Construction has commenced on Australia’s first-ever Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility in Western Australia, which is expected to lead the way for the rest of the world in bushfire management and skills development.

The State Government committed $18 million for the facility, which will be a place for career officers, emergency service volunteers, bushfire practitioners, researchers, scientists and others to gather to share and learn from the best bushfire management practices and science.

The Centre, funded by the Emergency Services Levy, will run courses in bushfire prevention, management and training and have specialist indoor and outdoor training facilities, collaboration spaces, and an interpretive learning centre for the community to come and learn about bushfires.

A key focus of the Centre will also be developing a Traditional Fire Program, believed to be the first of its kind, which will explore traditional Indigenous mitigation and firefighting methods.

Locally based company, Perkins Builders, has been awarded the contract to build the Centre, which is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020, at the Peel Business Park in Nambeelup.

The Bushfire Centre of Excellence team has already been operating since July 2019 at an interim facility at the Pinjarra Heritage Train Station and have introduced new training programs for career and volunteer officers.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said the new Centre will not only collect the best bushfire management research and practices from around the nation and world, but it will also harness the knowledge and skills of local volunteers and career officers who have spent decades working in the area.

“The Centre promises to become internationally renowned for the research and information that it will collect, but also for the level of training and skills development it will offer,” Mr McGowan said.

Emergency Services Minister, Francis Logan, said the Bushfire Centre of Excellence facility will harness lessons learned from academia, science and traditional Aboriginal land practices.

“It will bring career and volunteer services and agencies together to learn from each other and work collaboratively to lead the way in the prevention and management of bushfires,” Mr Logan said.

“This $18 million Centre is the cornerstone of our investment in mitigation to better protect the community against the threat of bushfires, as well as providing an opportunity to contribute national leadership and support to other States and Territories in bushfire management.

“The building’s unique design of curved walls and high raking ceilings reflects Indigenous Australia with the curved concrete resembling a river mouth and the roof representing the traditional humpy structure.”