COVID-19 prompts emergency relief rethink from council

A RELIEF centre will only be opened in Wellington Shire during an emergency this summer as a last resort.

Wellington Shire Council has urged residents who live in an area classed as at-risk for bushfire or flood to have relocation plans in place prior to a major emergency.

COVID-19 and State Control Centre advice has forced changes to the way council will provide emergency shelter and emergency relief assistance.

With gathering evacuees in enclosed spaces and in close proximity against COVID-19 guidelines, emergency relief centres will only be opened as a last resort.

Council will instead encourage evacuees to take up private accommodation where their property is under threat of bushfire, flood or other emergency.

Private accommodation may include with friends, family or in a motel, caravan park or lodge.

Financial support towards private accommodation options will only be offered to those who do not have friends or family to stay with, are experiencing financial hardship, and whose primary residence is in an area that has been evacuated due to the emergency.

Emergency relief will not be provided through a physical building, with relief support instead being accessed through a virtual emergency relief centre with staff available via phone on 1300 137 218.

Residents should make a list of hotel and motel providers in safe areas, and consider that they might be evacuating with pets or other animals.