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Humanitarian Crisis Innovation third sector

Disability info provider IDEAS implements resources for people with disability affected by bushfires

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Australia’s independent disability information provider IDEAS has been working around the clock to ensure affected people have ready access to the information, equipment and practical services they need during the catastrophic bushfires.

The fires, which have forced thousands of Australians to evacuate their homes and many more thousands displaced, continue to affect the lives of many people throughout the country, with situations being particularly challenging for people with disability.

 “Emergencies like the bushfires can be particularly challenging for people with disability and their families particularly in terms of finding access to information and assistance – and even some things many people take for granted such as using a bathroom at an evacuation centre,” IDEAS Executive Officer Diana Palmer said.

 “That’s why IDEAS has developed initiatives to assist people through these difficult times including an online information portal with bushfire information and emergency advice for people with disabilities; a new ebility website to fill the gap for replacing disability equipment and items lost to the fires; and Ezy-Dun – to ensure everyone who has been evacuated or temporarily housed has access to a bathroom with privacy and dignity,” she said.

IDEAS has collated key bushfire information and emergency advice for people with disability, including accessible easy read fire plans and emergency pack lists on its website. The live chat function and toll-free number provide a quick answer to any questions people might have that aren’t listed on the website.

IDEAS also launched an ebility website to fill the gap for replacing disability equipment and items lost to the fires, while the specialist assistance and equipment replacement processes managed by NDIA are being put in place. The website hosts information about the fires, allows the wider community to offer specialist disability equipment and items, and also support those with disability ask for certain equipment – fast tracking access, mobility and independence for people in need.

Finally,Ezy-Dun ensures everyone has access to a bathroom with privacy and dignity. With thousands displaced from the fires, this new practical asset is designed to be deployed wherever people from fire-affected areas are evacuated or temporarily housed.

Palmer said that the consequence of emergency situations is particularly severe for people with a disability because accessibility is not often the priority at a time of crisis.

 “We understand the pressure our emergency services and evacuation coordinators are under at the moment and we applaud their service,” she said. “Community leaders have acted valiantly to keep people safe but those with a disability should not be an afterthought, particularly in a time of crisis.”

IDEAS is a not-for-profit with over 400 members made up of people with disability, family members, carers and supporters of people with disability.  

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