Older People

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.

A targeted review of the impacts of older people was undertaken in 2015-2016.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 a copy of the full report of the research findings is available here and a copy of the 4 page policy brief is available here.

While this specific research component has been completed, there is a need for an ongoing focus on older people, so this stream has been merged into the continuing activities of the Community Wellbeing stream.


Carroll, M., & Walker, J. (2017). Beyond vulnerability: Older people as active participants in disaster responses. Presented at the Perth, Australia. Paper presented at the 50th Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) Conference, Perth, Australia. Available in https://www.aag.asn.au/documents/item/2003 on page 37.

Walker, J., & Carroll, M. (2017, 22-23 May 2017). Communications in future disaster events: best practice policy for older people [abstract]. Paper presented at the Australia and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, Gold Coast, Qld, Australia.

Walker, J. (2017) The impact of the Hazelwood mine fire in Australia on older people: review of policy-driven decisions made at the time [abstract]. Paper presented at the Aging and Society : Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference, Berkeley, USA.  3-5 November 2017.

2017 – Communications in future disaster events – best policy practice for older people
Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference
Presented by Professor Judi Walker and co-authored by Dr Matthew Carroll.