Taking on the role of Emergency Services Minister is an honour and in the time since it has been remarkable to travel the state to meet with the extraordinary women and men who protect our communities.
I meet many Victorians working to protect people, homes, businesses and livestock. They do this every day of the year, at any time of the day.
As someone who lives in and represents the hills – one of the highest fire risk areas in the world – I understand the sacrifices emergency services professionals and volunteers make to keep us safe.
During times of flood, fire, storms and search and rescue operations, they put their lives on the line for their community.
My vision for emergency services in Victoria is a robust, supportive and efficient sector that works together to achieve the best outcomes for all communities.
Effective emergency management today is about being focussed on what our communities will need tomorrow – and well into the future.
Future-proofing every part of our sector for the many complex challenges ahead requires a resilience-based approach.
It also requires holistic collaboration.
The great strength of this sector is that we work as one.
When community, industry, business and all levels of government and work together, we are in the best possible position to achieve a sustainable and efficient emergency management system.
And this reduces the likelihood, effect and consequences of emergencies in our state.
In January of 2016, I visited Wye River shortly after the bushfires swept through the area.
Seeing the devastating impact on the local community first-hand helped me to understand how important it is for Victoria to maintain its world-class emergency management sector.
Our changing climate means extreme weather events will be more frequent, more intense and more likely to last longer.
As we have seen in recent years this impact will be complex and the consequences will be dynamic, as we have seen in recent years.
Population growth, changing demographics and technology, as well as the increasing potential for pandemic, biosecurity and security risks, will also have a significant impact on our state.
New technologies mean people access information in different ways; this will affect how and what information is communicated during major emergencies.
Importantly, we as a Government can empower local communities to be engaged in emergency management processes including them in emergency management processes.
We will continue to assist communities to work through existing networks and local leadership, so that planning and recovery process are tailored, meaningful and self-sustaining.
We can also work smarter and more effectively by reflecting the diversity that exists within and between communities in our sector.
The closer the sector reflects the community – by welcoming Victorians from all backgrounds and life-circumstances – the better we can understand their needs and meet their expectations.
Make no mistake our Government is committed to provide the emergency services sector our full support in the work they do and in the challenges they face – now and in future.