Newsletter September 2021

Disaster Relief Australia | October 2021

I’m constantly amazed by the fortitude and resilience of our members. An enduring seemingly never-ending situation reduced our ability to get out on the field in mass numbers but we’ve adapted and found new pathways to serve our communities. We will arrive at the other side stronger and bonded together through grit, determination and respect.

A special mention of Thomas Howell (Howey) who is handing over the role of NDFO to Mark Reilly (Pacey). Under his guidance, we undertook more operations in 18 months than the 3 years prior. He bore the weight of command humbly and pushed us to ‘do better’. I want to acknowledge his work and the responsibility he carried during the most intense operational period in our history as well as the impressive overall development of our operational capability that has occurred under his leadership.

I would also like to touch on the overwhelming feedback I received regarding the check-in call initiative. I commend the wonderful individuals who made the calls and hope you can understand the positive impact you have made.

With our 5 year anniversary upon us, I’m taking time to reflect on where we started and how far we’ve grown, standing upon the shoulders of all before us. I look forward to seeing you all on the 28th of October, 2021 for the DRA 5th Anniversary Awards night. Before you know it, we’ll be ten. I hope you can join me.
– Geoff Evans, Chief Executive Officer

Member Shop is now open

The long-awaited members merchandise shop is now open! We can’t wait for you to kit yourselves out with high quality DRA branded gear. 5.11 Tactical have partnered with us to offer you clothing and accessories truly built to serve. Each piece has been carefully selected and road tested to ensure innovative features, toughness and durability. All at 20% off the RRP!

The important stuff before you shop. We want you to be satisfied and proud of your purchases. We’ve tried to think of everything, but being a new venture, we expect there to be the occasional teething issue. Please log any issues through the contact page.

  1. All active Muster members have an account on the new member’s website.
  2. How to login details are on the FAQ’s page, we are using your Muster email as the username.
  3. If you buy something with the DRA logo, it can’t be returned (unless defective) so please check the sizing very carefully. We’ve chosen to leave the pants unbranded as this is the most commonly returned item.
  4. All sizing is in US. Check the sizing dimensions carefully. It’s a good idea to measure something that fits you well and then compare it to the size charts.
  5. If you buy something with the DRA brand but want to swap it with another member, we’ve started a closed Facebook group.
  6. All the details about returns, sizing and the Facebook group are on the new member website under FAQ’s.

We look forward to expanding the range further. Keep a lookout for member offers and rewards for your service!

Awards Night

The 2021 DRA Awards night marks an important milestone. This year we celebrate and reflect on 5 years of service to the community and each other. It’s a chance to come together and salute the efforts of members past and present and appreciate how far we have come.  

We’re planning a sensational event. Where possible, DRT’s will meet up in person. To help us plan a wonderful night, please indicate your availability. Lookout for further announcements from your DRT on your local event.  

Nominate DRA Awards

It’s time to nominate your fellow DRA team member for a DRA Award. You can nominate in the following three categories:

  1. Mateship Award – looks out for their fellow teammates first
  2. True Grit Award – brings order to chaos with a fierce blend of determination, flexibility and grit
  3. Leadership Award – displaying outstanding leadership skills

Other awards announced on the night

DRT SA Champion Award
DRT QLD SOUTH Champion Award
DRT ACT Champion Award
DRT VIC/TAS Champion Award
DRT NSW Champion Award
DRT QLD NORTH/NT Champion Award

CEO Award – CEO’s member of the year

Nominations close Sunday 10 October, 5.00pm AEST. Nominations will cover the period 2020-2021.  Members must be current members in Muster.

Go forth and nominate!

DRT Patch Competition

As part of the DRA annual member awards night on Thursday 28 October, we will celebrate 5 amazing years assisting communities across Australia and overseas. To commemorate how far we have come over the past 5 years, and to acknowledge each of our amazing DRTs, we are launching a ‘Design Your DRT Patch’ competition.

Be creative and design a patch that really defines who your DRT Tribe is!

See below for the specifications as a couple of common design items will need to be incorporated, design away and submit your patch design with a short descriptor as to how it embodies your DRT by COB on Thursday 21 October.

Patch specifications: 7cm (70mm) wide x 5cm (50mm) high
Required: DRA icon & DRT name (see example)

The winning designs will be shared at our awards/anniversary celebrations the following week. Submit your patch design to the team with the subject header DRT Patch Design.

Step Challenge

Veterans Week ‘Get Moving’ 16th-24th October 2021

As we head into Spring and the weather begins to change, we’ve decided it’s time for some healthy competition. To celebrate Veteran Health Week, DRA members are going head-to-head in a ‘Get Moving’ Step Challenge. This friendly (yet competitive) challenge allows for those both in and out of lockdown to play their part in showing support for veterans in a fun, energetic and positive way.

Feel free to send in photos or videos of your progress as you go so we can share the good spirit and importance of the cause. So put on those running shoes, whack on your DRA t-shirt and show us what you’ve got. Let the competition begin!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Participating is easy, everyone can join in and have some fun. All you need is a tracker of some sort: Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin, Google Fit and Strava. We will use as our platform to track progress on a leaderboard. All DRA members are eligible to participate.

Each DRT member will compete for their DRT as well as individually. At the end of the week, the total weekly number of steps will be calculated for each DRT. The DRT with the most recorded number of steps wins the challenge. Look out for more info coming soon on how to join!

Quiz Off 7th October

Get ready to assert your trivia prowess at our inaugural Quiz Off. The topic is “the 90’s” and we’re looking to salute the best and good naturedly mock the rest. All you need is a computer, a beverage of your choice and 60 hours prior research on Wikipedia. All members are invited! Its capped at 300 so get your EOI in quickly.

September Spirit Award Winner Sean Gorman

Sean demonstrates the best in all of us with his passion and integrity in all of his services to DRA and the communities we support. He’s a real hard charger and a good all-around mate with a heart of gold. He exemplifies this in his service. 

Sean has been integrally involved with the 42 for 42 memorial project. He has turned up every weekend for the past 3 months and is on some weekends the only DRA member. From his leadership, he has encouraged close to 60 DRA members to help. 

Sean is a terrific bloke who is always active within the DRT. He has an easy and fun way about him which makes him very well liked. He is quick with a laugh and a joke but as anyone who has seen him work, especially at the 42 for 42 memorial project, he knows when to roll up his sleeves to work. He is a machine. I wish I had 10 more Sean Gorman’s; this award is a fantastic way to recognise his contribution. 

– Aaron O’Toole QLD South DRT 


Training Metrics this FY so far: 

  • DRA Members course participants – 256
  • Courses run – 27 

I want to draw attention to the incredible work of the National and DRT Training teams, even with COVID lockdowns causing more than 10 courses to be cancelled, and three DRT’s being unable to engage in face-to-face training of any kind, they have adapted and still had 256 members involved in training via 27 courses in the last 3 months.

Many of these courses were online and supported other novel capability developments like the “Member Check Ins” team training, and thus were able to be completed around member’s busy schedules in all DRT’s, ultimately for the benefit of others, now and into the future.

As many of you may be aware from some hiccups in the development process in our Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) platform is underway and making progress. The development stage has now overcome many challenges. We will soon be ready for hosting our e-Learning courses, of which there is an interesting development.

PRO Course

The PRO course is now ready for members with previous experience as PRO’s to complete the pilot course (eLearning package). We greatly appreciate participants relaying their experiences by providing feedback on the course as to how they feel it addresses the skills they needed in performing the PRO role. Once that is captured and the course has the last refinements finished, we will begin running courses on a regular schedule and compete the face-to-face module to consolidate the skills of the eLearning package.  


Further Learning

For those of you (especially those in lockdowns) there are a number of learning resources that have been curated that have either direct or partial applicability to DRA engagement activities. These learning resources cover many areas, they are free (nil cost), of varying length and widely varying subject matter from providers such as Resilience NSW and DisasterReady.  

I will only add two examples here which are for the logistically minded and/or member of DRT Logistics or National Logistics (or want to be).  If you are interested in a more extensive list of learning resources  please send an email to for a list of other courses.  

Procurement and Logistics Certificate

Introduction to Fleet Management 


To engage with these and many more courses, create a profile at disasterready and the world is at your finger tips. Keep an eye out for all other course opportunities in the usual spots.  

As a last point, the training team is growing and gaining momentum and looking for new team members to get involved. If you have skills in eLearning development, administration, soft skills or RTO based training or want to learn how the training team supports DRA with a view to contributing reach out via the DRT EOI.
– Warwick Lugton, National Training Manager



With COVID impacting our ability to deploy teams into the field, our ADAT have been busy conducting remote GIS analysis for our Secondary Assessment Project.  This project has been brought about through funding from Minderoo Foundation and aims to create a snapshot of the current recovery progress of the most heavily impacted communities from the 2019/2020 Black Summer Fires.  Imagery gaps are being identified as analysts work through the data, in preparation for deploying drone teams into the field once it is safe to do so. 

Our ADAT members have also been heavily involved in the initial phase of Project Resilience – Alice River.  Drone mapping has been completed to the west of Townville in North Queensland and GIS analysis is currently underway.   

From a training perspective, online training for pilot inductions and GIS analysis is being rolled out to grow DRA’s ADAT capability whilst border restrictions remain in place. 

Our Aerial Damage Assessment Team is always looking to engage new members, so if anyone is interested in getting involved, please check the Careers page or contact our National Aerial Damage Assessment Team Manager.
– Brent Hoade, National Aerial Damage Assessment Team Manager

Disaster Relief Teams

DRA continues to be challenged by border and movement restrictions affecting the conduct of activities across Australia. Nonetheless, our Disaster Relief Teams (DRTs) continue to do their best to assist their communities and support one another through these difficult times.   

Ensuring focus on members’ wellbeing, DRA has raised a dedicated Call-Out Team, doing some excellent work reaching out to our members to ensure their welfare. Backed by training from Phoenix Australia and supported by membership, welfare, training and medical teams, calls have focused first on NSW and Victoria, expanding across other states soon.   

As you are aware, the DRT structure recently adopted a new naming structure, based on states. While we may be restricted in our ability to cross borders right now, DRA remains committed to running service projects within borders.   

DRT ACT for example, has been doing an outstanding job delivering food packages to families at need across Canberra. Our teams continue to plan and organise, while considering means to adapt to this emerging landscape.   

Strong progress is being made on establishing DRT NT up in the top end, under guidance of our launch manager, Ben Watson. Ben comes from an interesting background with both the Police (NT & Tasmania), and the Australian Army. We’re really looking forward to seeing the DRT up and moving before the end of this year, excited to see new members, ideas and projects coming online.   

Otherwise, we have some really exciting background developments under advanced planning and opportunities continue to grow across our DRTS.  Please keep your chin up, look after each other and continue to look toward a bright future!
 – Sam Reed, National Director – Disaster Relief Teams


Since DRA first kicked off, our teams have deployed on 19 domestic operations and been involved in 14 international operations. Pretty awesome for a not-quite-five-year-old organisation. Here’s the breakdown:

Operations – 642 individual DRA members have deployed on Operations 1593 times, for a total of 11,958 days in the field

Service Projects – 325 individual DRA members have deployed on SP’s 633 times, for a total of 1,545 days in the field

Collectively our members have served 13,503 days of field work to help people and communities repair and recover after disaster strikes. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent to one person serving for nearly 37 years (without holidays). The power of team work is illustrated right there. What we do in the field collectively makes such an impact on those we assist. You giving up your time to work on a Service Project or an Operation, may not seem much individually, but as a team, that is a massive contribution.

The mobilisation team is proud to do their bit in the huge machine getting our teams on the ground. We have some new faces joining us to expand our capability in the DRT Mobilisation Crews as we lean forward into the next 6-12 months.

Welcome to:

  • Mandy Ferreira in NQLD DRT joining Jules Marshall and Karen ‘Piggy’ Piggott
  • David Moon in SQLD DRT joining Mick Richards and Mark Hipworth
  • Danie Anderson in WA DRT joining Alex Drew
  • Madi Fox in TAS/VIC DRT joining Tania Keeble and Vaughan Edgar

We have places left across most of the DRT’s and are recruiting for associates to join the ever-growing team of mobilisation leaders around Australia. If you are keen to throw your hat in the ring to help us keep boots on the ground, please go to the website or contact us at
– Leasa Stephen, National Mobilisation Manager


DRA welcomes our new State Safety Coordinators and Associates. These members have joined the National Safety Team and will provide direct support to their local DRT as well as supporting the broader efforts in developing and updating DRA’s Safety Management System. Collectively they bring very significant expertise and experience from industry and the commercial world. They will become your local go-to person and should be involved in the planning and conduct of all activities.

Qld Nth  Jason O’Brien  Safety Coordinator 
  Gerad Corkhill  Safety Associate 
Qld Sth  Brett Velthhuizen-Weston  Safety Coordinator 
  James Zacharioudakis  Safety Associate 
NSW  Marcus Punch  Safety Coordinator 
ACT  Glenn Nelson  Safety Coordinator 
VIC  Graeme Crouch  Safety Coordinator 
WA  Dixon Lowe  Safety Coordinator 

There are still vacancies for a Coordinator in SA as well as associates in all locations except Qld. So, if you have some time and the passion to lead our safety program forward, please submit an EOI.

The safety team continues to develop DRA’s Safety Management System as well as supporting the planning and conduct of our projects and operations. We have commenced a review of our safe work methods statements and other safety tools to consider member’s feedback as well as advances in the wider community. As we did last year, these will be circulated for consultation before they are finally approved for use. If you have an idea or comment on safety-related matters please get in touch using

National Safe Work Month in October is a time to commit to a safe and healthy workplace. Disaster Relief Australia supports Safe Work Australia’s think safe. work safe. be safe. campaign.

“At DRA, we believe that our people are our most valued asset. Their health and safety is our top priority.  National Safe Work Month in October is an important event each year for DRA. It is a great mechanism for raising awareness about important work health and safety issues and helps us highlight, understand and investigate potential WHS issues in our own workplace. I encourage all members to remember our safety responsibilities to each other and to be mindful we may be working in hazardous environments where considered application of our skills and experience will help ensure the safety of workplaces.” – Geoff Evans, CEO

During the last couple of years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces have been presented with complex and dynamic challenges and have had to change the way they conduct their business and, in turn, manage work health and safety. DRA is no exception.

This year’s National Safe Work Month campaign highlights a range of work health and safety topics, including COVID-19, occupational lung disease, sexual harassment, mental health, and working in extreme weather. National Safe Work Month also serves as a reminder for workplaces to continue the development and review of their work health and safety policies and processes.

The think safe. work safe. be safe. campaign is led by Safe Work Australia and is supported by Safe Work Australia Members and other stakeholders, including Disaster Relief Australia. For more information about National Safe Work Month, or to download resources, go to the campaign website:
– Tony Griffiths, National Safety Manager