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 solution has developed between Disaster Relief Australia and the Canberra Relief Network. Small teams of Disaster Relief Australia volunteers are delivering 80 boxes per day to vulnerable members of the community. In the first two weeks, DRA delivered 2225 boxes to 1050 locations across ACT.
Many ACT residents are in isolation after being identified as a close or casual contact of a positive COVID case. As a result, vulnerable 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 cancelation of orders.
Disaster Relief Australia is a veteran led 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, DRA has adapted to deploy multiple small and large scale operations across Australia.
DRA members are skilled over a range of disaster recovery capabilities including chainsawing, debris management, access restoration, aerial damage assessments, fence repairing, sifting and community resilience building. With more than 50% of their volunteer workforce currently in lock-down, DRA identified the need to seek out new pathways to bring help where it’s needed most.
Disaster Relief Australia CEO, Geoff Evans says “As a veteran-led organisation, DRA members stand waiting on the front line ready to answer the call. The COVD pandemic is no exception. This year our volunteers have assisted bushfire affected communities in Eurobodalla and Bega Shires and then flood-affected communities in the Mid North Coast of NSW. Our volunteers have integrated seamlessly within the government initiative ready to deliver hope where it’s needed most.”
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.