With ACT in lockdown until at least October 15th, the need to distribute food and hygiene boxes to ACT residents in isolation is critical. In response, an innovative ACT Food Drop solution has developed between Disaster Relief Australia and Volunteering ACT. Small teams of Disaster Relief Australia volunteers are delivering 80 boxes per day to vulnerable members of the community. The first 9 days saw 800 boxes delivered to over 600 houses.
ACT residents in need
Many ACT residents are in isolation as a result of being identified as a close or casual contact of a positive COVID case. As a result, many members of the community are unable to shop for groceries. This is further impacted with reports of traditional “click and collect” services getting overwhelmed resulting in significant delays and cancellation of orders.
Disaster Relief Australia is a volunteer workforce able to rapidly deploy disaster relief teams in the wake of natural disasters. Despite the many challenges of operating in a COVID-19 environment, during the first six months of 2021, DRA has deployed multiple large-scale operations across Australia.
DRA members are skilled over a range of disaster recovery capabilities such as chainsawing, debris management, access restoration, aerial damage assessments, fence repairing, sifting and community resilience building.
ACT based DRA volunteers step up
With more than 50% of their volunteer workforce in lock-down, DRA is now forced to seek out new pathways to bring help where it’s needed most.
ACT DRT (Disaster Relief Team) Manager, Michael Young says “I am proud of our ACT-based volunteer workforce who didn’t hesitate a moment in offering their time to ACT residents in lockdown. This year they have assisted bushfire affected communities in Eurobodalla and Bega Shires and then flood-affected communities in the Mid North Coast of NSW. COVID has greatly affected our ability to help where it’s needed most. This initiative has come from an organisiation wide desire to be innovative about where and how we deploy our volunteers.”
The logistics behind the COVID-safe operation have been well considered. ACT Government’s Community Services Directorate have established a warehouse at Exhibition Park (Canberra showground), where DRA loadS up each morning before starting the food drops.
Each day is carefully planned, with routes for each vehicle carefully optimised in planning software to ensure the drops are as efficient as possible. The plans are uploaded to Google maps, giving each vehicle a map with waypoints for each drop, making it simple and easy to follow. All deliveries are contactless and in accordance with strict COVID guidelines.