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Supporting people of increased vulnerability to prepare for the threat of bushfire.

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Supporting people of increased vulnerability to prepare for the threat of bushfire.

‘Everyone is both vulnerable and resilient. Everyone has a unique combination of capabilities and capacity to prepare, cope and recover from disaster, which means they are vulnerable and resilient in different ways.

Individuals with high vulnerability experience disproportionally higher social and economic costs from disasters.’ (Profiling Australia’s Vulnerability. National Resilience Taskforce, 2018)

Children and those individuals who are frail, injured, and elderly, socially isolated or have some level of cognitive and/or physical disability living in a high bushfire risk area have increased vulnerability to the threat of bushfire. Either because they do not understand their level of risk, or because they are less able to physically or mentally prepare and withstand a bushfire and its associated hazards.

These people are unlikely to have the skills or capacity to prepare and defend their home. They may also lack an understanding of the need for a leave early plan and an emergency backup plan. Their survival may depend on emergency services, family, friends, neighbours, volunteers and/or a care worker.

BRN ran a Bushfire-Ready Carers and Community Care (BRCCC) project in the Huon Valley and Kingborough municipal areas. It focused on the role that carers, volunteers and community service providers who support people in a community or home setting can play in bushfire preparedness.

The project aim was to build their confidence to assist a client, neighbour or family member to prepare and practise a leave early Bushfire Survival Plan.

Thirteen bushfire-ready workshops were delivered to 122 people.

These carers, volunteers and home care workers were responsible for visiting or supporting approximately 716 people living in areas of varying bushfire risk. Feedback from participants about the benefits of the training included: “The info session and workshop was really good. I am glad I participated. It definitely got me thinking. Very helpful, really exposed how unprepared many of my clients are.

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The feedback and advice provided by project participants have resulted in a Bushfire-Ready Carers Kit. The kit uses existing resources and presents them as a ‘toolbox’ or ‘kit’ to help carers, volunteers and workers assist a resident living in a high bushfire risk area.

Volunteers, carers and workers can use these resources to:

  • Identify if a resident’s property has a bushfire risk
  • Assist a resident to undertake a self-assessment, with critical questions that need to be covered for preparing an emergency plan
  • Become familiar with key bushfire concepts, terminology and TFS bushfire emergency advice
  • Assist a resident to complete a leave early plan.

Bushfire-Ready Carers Kit

Step 1 - Identify bushfire risk:
TasALERT RiskReady tool can identify natural hazards and provide information about a property’s bushfire risk. You can print a property report of the result to help with your planning process.

Step 2 - Do a self-assessment:
Understand an individual’s risk factors: The People at Increased Risk in an Emergency guide is for community service providers. It helps them consider and address factors that can increase a person’s level of risk in an emergency. This resource includes an emergency risk self-assessment tool for individuals.

Step 3 - Bushfire facts:
BRN Bushfire Essentials flyer provides key bushfire information, such as the definitions of Fire Danger Ratings and explanation of bushfire Alerts and Warnings.

Step 4 - Complete a leave early plan:
The TFS Leaving Early plan template can be used by carers, volunteers and workers to assist the resident ith the details of their plan. The BRN online plan tool is another template format for a plan.

There are regional Community Development Officers (CDO) that deliver the Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods program in targeted high risk communities. Agencies delivering volunteering programs, Home and Community Care, My Aged Care and NDIS packages can be supported by a CDO to provide bushfire-ready sessions and engage with carers, volunteers and workers on what key information and resources can assist them when speaking about bushfire emergency planning with residents.

Lesley King, Project Manager

Friday, April 17, 2020