The royal commission into the recent bushfire emergency will begin this week, with the inquiry already having met with fire-affected Bega Valley residents.
The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements is set to begin hearings on Thursday, following last month's visit to the region by chair Mark Binskin and commissioners Annabelle Bennett and Andrew Macintosh for public forums.
The three commissioners have now met with fire-affected communities in South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, with the six-month inquiry due to deliver its final report before August 31.
The royal commission was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in February, during the nation's worst fire season on record. Thirty three people and millions of animals were killed, and more than 3000 homes destroyed, as fire tore through at least 12 million hectares of land.
Hundreds of homes were lost in the Bega Valley alone, as mega-fires converged across South Eastern Australia.
"My priority is to keep Australians safe and to do that, we need to learn from the Black Summer bushfires how nationally we can work better with the states and territories to better protect and equip Australians for living in hotter, drier and longer summers," Mr Morrison said.
Many brigades in the area had many environmentalists working on fire trucks.National Parks Association of NSW member and NSW Rural Fire Service firefighter David Gallan
"During the Black Summer bushfires, we entered a constitutional grey zone by directly initiating defence force deployments, utilising the first ever compulsory call out of reservists, with over 6,500 ADF personnel serving in support of state and territory response efforts. But we did that without clear rules.
"The inquiry acknowledges climate change, the broader impact of our summers getting longer, drier and hotter and is focussed on practical action that has a direct link to making Australians safer."
"That's why we need to look at what actions should be taken to enhance our preparedness, resilience and recovery through the actions of all levels of government and the community, for the environment we are living in.
National Parks Association of NSW member and NSW Rural Fire Service firefighter David Gallan attended the public hearing in Bega on March 18, exactly two years after his home was damaged in the Tathra bushfire.
He said while he did have concerns over the appointment of a former defence force chief to chair the inquiry, they were allayed after the forum, in which he said "everyone had a chance to enter discussion and reflect on other topics".
"I was keen to convey that environmentalists were interested in fire management. Many brigades in the area had many environmentalists working on fire trucks," Mr Gallan said.
"The premier was told when she visited after the Tathra fire in 2018 that through the continual restructures, the National Parks and Wildlife Service had lost hundreds of years of fire fighting knowledge and expertise through job cut,s and the loss of a dozen regional managers who had acted as incident controllers.
"It was noticeable that the commissioners realised that a one size fits all massed hazard reduction treatment of the landscape is ineffective.
"They understand that large areas of NSW were hazard reduced last year and that it is too expensive, polluting and scientifically pointless to have even more hazard reduction burns across the landscape. Prescribed burns have to be targeted for asset protection."
"The NPA and other conservation groups are concerned about the self-serving calls of the logging industry, after the mega fires, to log in national parks. Unburnt forest will be highly valuable for surviving wildlife and these areas can easily be disturbed by heavy logging machines.
"National Parks were not the issue during the fire season as all land tenures burnt in these weather driven fire events," he said.
Tathra resident David Neyle fought off flames and saved his home during the March 2018 bushfire, and is concerned crucial telecommunications infrastructure is not properly protected against future fires.
"I raised the issue that phone cell towers needed to be more resilient to bushfires when built in fire-prone regions. They only have around four hours of battery life. " he said.
"I said that telecommunications and broadcast infrastructure needed to be designed and built to withstand fire and remain operational for much longer when mains power is lost.
"I also mentioned the loss of broadcast services during the recent event when the fuel supplying generators ran out."
Mr Neyle said the registration website for the Bega public hearing was "almost impossible to find" and "challenging" to navigate, and there was "little-to-no notice" the forum was being held.
Doctor George Mountain resident Harriet Swift also attended the public hearing, and shared her concerns over the effects of deforestation and climate change. She said the commissioners were "very open" to discussing a range of topics.
"Industrial logging has hastened climate change and made the impacts of the fires worse," Ms Swift said.
"Plenty of local case studies from the recent fires illustrate this, most notably the Border Fire. It burnt from the Victorian border to Eden in a single day, through some of the most heavily logged forest in Australia.
"Nature is not the enemy. It has been interfering with nature by logging that we have made things worse," she said.
Public submissions to the royal commission will be accepted until Tuesday, April 28.