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Summary of submissions

Summary of submissions received by the Royal Commission

On 2 March 2020, the Royal Commission issued a call for public submissions from those affected by the 2019-20 bushfires. Due to the tight reporting deadline of the Commission, the initial deadline for submissions was Friday, 3 April 2020. In response to requests from the public, the Commission extended the deadline until Friday, 17 April 2020. Later, in recognition of the impact of COVID19 on the capacity of key stakeholders to respond, a further extension was granted until Tuesday, 28 April 2020.

Submissions were accepted orally and in writing. Oral submissions were taken via phone call, and a written record of the submission was made. The Commission's public contact team responded to more than 750 enquiries from people seeking support to make a submission.

Interactive submissions map

The following interactive map displays the number of submissions received from individuals by their location (local government area).  It shows that many of the individuals who made a submission are located in areas that were severely fire affected in 2019-2020.

The map was developed using the National Map, an online tool designed to support Australian government agencies to share data. You can use the 'add data' function to overlay other data relevant to understanding the built, natural and social environment impacted by the bushfires. For example, you can overlay data relating to agriculture, communications, environment, infrastructure, land use, population and economic information. Information about this data is accessible on the National Map website.

Burn scar map

The National Indicative Aggregated Fire Extent Dataset map presented below was developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE). It depicts areas burnt across Australia for the 2019/20 bushfire season.

This map represents the extent of the fire affected areas from the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires in Australia.
National Indicative Aggregated Fire Extent 1 July 2019 to 25 May 2020

See full size image of National Indicative Aggregated Fire Extent map.

Attribution: This dataset is available under the CC-BY data licencing model. The Royal Commission acknowledges the creator, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), and the national Emergency Management Spatial Information Network Australia (EMSINA) data service; and the following data providers: NSW Rural Fire Service, Northern Australian Fire Information (NAFI), QLD Fire and Emergency Service, QLD Department of Environment and Science, SA Country Fire Service, SA Department for Environment and Water, Tasmanian Fire Service, TAS Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, VIC Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. Detailed information about the dataset, including known issues and limitations, can be accessed on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

A shared experience

Since 2 March 2020, the Royal Commission has received 1,772 submissions covering a range of issues relating to the inquiry's terms of reference. These submissions offer insights into the lived experience of people affected by natural disasters in Australia, and provide a forum for individuals and organisations to share their knowledge and expertise on issues related to the Commission's terms of reference.

Submissions by individuals

The Commission received 1,339 submissions from individuals. Of these, 626 (47%) reported being affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire season and some were affected in multiple ways. For example:

  • 580 (43%) reported living in a bushfire affected area
  • 287 (21%) reported that they had evacuated
  • 86 (6%) reported being involved in firefighting efforts
  • 53 (4%) reported that they had volunteered in non-firefighting response roles
  • 316 (29%) reported suffering a personal or financial loss; and
  • 53 (4%) reported that they had volunteered in support of recovery efforts.

Submissions by professionals

Of the 1,339 individuals who made a submission, 460 (34%) reported having professional knowledge or expertise relevant to natural disaster arrangements. Of those, 135 reported being current or former firefighters, and a further 325 reported having expertise in fields relevant to the Commission's terms of reference. Individuals identified having expertise in: emergency/disaster response and/or management, community welfare, environment/land management, wildlife conservation, traditional land and fire management practices of Indigenous Australians, and impacts of changes in climatic conditions, land use, planning, building standards.

Submissions by organisations

The Commission received 433 submissions from organisations. Of those, 25 were from professional and volunteer fire brigades, associations, unions and collectives. The other 408 were from government, non-government, private sector, peak body, community groups and associations with expertise in a range of fields relevant to the work of the Commission, including: environment, land management, forestry, fire ecology, land planning, traditional land management, climate, natural hazard modelling, emergency services, disaster response and management, telecommunications, health, community welfare, wildlife conservation, resilience, building standards, aviation.

About this data

These statistics were derived from self-reported data provided to the Commission by people and organisations who made a submission. The Royal Commission undertook a cleaning process to identify and correct:

  • Errors: where a person accidentally selected the wrong option from a drop-down box, spelt something incorrectly or a document upload failed.
  • Duplicate submissions: where a person provided the same submission multiple times, resulting in duplicate submissions.
  • Changes requested by the person who made the submission: where a person submitted something as one thing, but asked us to change it to something else. For example, they initially made a submission on behalf of an organisation, but asked us to change it to an individual.

These statistics were first reported on 15 June 2020. Following this, the Royal Commission received some late submissions and conducted a data cleaning process to remove duplicate submissions, correct classification errors and make modifications requested by the submitters. These statistics, reported on 3 September 2020, are the final figures following the close of submissions and completion of data cleaning.