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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 30 November 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.

More than 211,814 wellbeing calls providing psychological first aid, information and services to over 74,196 people across the country in quarantine and self-isolation.

This includes:

  • 127,156 wellbeing calls to 47,994 Queenslanders in self-isolation or hotel quarantine
  • 19,009 wellbeing calls to 13,067 recent returnees from overseas in hotel-quarantine in NSW
  • 25,431 wellbeing calls to 6,807 people in quarantine across Tasmania
  • 3,859 wellbeing calls to 1,610  people in Victoria who are self-isolating 
  • 31,152 wellbeing calls to 2,977 South Australians in quarantine and voluntary 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.

We’ve launched COVID CONNECT, a free service that provides a friendly chat, a listening ear to help maintain or improve social connection to anyone who needs it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Over 200 volunteers from the corporate sector call people daily or weekly and help them to maintain or improve their social connection.  
  • 436 people have registered for this service
  • 2,875 calls have been made

Food and essentials

  • Coordinating and delivering more than 6,028 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, 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.

Our South Australian response

In November, South Australia experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases. In response, our emergency teams have been activated to provide wellbeing calls for those who have been affected. 

Our Victorian response

Since August 2020, Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire have been under various lockdown restrictions due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Cases have since decreased dramatically and restrictions have been eased, but Red Cross is still working hard to ensure the humanitarian and emergency needs of Victorians are being met throughout this time. 

Volunteers and staff continue to provide a range of practical responses including; 

  • Providing 15,718 wellbeing calls to people across Victoria who need practical or emotional support through our Community Activation and Social Initiative program (CASI).
  • 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.

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.