Older people are often overlooked during emergency events and yet they may be more susceptible as a result of multiple factors including poor mobility, chronic health conditions, and social isolation. The vulnerability of older people to the smoke event was raised as a key issue during the mine fire, particularly with regards to the call for evacuations.
The aim of this component of the Hazelwood Health Study is to assess the impact of the smoke event on older people, focusing particularly on a review of the policy decisions made with respect to older people during the event. The objective of this work is to inform best practice for future emergency events.
This phase of the research is now complete and involved focus groups held with over 90 local older people and community members and interviews with 17 local decision-makers and representatives of services which supported older people during the smoke event, with reviews of relevant literature and various government policies.