CFA’s Preparing Vulnerable People (PVP) project has launched a new online training module to prepare those at elevated risk of bushfire impacts.
Photo: Mark and Jane Oakley from Wiseleigh lost their home in the bushfires in East Gippsland last year.
The training module, Bushfire Planning: How to support your clients, has been developed for those working with people who are at greater risk due to disability, age or social isolation, including case managers, support workers and home nursing staff.
The training will provide community organisations with advice on how to support people at risk, and assist vulnerable people living in our communities to develop a bushfire safety plan.
Wiseleigh resident Mark Oakley is one such person who lives with pre-existing health conditions and was forced to evacuate last bushfire season.
Mark and his wife Jane were at home on their 10-acre Wiseleigh property when they were threatened by fire from the North, East and West late December 2019.
“It was a stinking hot and windy day…it had doubled in size within 15 minutes,” Jane said.
“The two of us weren’t going to be able to fight a fire that’s uncontrollable and as unpredictable as this one was.”
The couple evacuated to Paynesville and their home was destroyed by fire overnight.
Mark said he lives with fibromyalgia, causing generalised pain and muscle stiffness.
He also has spinal issues and suffered a heart attack a few years ago, so he knew he could not stay to defend and instead, had to evacuate.
“10 years ago, I would’ve stayed to defend… but we certainly did the right thing by just leaving,” Mark said.
“You need to understand your capabilities and have a bushfire plan in place, especially if you are vulnerable.”
The PVP project is a three-year CFA-led initiative aiming to improve bushfire preparedness planning for people who are vulnerable.
Gippsland Disability Advocate Delia Harry said the new training will be pivotal in ensuring every person in our communities are well-prepared in the event of a fire.
“This training will equip more community and social service workers with improved skills for bushfire planning for clients who are at greater risk,” Delia said.
“There will definitely be a next time, as much as we’d like to think there won’t be, so now is the time we really need to be preparing for when the next time happens.
“Particularly those living with disabilities, we need to be able to help them prepare their bushfire plan and ensure they are fire-safe.”
The e-learning module, Bushfire Planning: How to support your clients and its supporting resources are now available on CFA’s website at www.cfa.vic.gov.au/workers.