$1.7 million Greater Hobart bushfire resilience project to ignite action

Building resilient communities by equipping them with the tools they need to prepare for bushfires is the goal of a new project partnership between the four Greater Hobart councils and the Federal Government.

Sparking Conversations, Igniting Action is a joint initiative of the greater Hobart councils: Hobart, Kingborough, Glenorchy and Clarence and will see project officers working directly with each of the 12 targeted neighbourhoods, creating bushfire risk demonstration sites, holding local listening posts and giving free household bushfire risk assessments.

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Tasmanian Senator Carol Brown said:

“Hobart is incredibly vulnerable to bushfires, with the enormous loss of life and property in 1967 within living memory for many Tasmanians.

“Natural disasters cost the Australian economy $18.2 billion per year, and the cost is forecast to rise to $39 billion per year by 2050.

“This increase is without consideration given to the rise in frequency and intensity of weather events we will see in coming years due to climate change. 

“Through this investment, communities will be better prepared for future bushfires; with individual households having strategies in place to mitigate the risks of bushfires to their homes and families. “

The project will target 12 very different neighbourhoods based on demographic and bushfire risk profiles in a real-life experiment to find out what stops people from preparing their homes for bushfire, and how councils can help people and communities overcome these obstacles.

Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said officers would also engage with the wider community through community events.

"Our new bushfire resilience project is aimed at empowering communities across Hobart to better prepare their homes and loved ones for future bushfire threats," Lord Mayor Cr Reynolds said.

"We want to build a greater sense of responsibility around bushfire protection at the community and neighbourhood level, because it takes a community to protect a community from bushfire.”

“For many people the thought of getting their property bushfire-ready can be overwhelming. Others fear the expense or that they might have to radically alter their cherished garden.”

Research shows that in many cases simple steps can improve the chances of a house surviving a bushfire, including removing flammable material in direct contact with a house, removing flammable material that will generate radiant heat towards a property and by plugging gaps to stop fire embers entering roof spaces or confined areas and igniting a house from within.

Kingborough Mayor Paula Wriedt said with the right knowledge, help and inspiration, people can reduce the bushfire threat to their home.

“In fact, a bit of forward thinking, a trip to the hardware store and a weekend of work can make a big difference to the chances of your house surviving a bushfire,” Cr Wriedt said.

Clarence Mayor Doug Chipman said people need to understand this risk to understand their options.

“We want to help people to understand that a plan to lower the chance of losing their house to bushfire needs to be different to the plan to save their family,” Cr Chipman said.

Glenorchy Mayor Bec Thomas said with current challenges and summer just around the corner, there was no time to delay when addressing these issues.

“The threat of bushfire continues to increase as our climate changes and our cities grow,” Cr Thomas said.

“There is just too much at risk not to have these conversations with your loved ones, your neighbours and your community.”

Those interested in finding out more information can visit the project website www.sparkingconversations.com.au

Note: The Australian Government contribution to this initiative is funded under the Preparing Australia Communities Program, which is administered by the National Emergency Management Agency.

For more information, visit Preparing Australian Communities Program - Local | National Emergency Management Agency (nema.gov.au).