Far North Queenslanders with complex communication needs will be able to access a new cyclone guide in the New Year, Disability Services Minister and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said today.

Mr Pitt said local residents can pick up a copy of the easy-to-follow guide from a number of outlets from 3 January 2012.

He said the guide has been developed by Cairns Regional Council with funding from Queensland and the Commonwealth’s $20 million Community Development and Recovery Package.

“This simple new guide contains important information for people with disabilities and complex communication needs on how to prepare for cyclones and natural disasters,” he said.

“It’s more relevant than ever as we enter the cyclone season, especially given that we’ve already seen a cyclone develop off the Queensland coast this month.

“The guide contains practical tips targeting people who use symbols and simple language as their preferred method of communicating.

“It’s written in easy-to-understand language and contains clear and simple illustrations outlining the steps people should take in the event of a cyclone or other natural disaster.

“The guide isn’t designed to be just given to someone – it should be discussed, interpreted and reinforced by a communication partner or parent.”

Mr Pitt said all residents should gave a disaster plan for their own home.

“People should buy food and batteries in case power goes out and the shops are closed, and ensure that their pets are safe and that they have enough food and water,” he said.

“Residents should also prepare first aid kids and listen to the radio and emergency services and do what they ask us to do.

“Cyclone Yasi showed us just how destructive Mother Nature can be, so it’s essential that all members of the community are prepared for the worst.”

The guide is available online at http://www.arcinc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Cyclone-Guide-2011.pdf or pick up a hard copy from ARC Disability Services on Little Street or from Council’s Customer Service Centres in Cairns and Mossman after 3 January 2012.