‘The choices we make and the things we trade-off matter’. Recommended ways forward using new public policy documents

by Janet Wheatley | Dec 20, 2019 | Local Law No. 2 Submissions | 0 comments

Below is my written submission re. Local Law no. 2 and then links to the documents I recommended in my verbal presentation to the Council meeting on Friday 13th Dec. I hope they may be of use.

Dear Mayor and Councillors


‘The choices we make and the things we trade-off matter: they inspire our strength and prosperity and effect our vulnerability and resilience’ from ‘Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability: The interconnected causes and cascading effects of systemic disaster risk’ Australian Government Department of Home Affairs 2019.


I wish to make a brief submission regarding Local Law no. 2 Community Amenity and Municipal Spaces. I have been a CFA volunteer since 1994 and the Hepburn Brigade Community Safety Co-ordinator for ten years. This submission is not as a representative of CFA or made on their behalf, but my training and experiences have given me the opportunity to learn of insights and resources that I believe will be of use to the Council when undertaking the review of this local law.


I believe that important arguments can be made regarding issues of equity, lack of precision in the drafting of the Local Law and in the over reach of some aspects, but I wish to focus this submission on resources that can help the Council understand and better manage questions of safety, resilience, and the choices we make about what we as a community value.


I submit that the review and any potential changes to Local Law no. 2, indeed any Council policy, decision or action, needs to be considered in the light of a new National framework, additional paper and guidance notes regarding resilience.  These are the  ‘National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework’ which was produced in 2019 is a collaboration of many groups led by the National Resilience Taskforce within the Australian government Department of Home Affairs. This in turn is supported by the report ‘Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability: The interconnected causes and cascading effects of systemic disaster risk’ by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. Further in support are the series of documents ‘Guidance for strategic decisions on climate and disaster risk’, ‘Climate and disaster risks: what they are, why they matter, and how to consider them in decision making’. The guidance notes are: ‘Introduction’, ‘Guide on governance’, ‘Guide on vulnerability’, ‘Guide on scenarios’, ‘Guide on prioritisation’, and ‘Terms and Concepts’.


It may seem an enormous distance from questions of national disaster risk reduction and the Hepburn Shire Local Law no. 2 review but I submit they are intimately linked. The Council has previously declared a climate emergency and several of the towns, villages and communities within the shire are evaluated as subject to extreme fire risk. The shire is also vulnerable to several other types of risk eg storm, high wind, heatwaves, prolonged loss of power etc.  This broad context requires the Hepburn Council to consider these issues in every decision and action it makes. Several of the proposed changes make judgements that may reduce the communities’ resilience eg. foraging for food, collecting firewood, storing second hand wood. Others may restrict or dampen community strengthening activities that the community may place a very high value in retaining as an opportunity for flexible, spontaneous celebration. Others may go to important questions of equity that the community may not wish to trade off, eg caravans or little homes on private property. These in turn link to questions of resilience and vulnerability.


The guidance notes and other papers give information on training that can occur to support Councillors, staff and the community to consider and implement these complex new frameworks and insights. I encourage the Council to take up the opportunities available in the challenging times we find ourselves in. I submit that the Council delays implementation of new local laws until this process has been undertaken.


I am prepared to speak to this submission if you wish me to.

Yours sincerely

Janet Wheatley   SEE BELOW WEB LINKS for documents mentioned above (this info below wasn’t included in my submission)

-National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework


-Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability


-Guidance for Strategic Decisions on Climate and Disaster Risk



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *