During an emergency or imminent threat of an emergency, special consideration must be given to the evacuation of vulnerable people in the community.
A vulnerable person is an individual who is socially isolated and without any other supports. Other factors that may be considered when assessing an individual’s vulnerability include:
It is likely that more time, resources, support and assistance will be required to safely evacuate vulnerable people in the community and in facilities, such as hospitals, aged care facilities and educational facilities.
These facilities should have existing evacuation plans in place to undertake an evacuation if necessary. However, such plans must not rely on the availability of emergency service personnel to undertake the evacuation.
Some people living in the community may be unable to activate their own evacuation plan without support and a small number who do not have a personal support network will require assistance to safely evacuate.
The Departments of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with municipal councils, and other support agencies will provide tailored advice to vulnerable people. This advice will include the need to develop personal safety plans with an emphasis on leaving early and identification of appropriate support to do so.
The Vulnerable Persons in Emergency Policy (Nov 2012) has been jointly developed by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health, to address key elements of Recommendation 3 of Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report relating to vulnerable people, and associated recommendations.
Colac Otway Shire Council coordinates a local Vulnerable Persons Register as per Department of Human Services (DHS) guidelines. Council has identified vulnerable individuals across the municipality through Health and Community Care (HACC) services. A database of these individuals is maintained through the municipal council administered CrisisWorks (formerly MECC Central) emergency management system.
Funded agencies are responsible for entering and maintaining information for any of their clients who have been identified as vulnerable. The Vulnerable Persons Registers is accessible to authorised Victoria Police representatives, for consideration in planning and exercising, and for responding to emergencies.
Council maintains a register of facilities, where vulnerable people are likely to be found, for example, aged care facilities, hospitals, schools and childcare centres. This list is provided in Appendix 5 – Register of Facilities – Vulnerable People.