Emergency Relief and Recovery
- DEPI's role in recovery
- Rescue of wildlife
- Assistance to private landholders impacted by fire from public land
- Recovery of public land
- Recovery of the natural environment
The State Emergency Relief and Recovery Plan has been developed to facilitate the collaboration of all key stakeholders involved in supporting the relief and recovery of communities affected by emergencies.
The Plan is developed in accordance with the Emergency Management Act 1986 and forms Part 4 of the Emergency Management Manual Victoria.
The Department of Human Services is the coordinating agency for ‘Emergency Recovery’ at the state and regional level, working in collaboration with municipal councils who have that responsibility at a local level.
DEPI is responsible for fire management on public land, including National Parks, State Parks, State forests. Recovery (including rehabilitation) is a fundamental component of fire and emergency management in DEPI and involves:
- wildlife rescue,
- rehabilitation and restoration of damage caused by fire suppression operations,
- restoration of forest and park infrastructure,
- in partnership with other agencies, assist in the recovery of the local community when a fire has had an impact on its economic or social well-being.
Under the Code of Practice for Fire Management on Public Land, DEPI has two main recovery functions:
(i) Short Term Fire Recovery - Rehabilitation of Fire Suppression Works and Emergency Stabilisation (Emergency Phase)
In order to control a bushfire it is sometimes necessary for the fire agencies to construct fuel breaks or fire control lines to protect life and property. Rehabilitation of these commences as soon as practical after bushfire suppression starts. Rehabilitation may also include emergency stabilisation measures to protect life, property from erosion, or other hazards.
DEPI operates Bushfire Rapid Risk Assessment Teams (Bushfire RRATs) that rapidly assess major risks to life and property, infrastructure and the environment following bushfire. Via a systematic process they provide practical solutions and approximate costs to mitigate these risks, set the direction for rehabilitation priorities and inform long term recovery actions.
When a fire starts on private land, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) will be the lead agency responsible for the rehabilitation of fire suppression works.
(ii) Longer Term Fire Recovery (Post Emergency Phase)
DEPI is also responsible for longer term recovery of natural values and the public land estate in Victoria. DEPI coordinates and directly delivers its recovery function in conjunction with its statutory agencies; Parks Victoria and Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs).
Wildlife can be injured during bushfires and floods. DEPI works with suitably qualified and experienced wildlife care organisations and rehabilitators to assist with the recovery, treatment, rehabilitation and release of wildlife affected by fire – For more information see the Wildlife Rescue Information page.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Rural Recovery teams provide support to landholders affected by fire. DPI works closely with landholders to assess their immediate needs relating to animal welfare, hay, fencing and livestock. Details on support available can be found on the DPI website.
DEPI provides some assistance to landholders with regard to fence repair, fire control line rehabilitation, and essential water replacement where a fire starts on public land and travels into private land damaging private property (including escaped planned burns). For more information on this assistance see the Landholder Assistance page.
The recovery of public land estate (Crown Land, National Parks, and State forests) in Victoria includes; protection of water quality and supply, cultural heritage, built assets and infrastructure on public land.
DEPI’s primary fire management responsibility is for the protection of life and property. DEPI and Parks Victoria endeavour to reopen closed areas and parks to the public as soon as practical after a fire however this may take time when park infrastructure needs to be replaced or where safety hazards such as fencing or falling trees need to be repaired.
For Information of parks and forests open and closed following fire and flood see the Parks and Forests, open or closed? page.
For information on the current rehabilitation and recovery program by DEPI, Parks Victoria, and the CMAs (including following the 2009 bushfires) visit the Active Recovery page.
For all other assistance please see the Department of Human Services.
Native vegetation will recover from fire over time. The time required will depend upon the fire regime requirements of the vegetation community and will be influenced by successive fire events.
In areas where weed invasion from seed stock in the soil or from surrounding areas or feral animal invasion may occur or, where damage to the vegetation occurred as a result of fire suppression activities, rehabilitation and regeneration may be required to assist the ecosystem to fully rehabilitate.
After a fire DEPI and Parks Victoria undertake soil erosion control works on all tracks and areas cleared as part of fire suppression operations and replants these areas with local indigenous native plants where required. Soil erosion works are particularly important in areas that fall within water catchments or where river or wetland ecosystems will be affected by sedimentation.
Weed and feral animal control programs are often implemented in areas after fires by DEPI and Parks Victoria to help restore native ecosystems.
For more information on ecological recovery visit DEPI's Natural Environment - Recovery after Bushfire page.
For information on how the environment recovers after fire, please visit DEPI's Fire Ecology Information Resources page.