Disaster Relief Australia prepares Australian communities for disaster
The expectation that disasters will become both more frequent and more intense represents a significant challenge to the nation.
Community driven plans designed to reduce exposure to hazards, lessen the vulnerability of people and property and improve preparedness for adverse events have proven to help communities become more resilient to natural disasters.
Disaster Relief Australia seeks to address a significant disconnect between the desire to have community led approaches to disaster resilience and the provision of simple, actionable information and the manpower to deliver them.
Project Resilience is Disaster Relief Australia’s contribution to the Minderoo Foundation’s broader Resilient Communities initiative. Resilient Communities aims to lift Australia’s 50 most vulnerable communities to be on par with Australia’s most resilient communities by 2025.
Benefits of a strong community resilience plan
Social & infrastructure
Prioritise the social and infrastructure assets that are most important, including understanding and managing the local natural environment.
Mitigate the impact of emergencies and disasters and enable more rapid recovery.
Foster community connection to improve social and mental health outcomes and community cohesion in times of need.
Take ‘ownership’ of the community resilience plan.
Supporting local communities
DRA operates seven Disaster Relief Teams (DRTs):
- DRT Queensland North
- DRT Queensland South
- DRT New South Wales
- DRT Australian Capital Territory
- DRT Victoria
- DRT South Australia
- DRT Western Australia
Each DRT has the capability to conduct disaster relief and community support operations with scaled capacity dependent on the skills and deployment readiness of volunteers as well as the location, size and complexity of the disaster.
Under Project Resilience, each DRT will adopt a community and work through a nationally led program to help that community build its resilience to natural disasters.
Raising community resilience
Project Resilience aims to help communities understand how they can be more prepared for disasters through cost-effective efforts like improved warnings, community engagement, training, volunteering and the prioritisation of protection of assets and community led planning.
‘Disaster Wise’ assessment
Disaster Relief Australia is a lead agency for the provision of localised pre and post disaster aerial imagery and mapping data.
In the first phase of the project Aerial Damage Assessment Teams (ADAT) deploy to map infrastructure, community assets and topography.
Risk mitigation planning
Data gathered from the Disaster Wise assessment is overlayed with community knowledge to generate a contextualised picture of what is important to the community.
Community scenario modeling
Under Project Resilience, DRA offers communities the opportunity to conduct scenario modeling based on an all-hazards model. Scenario modeling helps communities identify and understand their risks, as well as how to mitigate them. This includes identifying areas where volunteers can have a meaningful impact.
Disaster Resilience Volunteering
Once the actionable tasks are identified, it’s time to mobilise a community volunteer workforce. Each disaster relief team manages the induction and training of motivated community volunteers.
A series of working weekends are planned where DRA volunteers work side by side with community volunteers on disaster resilience activities. These types of activities vary depending on the risk, but can include tree-felling, clearing debris and relocating small structures.