FOBIF was represented at a meeting in Bendigo on March 7 with DSE land and fire community engagement officer Simone Blair. The meeting was organised by the Bendigo and District Environment council.
The meeting was an opportunity for community groups to table their difficulties in communicating with DSE on matters specifically to do with fire management. FOBIF believes that these difficulties arise mainly because DSE is obliged to implement a very blunt range of policies, the main one being that of burning off five per cent of public land, regardless of local conditions. Nevertheless, we believe that even under these constraints, DSE could do better: and we are of the view that some of their efforts smack of carelessness or neglect—the burning of Tarilta Gorge being one [see below].
BDEC members present were insistent that DSE should try more actively to counter unreasonable fear of the bush, and that the dangers of grass fire should be made clearer to the public. The belief persists that the Bracewell Street Black Saturday fire was a bushfire, when it burned mainly through waste grassland. They also underlined the importance of fire protection works on private land.
There will be a follow up meeting in April.