Disasters and Crises

Natural disasters and crises like cyclones, floods, bushfires and virus outbreaks may make you may feel worried, anxious or unsure about what to do.

You have the right to receive the help you need during disasters and crises. This page provides information and resources to help you.  

Note:
If you are in danger or concerned for your safety call 000.


This page currently provides information about Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
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Disasters and emergencies

While they are not common, disasters and emergency situations may affect you at some point in your life.

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These could include:

  • fires
  • floods
  • cyclones and hurricanes
  • heatwaves
  • droughts
  • medical emergencies
  • mental health crises
  • virus outbreaks
  • power outages
  • terrorist attacks.

Health in emergencies and crises

In any emergency or crisis, your health can be affected. This may be because you have been hurt or injured, or because you do not have access to things like:  

  • your healthcare providers
  • your medication
  • equipment that you usually use
  • shelter.

How to prepare

It can be hard to know when you will have to deal with a natural disaster or crisis. But there are three key steps you can take to help you to prepare just in case.  

1.   Put emergency contacts in your phone. These should include:

  • Ambulance, Fire Brigade and Police: 000
  • Australian Government disaster recovery assistance hotline: 180 2266
  • Australian Red Cross number for people who have evacuated during an emergency: 1800 727 077
  • emergency numbers in your state from the Australian Government website (external link)
  • Poisons Information Line: 13 11 26
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • contact details for your doctor and other medical practitioners
  • the number for a close family member or friend that does not live with you who you can call for help in an emergency.

2. Write down what you need in an emergency and keep these things in a safe place. These should include things like:

  • important documents (or certified copies of these) like birth certificates, passports, drivers’ licences, Medicare and concession cards
  • extra supplies of medication, clothes, toiletries, sanitary and incontinence items, blankets and anything else you would need if you had to stay away from home
  • your medical information, or any information others may need to know in an emergency about your disability or medical condition and any medications you take
  • a meal plan if you have allergies or specific dietary needs
  • other things like a phone charger, torch, glasses and radio.
Tip: MedicAlert is an organisation that provides MedicAlert IDs in the form of wrist bands, key chains and necklaces that you can easily have on hand. Learn more on the MedicAlert website (external link).  

3. Have a plan. Think about things like:

  • where you could stay if you need to leave your home and how you would get there
  • whether you need insurance for things like your house, car, pets, health, medical equipment or assistive technology
  • what you, your family, children, pets, assistance or companion animals would need if you had to stay away from home for a few days or longer
  • who you could call for help in an emergency.
Tip: Visit the Red Cross website (external link) for more information and planning guides to help you prepare for an emergency.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (also called COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered virus. The World Health Organisation has announced that coronavirus is a pandemic. This means that it is currently spreading around the world.

There is a lot of information circulating about Coronavirus. We have collated some reliable information below that you may find useful.

Tip: Download WWDA’s Easy English book: About Coronavirus.  


Watch First People’s Disability Network's (external website) Auslan video about Coronavirus:

Seven steps to help you stay healthy

The World Health Organisation (external link) has provided the following 7 steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  1. wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitiser in public places
  2. avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
  3. cover your cough with the bend in your elbow or use a tissue and throw it away afterwards
  4. avoid crowded or busy places and stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people at all times
  5. stay at home if you feel unwell – even if you only have a slight fever or cough
  6. if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing,  seek medical care early and call by phone first
  7. keep up to date with the latest information.
Tip: The Australian Government Department of Health website is regularly updated with information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) (external link).


COVID-19 testing

If you feel unwell, or have symptoms of a cold or flu, you should contact your doctor and ask about being tested for COVID-19.

When you contact your doctor’s clinic, you should tell the staff about your symptoms and travel history. You should also let them know if you’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 test involves a swab being taken from the back of your throat and up your nose. If you have any concerns about the test, you should talk to your doctor about this. You will receive results 1-5 days after you have the test. You must remain isolated in your home or accommodation while you are waiting for the results of your test. If your test is positive, you must continue to isolate for at least 2 weeks.

Tip: If you’re sick and think you might have Coronavirus, you can check your symptoms using Health Direct’s COVID-19 Symptom Checker (external link).


Australian Government COVID-19 website

There is a lot of information circulating about COVID-19, but not all of it is reliable. The Australian Government COVID-19 website (external link) is regularly updated to give you the latest Coronavirus news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia. Visit the Australian Government COVID-19 website (external link).

COVIDSafe App

The Australian Government has recently released the COVIDSafe app. This app aims to quickly alert people if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). You can find more information about the app and decide whether to download it on the Australian Government COVID-19 website (external link).

Disability Information Helpline

The Australian government has set up a helpline for people with disability to get information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and supports. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST).

To contact the helpline you can call 1800 643 787 or use the National Relay Service (external link). For more information go to the Ideas website (external link).

Issues for women with disability during COVID-19

Domestic and family violence

Due to social distancing and self-isolation requirements, women, including children, may be at higher risk of experiencing domestic violence, abuse and other threats to their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make sure that everyone stays safe during COVID19, you may want to organise with a friend or family member to regularly check up on each other.

If you are in danger call 000.

If you are experiencing violence you can call 1800RESPECT for support, counselling and referral. Call 1800 737 732 or chat to someone online (external link).

Tip: you can learn more about violence and where to get help in our section about Safety and Violence.

Access to essential items

Essential items include grocery items, medications, sanitary products and cleaning products.

Australian supermarkets have made changes to help people access groceries. These include:

  • limiting quantities of products customers can purchase per transaction
  • allocating certain shopping hours for those with senior’s cards, healthcare cards or concession cards
  • offering delivery services or priority assistance for those with senior’s cards, healthcare cards or concession cards.

To find out what supermarkets and chemists are offering, you can call them or visit their website. Links to some of the major Australian supermarkets and chemists are provided below:

There are also charities who can help if you are in desperate circumstances. Find out more on the Disability Service Consulting website (external link).

Tip: Instascript is an app that you can use on your computer or phone to fill a prescription online and have it sent directly to your local pharmacy. Learn more on the Instascript website (external link).

Access to income support  

As a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, there are many people in Australia who are struggling with money.  

To help out, the Australian Government has introduced a range of payments for people who have lost work or income.

You can find information about the different payments available on the Ideas website (external link) and apply through Centrelink (external link).

Tip: There are also charities who can help if you are in desperate circumstances. Find out more on the Disability Service Consulting website (external link).


Access to healthcare

As people are required to self-isolate more and more, many women with disability are worried about access to healthcare and medications.

The Federal Government’s recent expansion of Telehealth services means that you can access doctors, nurses, specialists and allied health providers remotely if you are an Australian citizen. This means that you can talk to the healthcare provider, get scripts, medications and referrals over the phone or online.

If you require this service you should ask your doctor or healthcare provider about their Telehealth options. Telehealth services are available for free to anyone with a Medicare card until 30 September 2020.

Tip: You can learn more about Telehealth and how it works on the Doctors on Demand website (external link).

Access to support workers and advocates

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As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many women and girls with disability are concerned about whether they will have access to support workers and advocates. If you are concerned you should ask your regular support worker about the support you will receive during the COVID-19 crisis.


Support workers

If you need to look for a new support worker, you can use online databases to do this like Hire Up (external link) or Mable (external link).

You can also find NDIS registered services and support workers on the National Disability Insurance Scheme website (external link).


Disability advocacy

Disability advocacy is work an individual, a group or an organisation does to stop a person with disability being treated badly, or to help a person with disability with any issues they may have.

You can find an advocate using the Australian Government Disability Advocacy Finder (external link).


Anxiety, stress and depression

If you are feeling more anxious than usual or struggling to deal with additional stress due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, there is support available. 

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue have created a Fact Sheet on how to deal with your mental health and the coronavirus (external link).

Beyond Blue also offers short term counselling and referrals. You can call 1300 22 4636 or chat online (external link).

Lifeline

If you are thinking about taking your own life or experiencing a personal crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat to someone online (external link).

Tip: You can join WWDA's Facebook group to be part of our community of women and girls with disability (external link).


Social isolation

To stay healthy and avoid the spread of the virus, many people are being asked to or are choosing to self-isolate. While this is very important to stop the spread of the virus, it also means that it is now more important than ever to stay connected with others in our community.

Communicating with friends, family and colleagues

There are some great ways that you can continue to communicate with family and friends when you are isolated at home including:

  • Zoom video calls (external link)
  • Skype video calls (external link)
  • Facetime video calls (external link)
  • phone calls, text messages or letters
  • online groups or events on Facebook (external link) or EventBrite (external link).
Tip: Download WWDA’s Plain English guide to using Zoom Meetings.

Things to do

If you are struggling or bored in isolation, it can help to take up a new hobby or do an online course.

Tip: You can learn more about educational opportunities and hobbies in the Lead and Take Part section of this website.

Important Resources

External website
1800RESPECT
A 24-hour confidential information, counselling and support service. Phone or chat online now.
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Australian Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
This website is regularly updated to give you the latest Coronavirus news and advice from government agencies across Australia.
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COVIDSafe App
The COVIDSafe app helps to identify if you have been in close contact with someone with Coronavirus COVID-19.
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About Coronavirus. Also called COVID-19
An Easy English book about Coronavirus (also called COVID-19).
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Australian Government Easy Read Coronavirus Resources
The Australian Government Department of Social Services has a range of Easy Read fact sheets on Coronavirus.
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WWDA Easy English Book: Your Health Rights
Easy English book about your rights in healthcare.
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Zoom Meetings
Zoom is a program that allows you to run or join a meeting online. This document explains how to download Zoom, create an account, host a meeting and join a meeting.
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Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA): COVID-19 Resources
AWAVA has collated a range of resources to help support the safety of women during the COVID-19 crisis. You can find them on this web page.
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Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA): Bushfire and Emergency Relief Resources
AWAVA has collated a range of resources to help support the safety of women during bushfires and other emeregncies. You can find them on this web page.
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First People's Disability Network (FPDN): Coronavirus in Auslan
This video explains Coronavirus and how to reduce your risk of contracting it in Auslan (Australian sign language).
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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
This page on the NDIS website is updated regularly with latest information about Coronavirus for NDIS participants and community members.
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Feminist Organising Toolkit: Planning Virtual Meetings
This toolkit was produced by Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) to support women to organise online groups, meetings, protests and more.
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Speak Out Video: COVID-19
An animated video about Coronavirus, how to stay safe and keep others safe.
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Collaborating 4 Inclusion: COVID-19 Planning Resource for People with Disability
This is a planning resource to help people with disability handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Access Easy English COVID-19 Resources
This web page has series of Easy English books about Coronavirus including how to stay healthy and what the Government rules are.
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Council for Intellectual Disability: Easy Read Health Resources
This web page has a number of Easy Read resources about Coronavirus and staying healthy.
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Expression Australia: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Videos
This website is updated regularly with Auslan-only video updates accompanied by an English text summary.
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Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO): Coronavirus Information
This web page is regularly updated with information during the Coronavirus outbreak.
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WWDA's 'About Coronavirus' translated in different languages
WWDA has produced an Easy English ‘What is Coronavirus‘ document to explain some key facts about COVID-19 in a simple way. The document is now available in 11 different languages.
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Northern Territory Government Aboriginal resources
This web page has a range of Audio files with health messages about Coronavirus in Aboriginal languages developed by the Northern Territory Government.
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EthnoLink: COVID-19 Translated Resources
This web page has a range of resources about COVID-19 in over 51 different languages.
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Techpoint: How to Set Up Emergency Contacts on your Phone
This article explains in steps how to set up emergency contacts on your apple or android phone.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mental Health Information and Support
This page provides resources that will help keep you informed with the latest health information about coronavirus as well as looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
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Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
This web page offers a range of resources for people with disability about Coronavirus (COVID-19).
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Coronavirus: how to wash your hands video
A video about how to wash your hands to protect yourself from Coronavirus.
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WDV: Easy English Guide to Facebook
An Easy English guide to Facebook written by Women With Disabilities Victoria.
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WDV: Easy English Guide to Skype
An Easy English guide to using Skype written by Women With Disabilities Victoria.
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Inclusion Australia video: COVIDSafe App
This video explains how the COVIDSAFE App can help keep you safe and helps you decide weather to download the app.
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Where to next:

External website
Disability Information Helpline
You can contact the Disability Information Helpline to talk about your concerns in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19). Call 1800 643 787 or go to the linked website.
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Disability Advocacy Finder
A website that can help you find a disability advocate.
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Beyond Blue
Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health.
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Lifeline
Lifeline is a national organisation that supports Australians in mental health crisis. If you are in crisis you can call Lifeline on 13 14 11.
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Find a Health Service
An online tool to help you find a near by health service that meets your needs.
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Head to Health
A website with mental health information and resources for your needs.
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Red Cross: Help in Emergencies
The Red Cross website has information to help you prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
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NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you have a problem with a registered NDIS provider, you can make a complaint on this website.
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Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA)
WWDA website where you can find a range of government submissions, reports and publications about women and girls with disability.
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MedicAlert
MedicAlert is an organisation that provides MedicAlert ID’s in the form of wrist bands, key chains, necklaces etc. that you can easily have on hand.
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World Health Organisation (WHO)
The WHO website is regularly updated with the latest information about Coronavirus around the world.
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Instascript
Instascript is an app you can use on your computer or phone to get a prescription online and have it sent directly to your local pharmacy.
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SBS: News about Coronavirus
This website provides news about Coronavirus in over 60 different languages.
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Skype YouTube Channel
Skype's YouTube channel has a range of helpful videos about how to use Skype to meet with friends and colleagues online.
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Zoom YouTube Channel
Zoom's YouTube channel has a range of helpful videos about how to use Zoom to meet with your friends or colleagues online.
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ABC News: Coronavirus
This page on the ABC News website is dedicated to providing updates on Coronavirus.
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