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aerial view of driveway and burnt house and bush

From the summer of 2020 bushfire crisis to the COVID-19 crisis, these past years have been dominated by stress, worry and anxiety for many of us. Summer is coming around again. In the event of a bushfire, you need to have a plan in place ready to act on. Are you ready?

In the Summer of 2020, we faced an unprecedented natural disaster, but it was not a one-off. The Royal Commission into National Disaster Arrangements heard evidence this year that climate-driven natural hazards, like bushfires, storms and floods, will happen more often and be more intense due to climate change. This is our new normal, and we need to adapt and be ready.

As an information provider for people with disability, IDEAS was uniquely placed to hear the impacts the lack of access and inclusion in disaster and emergency planning had on people with disability at the height of the crisis. We submitted to the Disability Royal Commission on emergency planning and response. See what we had to say here.

Some quick stats from the Black Summer Bushfires

  • 33 people died directly from the fires
  • A further 445 deaths are linked to smoke inhalation from the fires
  • Over 3000 people were admitted to hospital for respiratory problems, and 17,000 people presented for asthma.
  • Over 3000 homes were destroyed.
  • Billions of animals died or were displaced.
  • An estimated 18.6 million hectares burned between July 2019 and March 2020.

The 19/20 bushfire season changed our understanding of a natural disaster. This was a nationwide and indiscriminate disaster. Many people became trapped by huge mega-fires, the biggest on record, and planning to make a plan or planning to “just pack up and go if the fire comes this way” is not enough to ensure your safety in this climate. If the fire comes your way, there may be no way out. In many instances, if the fire comes your way, you need to be already gone.

Although last year’s scorching and tinder-dry conditions are not forecast for this summer, much-needed rain over the spring has meant an abundance of growth. Where there was little risk from grass fires last summer, this season grass fires pose a real threat to properties and life.

Last year, we made and shared lots of resources for bushfire preparation and planning for people with disability. We are reviewing and updating these and will add them here for your use.

Bushfire planning for people with disability

Fire Safety
Bushfire Crisis Information
Packing for an Emergency
AIDER Program (NSW Rural Fire Service)
Beat the Heat: ways to stay well in a heatwave 
Look after your health in the bushfire emergency 
Moving Forward After a Crisis

Other resources

The Red Cross and The ABC have partnered to bring this guide Stay Connected to help you get ready for emergencies. 

pdfStay Connected

Government planning and policy for people with disability in crisis

IDEAS Has A Say: Disability Royal Commission - Emergency Planning and Response
Independent fire emergency information for people with disabilities 

Need more information?

If life is in danger, call Triple Zero (000). For information on bushfires, contact your state fire authority

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call the National Relay Service on 1300 555 727 or use other contact options provided by the NRS to contact any of the above. 

If you need an interpreter or translation services, please call the National Translating and Interpreting Service or TIS on 131 450.

IDEAS does information so you can be bushfire ready.