Scaling up efforts to equip more Australians for emergencies
We equipped 230,988 Australians to prepare for and recover from emergencies in the past year.
Our Preparedness Week campaign to encourage people to be prepared for disasters that might impact them reached approximately 8 million Australians through a range of broadcast, print and social media. Reaching people isn’t the problem – motivating them to get prepared continues to prove challenging. It hasn’t and won’t stop us from trying.
Initiatives supporting this work included additional delivery of services focused on preparedness, connecting with other networks to reach more people, broad scale community campaigning and engaging our own Red Cross people more closely in preparedness.
There were 12.6k downloads of the Get Prepared app which we developed with IAG. Further refinements will make it more accessible and implements changes based on user feedback.
Further investment in disaster resilience
Red Cross continues to be an integral member of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities. Through our advocacy efforts, along with others from the Roundtable, we have seen an increase in disaster investment by governments, corporates and others, in excess of $100 million.
We have been influential in shaping the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, through our role on the steering committee. The Framework will guide work in the disaster risk reduction space into the future, and will help us as we advocate for continued increases in investment in disaster risk reduction.
Locally-led humanitarian action
In the past year we successfully began the shift to a new international program operating model, focused on locally-led, inclusive and accountable humanitarian action. Critically, the new model focuses on shifting power and resources to ensure that national Red Cross societies across Asia and the Pacific strengthen their resilience and capacity to prepare for and respond to humanitarian crises.
Between July and December 2018 Indonesia experienced three major disasters which displaced close to 650,000 people and left millions in need of humanitarian assistance. The response was locally led with Australian Red Cross and others supporting Indonesian Red Cross to respond.
Indonesian Red Cross quickly mobilised people on the ground and supported the Indonesian government with logistics, coordinating international support and managing camps. International Red Cross and Red Crescent, including Australian Red Cross were able to compliment the capacity of Indonesian Red Cross, facilitating the launch of an appeal and focusing on support roles and operational coordination.
In total we sent 87 aid workers to 36 countries reaching as far as Lebanon, Nigeria and South Sudan. Sixteen aid workers went to Bangladesh where the refugee crisis has been ongoing for more than two years. We have contributed significantly to supporting people from Rakhine State who have fled Myanmar. As well as aid workers, we provided technical support and guidance particularly in humanitarian diplomacy.
We also contributed to the Philippine Red Cross response to the March 2019 measles outbreak, Iranian Red Crescent response to deadly flash flooding and supported Vanuatu Red Cross when a volcano erupted on Ambae island and 11,000 people needed to be evacuated and rehoused. After Tropical Cyclone Penny hit, we supported Solomon Islands Red Cross, providing health, shelter, and water and sanitation support for 1,250 people in three provinces.
Complementing our response work, our influencing agenda used evidence based research to make an enormous contribution to how the broader humanitarian system needs to change to better meet people’s needs now and in the future.
Responding when disasters hit home
Red Cross emergency teams responded to 51 activations in Australia, including bushfires, floods and cyclones across six states and territories – up from 48 last year – supporting 64,763 people in the process.
In the space of 31 days last August, Australians generously gave $11.5 million to support drought-affected farmers and their families. The appeal may be over, but Red Cross has continued to work with farming communities, delivering drought-specific recovery programs. One of these is Let’s Talk, which brings rural communities together to stay connected and support each other. Let’s Talk has supported events like sheepdog schools, ‘pamper days’, charity bike rides, trade and social media workshops and family fun days.
When a monsoonal low brought heavy rainfall and flooding to North Queensland our trained staff and volunteers played an important role in the coordination and management of evacuation centres and recovery hubs, assisting 48,602 people. Red Cross also provided telephone outreach in partnership with the Queensland Government through more than 10,000 telephone calls to affected people. In all, 431 personnel were deployed during 65 days of activation.
Tropical Cyclone Trevor led to the largest mass evacuation in the Northern Territory since Cyclone Tracy in 1974, with approximately 2,500 people evacuated from the Groote Eylandt and Borroloola areas. In partnership with NT Government, Red Cross managed three evacuation centres in Darwin and Katherine, which remained open for nine days. Over 2,340 people were assisted by 119 Red Cross staff and volunteers.
In the course of the year we also trained 3,282 people from external agencies in the humanitarian aspects of preparedness, response and recovery.
The past year also saw the successful launch of our Collective Trauma Guidelines. The guidelines support governments, organisations and communities responding to particularly high profile tragedies that impact large numbers of people, including those not directly impacted, such as the attacks on mosques in Christchurch and the murder of young Melbourne woman Courtney Herron.