Multi-agency review leads to Rainbow Serpent Festival change of plans

Published on 08 January 2020

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A multi-agency review of the efficacy of Rainbow Serpent Festival 2020 this week found that the event could not be safely held at Lexton on Australia Day long weekend.

The agency assessments presented a number of safety concerns as part of the review following the Lexton-Ben Major Fire, which damaged the Festival grounds. The agencies present, in conjunction with Festival organisers and Pyrenees Shire Council representatives, determined that the Festival could not be safely held so soon after the fire, as there are further measures to be taken to mitigate hazards at the site.

“The safety of patrons and staff has always been the number one priority for the Rainbow Serpent Festival,” Pyrenees Shire Council Mayor Tanya Kehoe said. “We share the Rainbow Serpent Festival’s disappointment that the event could not be held, but are looking forward to working with them on the new-look Rainbow Serpent Festival 2020 and welcoming festival goers back to Lexton later in the year.”

Rainbow Serpent Festival have announced plans to hold the 2020 Festival in two stages, with a one-day event in Melbourne over the Australia Day long weekend, and a second event at Lexton over Easter. Festival organisers have also announced plans to assist with the recovery following the fire, with community-related events including tree planting, a working bee, and the delayed opening of the Servo@23 Arts Hub in Beaufort.

The decision to adapt the Festival format was also taken in consideration of a broader social responsibility to emergency services, which are currently focused in areas of need with more than 100 fires still burning across Australia.

“This was a difficult call to make, but it was the correct call based on the current state of emergency in Victoria,” Cr Kehoe said. “We thank Festival organisers for putting patron safety first, and Festival patrons for their patience while this decision was made.”

The multi-agency review included input from CFA, Victoria Police, Forest Fire Management Victoria, Rainbow Serpent Festival organisers and Pyrenees Shire Council representatives.

The Lexton-Ben Major Fire burned approximately 3,000 hectares on December 20 and 21 2019. Pyrenees Shire Council is focusing on recovery with a Recovery Implementation Plan to be presented at the Council Meeting on Tuesday 21 January 2020.