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Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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

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

Updated 8 July 2020

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.

Daily wellbeing calls, providing psychological first aid, information and services to vulnerable people across the country in quarantine and self-isolation.

This includes:

  • 71, 386 wellbeing calls to 12,325 Queenslanders in self-isolation
  • 12,648 wellbeing calls to 10,066 recent returnees from overseas in hotel-quarantine in NSW
  • 11,486 wellbeing calls to 2,683 people in quarantine across Tasmania
  • 2,140 wellbeing calls to 241 people in Victoria who are self-isolating
  • 21,078 wellbeing calls to 1,042 South Australians in quarantine and voluntary self-isolation
  • 6,073 wellbeing calls to 1,183 people in the NT who are self-isolating or in quarantine
  • Face to face psychosocial support to 210 people in quarantine on Rottnest Island, WA and psychological first aid phone calls to over 1325 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.

We have launched COVID Connect, a nationwide telephone outreach service where volunteers are making thousands of calls a day to people in self-isolation.

Food and essentials

  • Coordinating and delivering more than 3,500 emergency food and hygiene packages to Victorians who have little to no food.
  • 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 to people on temporary visas who cannot afford to buy basics 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.

Our Victorian response

On 7 July 2020, the Victorian Government announced level 3 restrictions for a period of six weeks for Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire due to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Red Cross is working hard to ensure the humanitarian and emergency needs of Victorians are being met. Volunteers and staff are providing a range of practical responses including; 

  • working with other agencies to distribute food at the public housing estates in mandatory lockdown
  • providing telephone outreach across Victoria (via the Victorian Government COVID Hotline) to anyone who needs practical or emotional support
  • working in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Emergency Management Sector and other Community Service and Migrant Support organisations to support the diverse needs of the most vulnerable in our community who are being impacted by this pandemic
     

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.

Protecting clients, volunteers and staff

We have taken critical steps to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our clients and people. This includes stopping face-to-face contact, providing services by phone and email wherever possible, and working with each service to ensure that people have the support they need.

  • With the recent relaxation of restrictions, First Aid and Mental Health classroom training has restarted and is taking bookings. Enhanced infection control and strict hygiene measures are in place and physical distancing measures are strictly followed.
  • We’re re-opening more of our stores across Australia every day. Safety is our first priority so we’re working hard to keep our shops safe by conducting extra disinfectant cleaning; limiting the number of customers in store at any one time; providing hand sanitiser in all stores; and all staff and volunteers are required to wear gloves

We continue to monitor the outbreak in line with public health advice and will make further changes as needed.

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

Ways to help families stay happy and hopeful during self-isolation

Whatever your living situation we’ve collected tips from the extended Red Cross family to help your family during self-isolation.

The COVID Collective podcast

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

What is a second wave and how your actions can stop one in Australia

This is no time to take off the parachute, stay focused to help stop a second wave of COVID-19

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.