We’re bringing together all of the information we have as it comes out for people with disability and families affected by the bushfires.
Support from the NDIS
👉 The NDIA say they can only help people once they are out of immediate danger – people should listen and act on the advice from emergency services.
👉 Once out of danger, participants and their families affected by the fires can call the usual NDIS number – 1800 800 110.
👉 It is only open the usual call centre hours Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm.
👉 You must tell the call centre you are being affected by the fires – the NDIA says you will be “prioritised”.
👉 Providers have been told that the priority is to provide support and services to people who need them. Payment will be made after the emergency through an “urgent plan review” if necessary.
👉 Usually NDIS participants have to fill out a “change of circumstance” form to request changes to their plan (and we all know how long THAT takes). But the NDIA promises they will bypass all that and will conduct NDIA initiated reviews so they can quickly make changes to your plan. They have promised to “minimise administration and paperwork”.
👉 A number of NDIS and Local Area Coordination offices are closed due to the fires. The list of offices open or closed is updated on the NDIS website.
👉 NDIA staff are now joining staff from the Department of Human Services at mobile service centres and in mobile teams. The NDIS website has a current list of where those centres are and the towns mobile teams will be visiting. The list is updated every day.
👉 The NDIA have summarised all their information in a helpful question and answer format – you can find things much more quickly and easily.
👉 All the information for NDIS participants affected by the fires is also now available in Easy Read.
Aids and equipment
👉 The NDIS call centre can provide approvals for urgent aids and equipment repairs over the phone. This also includes hiring equipment.
👉 If the repair (or hire) needs to occur outside call centre hours, the NDIA says go ahead and organise straight away – approval can be made the next day.
👉 Self managed and plan managed participants should just claim for repairs or hire from their current plan. If you do not have enough funds contact the call centre for help.
NDIS website links
- Bushfire response frequently asked questions
- NDIS and disaster response
- Office closures and emergency support
- Mobile services
- Easy read Bushfire information and support
Smoke and air quality
Smoke from the fires is not good for anyone but is particularly dangerous for young children, older people, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions. It is also particularly challenging for many people with disability.
Please follow the warnings from the state emergency services and public health officials.
The Bureau of Meteorology smoke and air quality information page gives you links to every state and territory agency that monitors air quality.
On the NDIS and disaster response page, the NDIA say “If you are concerned that the bushfire smoke is worsening the impact of your disability, you can contact the NDIS call centre on 1800 800 110 between 8am and 8pm.”
💵 People in areas declared a disaster may be eligible for cash payments to help them through the coming days and weeks. The best way to find out more and apply is by calling the Disaster Payment hotline – 180 22 66.
💵 The Prime Minister announced today (January 15) they are increasing the amount of money families with children can apply for as part of the Disaster Recovery Payment. You can call the hotline on 180 22 66 to see if you are eligible and to apply.
🛏 If you need a place to stay, the good folks at Accessible Australia are trying to help people find accessible accommodation (never an easy thing at the best of times). If you need accessible accommodation or would like to volunteer your home or a bed please visit their Facebook group.
🛏 Find A Bed Australia is a bigger group and not specific to accessible accommodation – but they do ask for information about accessibility when registering as a host, so they have some accessible properties available too.
Mental health support
The Minister for Health has announced some increased funding for mental health services to support people in areas affected by the fires. The services include:
👉 10 free counselling sessions for people affected by the fires, including emergency services and volunteers. The sessions – offered at recovery centres, Service Australia centres, and existing local mental health centres in fire affected regions – will provide short-term support, social support, counselling and family based support to help people through the immediate trauma and crisis.
👉 In the longer term anyone who has been affected by the fires will be eligible to have 10 additional sessions with a GP, psychologist, or other mental health professional. These sessions will receive a Medicare rebate. These sessions will be in addition to the 10 sessions currently available under Medicare.
Accessible resources and information
🖥 The good folks at New South Wales Council for Intellectual Disability have great Easy Read resources for people with an intellectual disability. They have one on bushfire information and one on managing in a heatwave that might be particularly helpful at the moment.
❤️ The Red Cross has a range of resources to help people look after themselves during and after an emergency. It includes a helpful Easy Read booklet on coping after a crisis. Information is also available in multiple languages and formats including audio, and large print. The Deaf Society have created Auslan videos of the Red Cross Redi Plan.
📕 A group of early intervention providers called Early Connections have developed a social story about bushfires. It can be altered to suit your family or circumstances.
♿️ IDEAS have also just created eBility– a Temporary Bushfire Crisis Relief Exchange site for People with Disability to donate or find accessible disability equipment in good working order and any related non-perishable consumables. This is particularly critical for people with disability who are not NDIS participants.
👍 Key Word Signs Australia have created a series of bushfire themed handouts of signs and descriptions for people who use Key Word Sign to communicate.
💬 Two Way Street have made a great “Talking about bushfires” chat board for people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
🙌 Expression Australia are posting Auslan translated videos of bushfire updates from the Victorian Government on their Facebook page. They also have a great series of resources on the Deaf Emergency Info website.
Other people and groups who can help you
ℹ️ IDEAS are a national disability information service. They are fantastic and have lots of emergency information at their fingertips. Their phone number is 1800 029 904. They have just published a great Bushfire Crisis Information page.
💻 People With Disability Australia have also published a Bushfire and Emergency Information page on their website. They can also help you with advocacy should you need it.
😀 Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) have a Bushfire resources for Victorians with disability page. They can also help you with advocacy should you need it.
📞 Telstra have announced free use of their payphones around the country, as well as wifi at their associated Telstra Air hotspots.
How you can help
And for those who want to reach out and lend a hand, the following article contains lots of different ways you can contribute including donations to charities, fire services and wildlife organisations. Here’s how you can help Australia’s bushfire victims – SMH
If you or anyone you know have any problems with the NDIS call centre please email us and let us know.
That is all the information we have at the moment. Like you we have heaps of other questions. We are trying to get answers today. If there is something you want to know, or something you think we should add to the resources on this page, please comment below or drop us a line at and we will follow up for you.
Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone on the front line who is working day and night – the firefighters, the emergency personnel, the workers and volunteers at the evacuation centres, everyone who has volunteered a home, a bed, a safe space, all those helping in any way they can. It is our community at its best.
And please everyone – stay safe. xx