Video | An Anatomy of Australia’s Legal Framework for Wildfire

By: Francisca Yunis Richter, based on the research An anatomy of Australia’s legal framework for bushfire, content made by Dr. Phillipa C McCormack, Professor Jan McDonald, Associate Professor Michael Eburn, Dr. Stuart Little, Professor David MJS Bowman and Dr. Rebecca Harris, published on 2022

This research focuses on the laws that make up the essential components, or anatomy, of Australia’s legal system regulating wildfires. It provides a conceptual basis for the full range of fire-related regulations, from the offense of arson to the regulations surrounding consumer financing and the Constitution (McCormack et al, 2022). Here you can access the full research:

Published on October 21, 2022

“Australian landscapes, people and laws have a long history with fire, but climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of fires and the scale of their impact”

(McCormack et al, 2022)

Although there have always been wildfires in Australia, the frequency, topography scope, and intensity, are rapidly changing due to the climate crisis. The devastating 2019–20 fire season (“Black Summer”) was clearly indicative of the exponential increase in fire-related dangers to human and environmental assets across the country, which is being caused by shifts to Australia’s fire regimes (McCormack et al, 2022).

In order to improve resilience to the risk of wildfires due to the climate crisis, the law has a key role to play. The complete range of fire systems, including institutional and regulatory mechanisms for better preparedness, responses, and recovery from shifting fire regimes across sectors, scales, and actors, all play a part in this role (McCormack et al, 2022).”Australia’s framework of laws and policies relating to wildfire spans national, state and territory, and local scales. Some relate explicitly to fire, such as criminal laws about arson and legislation establishing fire agencies. Other laws and policies are indirectly relevant, such as protected area management laws and the ability of the Commonwealth executive to declare a state of emergency” (McCormack et al, 2022).

Source: An anatomy of Australia’s legal framework for bushfire (2022)
Professor Alan March Interviews Dr Phillipa C McCormack about her research on wildfires and climate adaptation law

“Understanding this legal context can help us to prepare more effectively for a future that will be defined by our experience of fire”

(McCormack et al, 2022).


McCormack, P., McDonald, J., Eburn, M., Little, S. J., Bowman, D. M. J. S., & Harris, R. M. B. (2022). An anatomy of Australia’s legal framework for bushfire. Melbourne University Law Review46(1). Available at: (Accessed October 17 2022)

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