Our story


Our story

Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) launched in 2016 and responded to our first relief operation after the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in April 2017. This operation, named Operation Dunlop after WWII Surgeon Sir Ernest Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, saw DRA deployed to Proserpine in Far North Queensland. Over three weeks, 62 volunteers worked tirelessly to help the greater Proserpine community recover from the disaster. Just as importantly, we proved that the skills and experience of military veterans were ideally suited to this type of work.

About DRA

Our journey

The journey to Proserpine started in 2013, when a model of disaster relief using veterans was tested in the United States. The model was imported to the Australian backdrop and subsequently, a commitment was made. This now is our Mission Statement:
To unite the skills and experience of military veterans with emergency services specialists to deploy disaster relief teams in Australia and around the world in the wake of disasters.

Disaster Relief Australia was born of this commitment and is a fully independent Australian-Registered Charity.

Since 2016, we have grown from the fledgling efforts of two stubborn veterans to a nationwide movement. With more than 2,500 members who are the core of our dedicated volunteer base and 10 fully operational Disaster Relief Teams (DRTs) across Australia, DRA represents a significant capability.

We have proven that capability helping thousands of disaster survivors on 43 relief operations throughout Australia, and internationally in the United States, Greece, British Virgin Islands, Indonesia and Philippines.

In the spirit of WWI veterans returning to build the Great Ocean Road, DRA has reinvented the idea that veterans are some of most highly trained civic assets with skills and experience to be harnessed. They are anything but victims – they are Built to Serve.


Disasters are our business

DRA unites the skills and experiences of Australian Defence Force veterans, emergency responders and motivated civilians to deploy Disaster Relief Teams domestically and around the globe. Proud to maintain a roster of thousands of volunteers, DRA can deploy throughout Australia and the Pacific Rim and integrate into existing emergency management arrangements where viable.

DRA can operate independently or as part of an integrated task force offering a range of capabilities and services, including:

• Work order management
• Spontaneous volunteer management
• Incident management
• Damage and impact assessments
• Debris management and restoring access
• Home repairs
• Route clearance and property access
• Medical and health support to vulnerable communities
• Aerial damage assessment and mapping
• Resilience and capacity building
• Logistics management and humanitarian aid delivery

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