AUSTRALIA – In a big boost for the Peel region, Premier Mark McGowan announced on Friday morning that a new Australian-first Bushfire Centre of Excellence will be based in the Shire of Murray.
The local council beat competition from 13 other locations to house the $18 million facility, which will be based on Lakes Road in Nambeelup.
The design is expected to be finalised in coming months, with the centre to focus on leadership, collaboration and innovation across the sector.
The establishment of the Bushfire Centre of Excellence was identified as a major requirement in the Waroona Bushfire Special Inquiry.
It is expected to enhance bushfire management practices delivered locally to firefighters across Western Australia, with the centre to focus on ‘real-life training.’
The Premier was joined on site by Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan, Mandurah MP David Templeman, Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke and Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm.
The new Bushfire Centre of Excellence head John Tillman and local firefighters were also in attendance, as was Shire of Murray president David Bolt and chief executive Dean Unsworth.
Mr McGowan said the Peel site was chosen for its close proximity to major transport links and also provides access to rural space ideal for training opportunities and learning experiences.
“Our volunteer and career firefighters work under extremely challenging conditions across our big state from Esperance to Kununurra and everywhere in between,” he said.
“I’m pleased we’re progressing the Bushfire Centre of Excellence, which will strengthen WA’s emergency services, provide additional support and training to those on the ground and help improve community safety.
“The Bushfire Centre of Excellence will help improve bushfire management outcomes through leadership, collaboration and innovation across the sector.
“It will focus on sharing valuable knowledge and skills for the benefit of the community.”
Mr Logan said the centre would “better manage the large and complex bushfires that threaten WA year after year.”
Ms Clarke said establishing the centre in the Shire of Murray will prove beneficial due to its existing infrastructure, as well as the Shire’s organisational capacity and experience, and the relationship management they will bring to the table.
“It will give volunteer and career firefighters from around the State access to innovation, research and training from the country’s leading bushfire management authorities,” she said.
Mr Templeman said the centre was a major coup for Mandurah and the wider Peel region.
“This will be a major boost for the region, creating jobs during construction and bringing increased activity to the area,” he said.
“The Peel region is no stranger to the devastation caused by bushfires and has the infrastructure and expertise to host a Bushfire Centre of Excellence.”