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Emergency relief

Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are a diverse and extremely vulnerable group.

Many people have experienced torture and trauma, speak little or no English, live with fear and uncertainty about the future and may not have the support of family or the community in Australia.

Many people are at risk of poverty, malnutrition and social isolation.

Emergency Relief Program

Red Cross provides one-off financial or material assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who are suffering financial hardship and are not eligible for other support.

Funded solely by public donations and private grants to Red Cross, the program works in collaboration with other community services, including government funded programs.

The Emergency Relief program started in 2002 to support people frequently at risk of poverty, malnutrition and social isolation.

Since this vital program started, Red Cross staff and volunteers have helped more than 4500 people across Australia.

Support where it's needed most

Emergency Relief programs adapt to the urgent needs identified in each state and territory to deliver support to the people who need it most.

In addition to financial assistance for people in financial distress, support may include:

  • food packages to individuals and families who would otherwise go hungry in WA
  • donated household setup goods for a family in need or a refurbished bicycle to help an asylum seeker to be independent, self reliant and healthy in VIC
  • cooking classes and gardening workshops to help with budgeting and healthy eating in SA
  • transport vouchers to access English classes to help engage people in their communities in NT
  • engaging dentists to donate their time to ensure dental health or provide donated winter clothing, blankets and toys to children and families in NSW
  • a hiking excursion or a women's knitting group to ensure well-being during the wait for an outcome for a visa application in ACT and Tasmania


The Emergency Relief program does not provide ongoing or long-term financial support or care.

Learn more about Red Cross work with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants and how you can volunteer.

To find out if Red Cross can help you, contact a Red Cross caseworker through your State or Territory Red Cross office.

Red Cross relies on committed donors. You can support Red Cross everyday work like the Emergency Relief program by making a donation online or calling 1800 811 700.


Photo: Australian Red Cross/Rodney Dekker

Wheel power

Wheel power

Khaled came to Australia as an asylum seeker from Iran. Now he volunteers with Red Cross to help other asylum seekers with the Emergency Relief bicycle program. Read more »

Vulnerability Report


The Vulnerability Report provides rare insights into the day-to-day realities of people seeking asylum. Read the report »

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