Publication Details

This report was originally published as Ellis, S, Kanowski, P and Whelan, R, National Inquiry into Bushfire Mitigation and Management, Council of Australian Governments, 31 March 2004, 451p. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2004. Original report available here.


Bushfires are an inherent part of the Australian environment. We cannot prevent them, but we can minimise the risks they pose to life, property and infrastructure, production systems, and the environment. Australia has a large and very capable force of volunteer and career firefighters, advanced firefighting technologies, and significant firefighting resources. But the geographical scale of our country, the large and expanding rural–urban interface, and the potential for rapid bushfire development and spread under adverse weather conditions mean that individual Australians cannot rely solely on fire agencies to protect their lives and property from bushfires. Bushfires have a fundamental and irreplaceable role in sustaining many of Australia’s natural ecosystems and ecological processes and are a valuable tool for achieving land management objectives. However, if they are too frequent or too infrequent, too severe or too mild, or mistimed, they can erode ecosystem health and biodiversity and compromise other land management goals. We have been learning to live with fire since the first Australians arrived on our continent. We need to continue, and enrich, that learning process in contemporary circumstances and be able to adapt our planning and responses to change. This report seeks to help all Australians meet these challenges.