On 21 November 2019, lightning set off a series of fires in East Gippsland. What followed were ongoing fires and mass evacuations across the north-east of the state.
The affected communities are disproportionately older. In each of the six Local Government Areas where the Victorian Government declared a State of Disaster, more than one-quarter of residents are over the age of 60: ranging from 27% in Wellington Shire to 36% in East Gippsland. In contrast, only 9% of Melbourne’s population is older than 60.
During the bushfires, we set up a dedicated bushfire information section on our website, featuring up-to-date information about how to access critical services. COTA Victoria spoke directly to the Environment Protection Authority, the Department of Health, Financial Counselling Victoria and Emergency Management Victoria to determine the most helpful information to provide. The page includes information about:
- household insurance
- lost bank documents
- contaminated water supply
- telecommunications service disruptions
- counselling and support services
- financial counselling services
- accessing hardship departments of utility services, banks, insurance companies and telecommunications service providers.
We are also in regular contact with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure the needs of older people are responded to as part of Victoria’s disaster and recovery response.