With last month’s severe bushfires in the Adelaide Hills area of South Australia and Moyston, Victoria, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate from their homes, Australian Red Cross stepped in to help people keep in touch with family and friends.
The Red Cross’s service, Register.Find.Reunite.– the country’s national registration and inquiry system for disasters – helps those affected by a disaster to contact their loved ones. Evacuees register to indicate they are safe, while families can contact the service to find their loved ones.
Everyone affected by the fires was encouraged to register with Red Cross online, by telephone or in person at a relief centre – Red Cross registered more than 900 people during the recent Australian fires.
Red Cross is also provided evacuees with much needed psychological first aid. Forty-four Red Cross staff and volunteers worked at two 24-hour relief centres at the Golden Grove Recreation Centre and the Willaston Football Club set up for those fleeing the bushfires.
As well as disaster response and recovery, Red Cross also works to help communities across Australia to prepare for disasters – work that is funded by Land Rover Australia.
A recent survey, commissioned by Australian Red Cross for Disaster Preparedness Week (September 2014), showed that more than 90% of people don’t have an emergency plan, even though almost everyone agrees it is important to be prepared.
“Every year all over Australia, disasters affect thousands of people. Lives are lost, people are injured, and homes, property, businesses and communities suffer devastating damage,” said Red Cross National Co-ordinator, Emergency Preparedness, John Richardson.
The need for disaster preparedness has resulted in the creation of a now well-established Disaster Preparedness Programme, which is designed to help communities anticipate the issues they face today before they become greater problems tomorrow.
The Red Cross programme, which advises people to create a practical, four-step plan, is now being used around the country.
- Step 1: keep up to date and informed about what emergencies might happen, where to go if you are unable to go home and how to get information and help in an emergency.
- Step 2: create a household emergency plan to help you be more resilient, ensuring you think about protecting your valuables, including pets and animals.
- Step 3: put together an emergency kit and consider how to identify the essentials; what valuables and keepsakes to include and how to figure out where to store the kit.
- Step 4: get to know your neighbours. People who know their neighbours are more likely to help each other out in an emergency, increasing your chances of coping better in the long term.
The advice featured heavily in Disaster Preparedness Week, a major education and awareness exercise in September 2014, using the tagline “protect what’s important to you”.
It was disseminated widely in radio and television interviews, press articles, direct mail and social media as well as through schools projects and community workshops. In the last six months, volunteers have delivered nearly 150 Preparedness Workshops in remote and high-risk communities all over the country, travelling 240,000 kms in the process. The workshop tours were facilitated by Land Rover Australia, which loaned seven vehicles – two in Queensland and five in Victoria – for use in emergencies as well delivering the education programme.
The Australian arms of Land Rover and Red Cross have been working closely together since 2010 on a multi-tiered partnership, which was specifically designed to help local communities become more resilient. As well as a fleet of vehicles, Land Rover Australia provides on-going financial support to assist the Emergency Services – Preparedness team across Australia.
Land Rover’s Australian campaign is part of a global five year, £15million programme. By working with other Red Cross National Societies and Land Rover markets, the programme aims to reach over one million vulnerable people around the world through emergency support and resilience planning, health and social care, water and sanitation projects.