A small town in Western Australia (WA) will be home to Australia’s first Bushfire Centre of Excellence.
Located in Nambeelup in the state’s southwest, the $18 million purpose-built facility is expected to lead the way for the rest of the world in bushfire management.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said it would put WA at the cutting edge of educating firefighters, preventing bushfires and developing the best mitigation practices.
“This is a huge step forward in dealing with bushfires in WA,” he said.
“It’s world-leading and the first time it’s ever been done.”
Training, knowledge and engagement
Established as a result of the 2016 Waroona Bushfire Special Inquiry and funded by the Emergency Services Levy, the Centre of Excellence aims to improve bushfire management through training, knowledge sharing and community engagement and outreach.
Once completed in December this year, it will provide a place for researchers, scientists, volunteers and the community to share and learn from the best bushfire management practices.
As part of the Centre’s approach to harness different perspectives, a key aim is to develop a Traditional Fire Program. Believed to be the first of its kind, the program will explore Indigenous mitigation and firefighting methods, including traditional burning practices.
“[The centre] will teach traditional bushfire fighting skills that have been practiced for thousands of years by the traditional owners of WA and Australia,” WA Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said.
“[It will] be a place of learning how traditional land owners have used fire as a tool.”
With research indicating more than 20 per cent of Australia’s forests burnt during the 2019-2020 bushfire season, initiatives such as these can’t come soon enough, she said.
“[The Bushfire Centre of Excellence] will bring career and volunteer services and agencies together to learn from each other and work collaboratively to lead the way in the prevention and management of bushfires,” Logan said.
“The Centre is the cornerstone of our investment in mitigation to better protect the community against the threat of bushfires, as well as providing an opportunity to contribute national leadership and support to other states and territories in bushfire management.”