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Volunteering in an emergency

There’s a lot you can do to help. But start early.

Volunteers need many hours of training and certification before they can be sent to emergency responses

Photo: Australian Red Cross/Mathew Lynn

One of the great things about Australia is that everyone pitches in when a disaster strikes.

Volunteers give countless hours, and response agencies are inundated with offers of help, many of which they have no chance to act on.

So here are our three tips if you want to volunteer:

  1. Sign up months before you expect to volunteer for a live emergency.
  2. Think about all the different skills you have to offer, and look for roles that match.
  3. There’s lots you can do to help without becoming a formal volunteer.

Sign up early

No reputable emergency agency would send untrained volunteers to a disaster response. The risks are simply too great.

Training for emergency volunteers covers health and safety, working with vulnerable people, child protection, emergency procedures and a range of specific skills. It can take months before a volunteer is ready for their first deployment.

Please know that we can’t send you into the field without this training, regardless of how much experience you may have had. 

We usually advertise emergency team roles well before ‘disaster season’. Search them here.

For emergencies overseas:
Everything above goes double for emergencies overseas. In an emergency, the people we send overseas require extensive experience in their field, together with previous international experience, and training in how our emergency operations work.

A good way to build up your overseas experience is to volunteer with an organisation such as AVI, where you can spent a few months to a year with a community organisation in countries. 

What skills do you have?

It’s not all about fighting fires or providing first aid. Emergency agencies also need people who can do administrative tasks, respond to queries on social media, create maps, write reports and proposals, process donations or make phone calls.

We always recommend that you apply early, so you have time to be trained and ready to volunteer when an emergency happens. And if you do apply during an emergency, please understand if we don’t get back right away – we’re probably swamped.

Volunteer with us

Find a role that’s right for you

What can you do during an emergency?

Use your creativity to raise funds
Organise a fundraising event in your community. We’ve got lots of tips.

Share information
Use your social media profiles to amplify information from emergency agencies. This could be disaster warnings, available services, and how people can help.

Fight misinformation
It’s easy for misinformation to spread – and that can be dangerous for people in an emergency situation. If it’s safe to do so, provide reliable, factual information to counter any false information you see online. 

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