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Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

How we support people to maintain their wellbeing and manage isolation.

Red Cross staff in Cairns delivering relief packages full of food, water and personal care items to people in need.

Updated 06 September 2021

For 106 years, Red Cross has stood with Australians through disasters, emergencies and the other challenges life throws at us.

This is no exception.

We are working with federal and state governments, hundreds of volunteers across the country, and millions across the world to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our focus remains where it always has been: helping those left most vulnerable, and supporting all Australians to maintain their wellbeing and cope with disruption and uncertainty. To date, we have supported more than 65,000 Australians with this response.

Supporting those left more vulnerable

As people enter mandatory self-isolation and quarantine, we’re providing some extra help to those who don’t have the support of an income or a network of family and friends.

More than 272,906 wellbeing calls providing psychological first aid, information and services to over 110,730 people across the country in quarantine and self-isolation.

This includes:

  • 149,686 wellbeing calls to 65,496 Queenslanders in self-isolation or hotel quarantine
  • 16,070 wellbeing calls to 14,010 recent returnees from overseas in hotel-quarantine in NSW
  • 34,157 wellbeing calls to 10,339 people in quarantine across Tasmania
  • 4,373 wellbeing calls to 2,124  people in Victoria who are self-isolating
  • 60,721 wellbeing calls to 17,094 South Australians in quarantine and self-isolation
  • 7,326 wellbeing calls to 1,183 people in the NT 
  • Face to face psychosocial support to 1,348 people in WA and 567 psychological first aid phone calls to over 385 people across the community.
  • our elderly and isolated clients, using Skype and video calls to maintain connection between them and our volunteers who can no longer visit them in person.

Community Activation and Social Initiative program (CASI)

CASI helps people receive practical assistance and emotional support, including enabling social connections and networks in their community. 

Red Cross volunteers provide psychological first aid and link people to community connectors in their local area who can help them access local services and support. 

To date, the number of calls handled through CASI is 19,157 and Red Cross volunteers have delivered more than 9,188 emergency food and hygiene packages to people in isolation.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Shepparton, VIC Red Cross teams worked alongside the Australian Defence Force and Emergency Management Victoria to deliver emergency food relief to thousands of residence in isolation. This service has now ended.

Other essentials

  • Care packages to people waiting for COVID tests in South Australia. From July 22 – 26 18,000 packages were packed and distributed by 107 Red Cross staff and volunteers.
  • Providing hygiene packs and health information to remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
  • Providing food, hygiene items and health information to young people experiencing homelessness.
  • Emergency relief funds, complex case work, food parcels and service referrals to 131,000 people on temporary visas or who have no visas and are facing destitution. 
  • Disseminating daily community health and hygiene information to refugee and asylum seeker communities in 18 different languages.

We have adapted many of our existing services to keep supporting people in need providing over 100,000 calls per month to more than:

  • 1,400 clients at risk of homelessness
  • 600 families who need support
  • 2,300 people who are socially isolated
  • 4,500 people who are elderly and live alone.

Our migration support programs have moved over 1,972 face-to-face interactions per month to phone, online and email support, and over 92,000 people obtained emergency relief support information for migrants in transition and people on temporary visas.  

Our meals services in the ACT and TAS and our soup patrols in WA have also seen more demand. We are providing more than 14,400 packaged meals each month, and taking safety measures to protect clients and volunteers.

Red Cross volunteers and staff in Tennant Creek, Katherine, Galiwink’u and Tiwi Islands are supporting their communities with hygiene messaging on how to stay safe from COVID-19 and practise physical distancing.

Helping all Australians to prepare and manage self-isolation

We are sharing health and safety messages to help ‘flatten the curve’ and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We have created useful resources to help people maintain their wellbeing and manage isolation.

We are ‘spreading kindness’ – encouraging safe and practical ways for people to look after each other and support those who may be more vulnerable at this time.

Supporting the global response

Red Cross and Red Crescent societies worldwide are working to contain the spread of COVID-19 and support those who are affected.

Australian Red Cross is amplifying the efforts of our colleagues as they tackle the pandemic in our region.

We’re supporting Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific countries in their efforts to prepare communities for COVID-19.

We’re supporting efforts to contain the pandemic in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where millions of people live in crowded refugee camps.

Australian Red Cross aid workers are part of this response, supporting pandemic preparedness, emergency operations and emergency health services.

And in the meantime …

Our everyday work continues: from providing financial assistance to people who lost homes in the bushfires, to supporting refugees and their families, and working with people in prison and young people at risk. COVID-19 has made life even harder for many of these people.

What you can do

  • Give blood, if you can. Our friends at Red Cross Lifeblood have taken necessary steps to ensure donor centres are safe.
  • Make a donation. We could really use your help.
  • Share your ways to stay connected. If you have great ideas to beat loneliness during periods of self-isolation, let us know.

Emergencies happen to all of us. We get through them together.

Looking after yourself and others

A pandemic plan for you and those you love

Making a plan will help if you need to isolate at home after a COVID-19 test.

The COVID Collective podcast

A series to help you stay safe, well and socially connected.

Wearing face masks

Why it’s time to cover up.

Right now, we’re expanding and adapting our services to meet the demands of a world responding to COVID-19. More than ever, we need your support to help people stay safe, connected and supported. Please donate if you’re able.