Prior to this reporting period
The bushfire season started early, in September 2019. We acknowledge the terrible events and incredible efforts of our teams throughout the year.
In September, fires had significant impact on communities in New South Wales and Queensland. Fires continued to burn in both states, and by November, South Australia experienced its first major fire of the season, while a sleeper fire escalated in East Gippsland in Victoria. In December, fires continued to burn down much of the eastern seaboard, as well as major fires in South Australia and Western Australia. By the end of December, active bushfires were burning in five states.
Bushfire response in 2020
Critical aspects of our response
Central and state-level coordination
Red Cross’ National Coordination Centre worked with state-based incident management teams to deploy personnel based on needs in the field. These included GIS mapping officers, field psychologists and other vital support roles.
Coordinating well with federal, state and local authorities to meet humanitarian needs
In Victoria, Red Cross teams accompanied the Australian Defence Force as they evacuated people from Mallacoota and returned them home. Our Register.Find.Reunite (RFR) service became a point of truth to learn the whereabouts of people who fled the fires and follow up with them.
In South Australia, we collaborated with SA Housing Authority, Disaster Recovery Ministries and community stakeholders to support people at relief and recovery centres, provide psychological first aid, provide the RFR service and offer training to local government and community staff.
In New South Wales, our volunteers worked with government agencies on community outreach and recovery, for the fires that continued to burn during the period as well as those from months before.
Trained volunteers living locally in Gippsland
When communities in Gippsland were completely cut off by fire, Red Cross volunteers living in those communities immediately mobilised to help. They provided psychological first aid, organised food from local venues for people who had to leave their homes, and informed external relief efforts.
Walking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
First Nations communities endured deep and unique losses from the fires – including sacred places, totems and songlines. They also face greater challenges accessing relief and recovery assistance. We have been coordinating with many communities as an integral part of our response and continue to walk with and learn from them on their journey of recovery.