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Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Red Cross emergency services volunteers in Victoria delivering relief packages full of food, water and personal care items to people who are isolating with no network to support them. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Alex Hahn.

Updated 12 May 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, thousands 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 25,000 Australians with this response.

Supporting those left more vulnerable

As more and more people enter mandatory self-isolation, 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:

  • over 40,680 Queenslanders in self-isolation
  • over 5,360 recent returnees from overseas in hotel-quarantine in NSW
  • over 1,700 people in quarantine across Tasmania
  • over 800 people in Victoria who are self-isolating, including families from bushfire-affected communities
  • over 800 South Australians in quarantine and voluntary self-isolation
  • 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
  • Over 120 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

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 2,760 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 are moving over 1,972 face-to-face interactions per month to phone, online and email support.

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 messaging to prepare for 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.

Protecting clients, volunteers and staff

We are taking 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.

  • We’ve closed our Red Cross Shops, face-to-face First Aid training courses, mobility aid hire in Queensland as well as the Commix Café in Brisbane’s CBD.
  • We have stopped all group-based member run activities, such as tea rooms and homework clubs, until restrictions on public gatherings are lifted.

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. You might not see us knock on your door this month, but 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.

Isolation inspiration from some of Australia’s best young sportspeople

Be motived to stay the course by the Matildas and their off-field performance during 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.