My colleague, Phillipa McCormack from the University of Adelaide reports on the need for ‘Clashing laws … to be fixed if we want to live in bushfire-prone areas’ (The Conversation, 6 December 2022). This is a summary of the findings of a research project, led by Phillipa with contributions from Professors Jan McDonald and David Bowman, Drs Stuart Little and Rebecca Harris and myself.

In that research we tried to map all laws that impact upon bushfire management to explore the complexity of the regulatory world and the interrelationships between laws in one area, and bushfire risk. We concluded that ‘Bushfires are not a ‘problem’ that the law can solve. Even so, our laws and policies have an important role to play in preparing communities and environments for a future that will be defined by our experience of fire. (The research report was published in the Melbourne University Law Review and you can read it here).

In the summary article in ‘The Conversation’ Phillipa gives examples of how laws designed for one purpose conflict with others focussed on bushfire risk. She argues that law reformers should ‘look across the whole range of laws governing or touching on fire’ to ‘find new ways to help us adapt’.

Phillipa is an early career researcher supported by Natural Hazards Research Australia – see

I congratulate Phillipa on the outcomes of her work to date and look forward to seeing her future contributions in the field of fire management and law.

This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.