Operation Woods was Disaster Relief Australia’s (DRA) first major operation in Western Australia, incorporating the launch of our Perth Disaster Relief Team. DRA collaboration with the Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative, partnering to rapidly deploy volunteers into the region to help with recovery efforts for the Perth Hills Bushfire.
Disaster Relief Australia launched has launched its 9th Disaster Relief Team (DRT) in Tasmania. With a DRT in every state and territory across Australia, DRA is truly now built to serve. The newly formed DRT launches with 42 volunteers ready to serve their local communities and support national operations, such as those currently underway in the flood-affected regions of NSW and Queensland. DRT Manager Kylie Baumback will lead the Tasmanian team and is keen to engage with the Tasmanian community and showcase the nationally accredited and advanced training opportunities that are available for all volunteers. This includes preparedness operations such as aerial mapping exercises and big-map community planning operations, in addition to disaster response skills such as drone operations, plant equipment, logistics, chainsaw, incident management team skills and more. “The geographical location of Tasmania means it can take time to attract and move resources from across Australia to respond to a natural disaster. We must, therefore, build and maintain a level of preparedness that enables the state to commence recovery operations as soon as possible utilising the amazing pool of local talent and collective knowledge of people who are fundamentally driven to the service of those in need.” Special thanks to Pete and the team at the Launceston RSL for hosting us for the event and the Lions Club of Kings Meadows for cooking our bbq lunch.
On 19th April, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, announced that if elected his government would provide Disaster Relief Australia with funding over three years to support DRA’s National Veteran Volunteer Service (NVVS). The Liberal/National Coalition announced via the offices of Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie Minister for Regionalisation and Emergency Management and The Hon. Andrew Gee MP, Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans’ Affairs that they will also support the work of DRA and the principles that underpin the NVVS, pledging the same amount of $38.1 million in funds over the next three years. Thank you to both major parties for their recognition and support of Disaster Relief Australia and the National Veteran Volunteer Service initiative. It shows great leadership and vision for the future in support of veterans and the wider Australian community in times of need. What is the NVVS? Every year, Australian communities face devastating losses caused by disasters. Bushfires, floods, storms, and other hazards and their associated consequences have significant impacts on communities, the economy, infrastructure and the environment. The recovery space is quite devoid of assets at the moment with boots on the ground, and there are just so many veterans out there with the military skills required to assist. DRA has been working nationally with the ADF and government for the past five years, and over the last year has campaigned for the establishment of a National Veteran Volunteer Service. Building DRA’s NVVS, which is what the proposed funding will support, is an innovative, proven and highly effective approach to enabling veteran wellness and ability. Veterans have been trained with unique skills and have experiences that can be harnessed to assist disaster affected communities. This initiative will also give us the ability to further integrate with emergency responders and formalise a system for national disaster response based on shared knowledge. How will the funding be used? The pledged funding recognises that a national, coordinated and cooperative effort is needed to enhance Australia’s capacity to withstand and recover from emergencies and disasters. It will provide the level of funding required for DRA to grow, through targeted volunteer recruitment and training to a point where we have the right number of volunteers ready to continue to support communities impacted by disasters. It will also provide veterans with a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth, while also creating a sustainable and fit-for-purpose model of continued service as a much-needed national asset in disaster resilience and recovery.