.
When it comes to bushfire, the protection of human life is paramount.
By far the most effective way to stay safe during fire season is to leave early. I understand the difficulty that this poses to residents but it is the safest option. Different families have different triggers to leave depending on personal priorities and the nature of the local land. I will support the CFA to share up-to-date information with you so you can better understand how fire danger ratings are calculated and what they mean for your local area.
Leaving early isn’t easy but Council can play a role in making it easier so you can keep yourself and your family safe during a fire.
I will work with the community to identify some of the key barriers to leaving early during fire season so as Council can help overcome them. This could include programs to assist landowners with animals, especially large animals such as horses, to relocate their animals on fire danger days so all of your loved ones can stay safe. It could also include programs to help transport the elderly and people with disabilities to safe and comfortable community refuges on fire danger days so as everyone has the option of leaving early.
Fuel management is a critical way of protecting your property during fire season but it must be evidence-based and targeted. The Joint Fuel Management Plan (JFMP) is a fantastic example of this. The JFMP works by considering the nature of the landscape and by tackling fuel management differently in different spots, on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean bulldozing everything; it means managing fuel responsibly e.g. creating fire stops or removing some of the undergrowth. This means the local environment can be preserved while also reducing the risk of a serious fire.
Council needs to help facilitate cross-tenure fuel management in the local area.
Cross-tenure fuel management is an important feature of JFMP. It refers to managing fuel consistently over a particular area of land, without hindrance from property boundaries. Council can play a role in facilitating this by working with the CFA and landowners in the community. This means that both you and your neighbours will be asked to uphold the same evidence-based standards for fuel management across your property boundary. It also means that council-owned land abutting your property will be managed consistently with the way that you manage your property.
To support the effort by the CFA and the local community to prepare for fire season each year, I will ensure that Council provides clear information on navigating local planning schemes so as you can manage fuel adequately without having to grapple with an overly complicated planning process.
The Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower doubles up as a fire watch tower during fire season. As the tower is Council-owned, it is up to Council to ensure ongoing proper maintenance of the tower and I will ensure that Council continues to do this so as our local CFA can continue to have a strong vantage point to allow for early detection in Nillumbik and surrounding areas during fire season.
I will consult with the CFA and other bodies to ensure that Council continues to provide adequate maintenance and upgrades to other local fire management infrastructure such as fire access tracks and water tanks in Nillumbik.