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Bushfire royal commission hearing set for next week

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A ceremonial hearing for the bushfire royal commission will be held in Canberra on Friday next week ahead of formal hearings in April.

The royal commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was established after the extreme bushfire season of 2019-20 resulted in loss of life, property and wildlife and environmental destruction.

It will examine how Australia is prepared and co-ordinated across states and territories to respond to bushfires and other natural disasters, as well as mitigation and recovery.

Though access will be limited due to health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the March 31 ceremonial hearing will be live-streamed to allow a wide audience to observe proceedings. Transcripts will also be made available.

Hearings will follow in Queensland in April, East Gippsland in May, NSW in June and Canberra in July.

Royal commission members visited fire-affected communities during March to observe firsthand the impact of the recent bushfires. They spoke to small groups representing fire-affected communities and providing background and context ahead of the hearings.

The royal commission is accepting submissions until April 3.