Operation Kelliher

Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) committed to deploying a veteran-led volunteer workforce to Queensland and New South Wales in response to catastrophic flooding. Operation Kelliher became one of DRA’s largest operational commitments to date.

In response to Floods
Location QLD & NSW View map
Status Complete
Dates Mar 2022 – May 2022
Operation Kelliher

Flood Recovery in QLD & NSW

Over an eight-week period, DRA’s skilled volunteers worked alongside locals to provide hands-on help across a range of tasks. This included debris removal, rubbish removal, mould treatment, clearing key access points and general mud clean-up to affected communities.

A mass call-out to the general public saw DRA’s highly trained veteran volunteers, lead a mud army of volunteers to support recovery activities.

 Area of Operations

DRA conducted the largest disaster response activity since the inception of the organisation in 2017. Skilled volunteers undertook challenging and dirty flood recovery work in both QLD and NSW. The veteran-led volunteers worked alongside locals from the Moreton Bay region in QLD and then Coraki, NSW just a short drive from Lismore.

DRA staff and volunteers worked tirelessly in the Northern Rivers community from the beginning of March 2022. Flood recovery through Operation Kelliher (based in Coraki NSW) concluded on Sunday 8 May 2022. The road back to recovery after the catastrophic flooding events was long and tough, and continued long after the conclusion of Operation Kelliher.

DRA sincerely thanks everyone involved for their selfless contribution and service. To all our partners, supporters, and donors who have and are continuing to contribute funding, donations or in-kind support, thank you so much for your generosity.

To the Northern Rivers NSW Community and the Coraki Golf Club, thank you for being so welcoming and accommodating to our volunteers. You truly are an amazing and humbling group of people, and it has been a privilege to work side by side with you.

The story behind the name

Operation Kelliher is named for Richard Kelliher, a courageous soldier awarded the Victoria Cross. A labourer from New Farm, Queensland Private Kelliher (1910-1963) enlisted in 1941.
Initially sent to the Middle East, he later transferred to the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion. The battalion took part in the fighting in the Owen Stanley Range and at Gona.

Kelliher’s bravery continues to reverberate with importance as a symbol of our Australian identity of mateship and an insistence to help others. In the face of disaster for many, his two perilous acts on 13th September 1943 meant those who endured did not die that day.

On 13th September 1943, during the Battle of Lae, Private Richard Kelliher’s platoon came under heavy machine-gun fire from a concealed Japanese machine gun positioned a mere 50 yards away. With five men killed and three wounded, it appeared impossible to advance without further losses. After months of terrible fighting, they believed they would fail.

In the face of heavy enemy fire, Private Kelliher’s bravery and devotion to duty resulted in the capture of the enemy’s position.
When several of his platoon, including his section leader, became casualties. Not to be stopped, Private Kelliher of his own volition, dashed toward the enemy hurling two grenades killing significant numbers.

Heavy fire, from another enemy position, continued unabated as Kelliher returned to his platoon’s position. Securing a Bren, he once again returned to the enemy post to silence it forever. This final act meant the rescue of his wounded corporal—saving his life. These acts of exceptional bravery warranted Private Kelliher to be awarded the Victoria Cross.


Become a partner 25,767

Volunteer hours

Become a partner 714

Volunteers deployed

Become a partner $1.4 million

Community costs saved

Time icon 526

Work orders completed

QLD and NSW Flood Recovery 2022

DRA’s flood recovery operation in QLD and NSW

Operation Burton

Get involved

Planning for upcoming operational deployments is now underway. If you are keen to participate or find out more, express your interest today.

Find out more