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Improving resilience in the face of emergencies

Summer is here, and with it brings hot days, extreme weather and an increased risk of bushfire.  

This year more than ever we have seen just how important it is for Victoria’s infrastructure to be resilient in the face of emergencies and disasters, such as bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keeping communities safe and functioning during emergencies and disasters is the highest priority. 

As well as improving our existing infrastructure to ensure it can withstand such shocks, if a structure is damaged or destroyed in an emergency it can be rebuilt better, safer and more resilient.  

To view the draft recommendations we’ve made in this area and provide your input, head to the Justice and Emergency services section of the engagement section on our Draft 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy website. 

During the summer bushfires, communication loss was experienced by 18 towns across Victoria, 17 of which were also isolated by disrupted road access. Our draft strategy acknowledges this with a recommendation to build back better after emergencies, because simply replacing it with the same infrastructure does nothing to improve its resilience to further damage in the face of future events. 

Instead of a ‘like-for-like’ rebuild, this draft recommendation is about looking for opportunities where a structure can be replaced with something more resilient, more adaptable to changing local climates or in a safer location where it is less vulnerable position.  

Living in Victoria, we know there will be more hot days, more extreme weather and the potential for emergencies. Community safety is at the forefront of our draft recommendation for new climate-adapted facilities where people escape to during an emergency. These hubs would offer communities shelter from extreme heat exposure, prolonged smoke from bushfire and other natural disasters  

We’ve made a draft recommendation to redefine the Emergency Management Act 2013 and expand its list of critical infrastructure to include the essential services of energy, water and transport. This is to mitigate the consequences of infrastructure failures and demand surges across the telecommunications, healthcare and food supply sectors. These are not currently included in Victoria’s legislated definition of an essential service, which means they may be more vulnerable to disruption in times of emergency. 

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from previous emergencies and how Victoria responded. We believe there is an opportunity to incorporate and act on emergency management and infrastructure resilience recommendations from current bushfire and pandemic inquiries and other reviews. 

We want to hear your thoughts on this. 

To view the draft recommendations we’ve made in this area and provide your input, head to the Justice and Emergency services section. Get involved and have your say here: https://engage.vic.gov.au/victorias-30-year-infrastructure-strategy

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