Respite measures

Face masks

The Department of Health distributed P2 face masks at the community respite centre, the community health assessment centre and mobile information points.110 Mr Antony John of Morwell considered the dust masks to be inadequate for the respiratory protection required during exposure to particulate matter. He was also concerned that the dust masks did not fit children or babies.111

Figure 4.54 Children in Morwell wearing face masks

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Image Source Newspix / News Ltd

OTHER RESPITE MEASURES

The Victorian Government initiated a number of other measures to assist the community to seek respite from the smoke. Ms Merita Tabain, Chair of the Emergency Management Joint Public Information Committee, told the Board that: ‘We were looking around for community events that were outside of the area to give people an opportunity to leave.’112

Additional respite measures included:

  • 13,500 people travelled for free to and from Morwell on V/Line
  • 171 people received free entry to Melbourne Museum venues
  • 5,372 people received free entry to Zoos Victoria zoos
  • free transport and food and drink vouchers were provided to the Morwell community to attend activities in neighbouring communities.113

Scouts Victoria also offered free temporary accommodation at popular campsites across Victoria.114

The Victorian Government introduced a ‘holiday house scheme’ to provide accommodation support.115 At the community consultation on 8 May 2014, the Board heard that the community did not think that the holiday house scheme worked well.116 Ms Tracie Lund, Morwell Neighbourhood House Coordinator, described her frustration at trying to find required information about the holiday house scheme. She told the Board that as the coordinator of the local Neighbourhood House she received calls from residents who were willing to offer their house as a part of the program. However, she had difficulty knowing where to forward this information.117

Latrobe City Council was the contact point for the scheme. Mr John Mitchell, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Latrobe City Council, told the Board that there was some confusion about the execution of the scheme when it was initially announced as details about the scheme were still being finalised.118