Disaster Legal Help Victoria is encouraging Victorians bracing for a summer of wild weather to complete a simple legal checklist as part of their disaster readiness plans.
Meteorologists are forecasting a wet and windy holiday season due to La Niña conditions, with more floods and cyclones expected, highlighting the importance of preparing for emergencies.
Disaster Legal Help Victoria has put together a five-point legal checklist for Victorians to include in their preparations.
‘Our experience over more than a decade shows that when disasters strike, some legal issues may crop up incredibly quickly, while others may not surface until months after the event.’Rowan McRae, spokesperson for Disaster Legal Help Victoria and also Executive Director, Civil Justice, Access and Equity at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA).
‘Ticking off this checklist will boost your disaster resilience and put you in the best possible position to tackle any legal concerns that arise following a disaster, whenever they might occur.’
These are the five steps for being legally prepared this summer:
- Make sure your insurance is up-to-date and covers you for things like fire, storms and floods and that you are fully insured for the complete value of your property
- Create an inventory list (and take photos if you can) of your home or business premises and other assets, including their value and condition
- Get your important documents together, such as wills, titles, rental contracts, insurance documents, Centrelink or Medicare paperwork
- Keep your documents safe, perhaps in a fireproof safe at home, a safety deposit box or have electronic copies
- Keep a list of emergency contacts handy, including Disaster Legal Help Victoria on .
Formed in response to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, Disaster Legal Help Victoria provides free information to those in need and directs them to local legal and financial support on the ground, wherever they may be.
Hundreds of Victorians have accessed the service over the past decade.
Rowan said the some of the most common legal issues include problems with insurance claims, disputes over fences and leases, lost and destroyed documents as well as debt and other financial problems stemming from the loss of casual employment, and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.
Disasters can also exacerbate or disrupt other issues or processes involving family violence, parenting arrangements or ongoing court proceedings. ‘Whatever your question – whether it’s about insurance coverage or broken fences or Centrelink payments – our job is to support you and get you the information and advice you need,’ Rowan said.
‘If you have a legal problem or are unsure about your next steps, please contact the Disaster Legal Help Victoria phoneline or chat with us online and we can help you understand your options.’
‘If you know your local community legal centre, you can also speak with them directly.’
‘Our website is a good first port of call, with clear and straightforward information about a range of issues, including how to deal with damage to a rental property and your options at work if you need to take time off.’
Reviewed 29 April 2022