New facility to accelerate Australia's international disaster response

Report
from Australian Agency for International Development
Published on 29 Oct 2008
A warehouse containing essential emergency relief supplies opening today will enable Australian humanitarian agencies to respond faster to disasters in the region.

Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, today opened the Joint Emergency Stores Warehouse in Brisbane, a partnership between the Australian Government and three humanitarian relief agencies.

The joint arrangement of the facility will lower administration costs, ensuring more aid is delivered to those who need it. The warehouse will contain about 100 tonnes of supplies, valued at approximately $1 million.

"Australia is the regional leader in providing critical humanitarian and emergency relief and is often the first to respond when a natural disaster or crisis strikes our region," Mr McMullan said.

"We are now well into cyclone season, and the Asia-Pacific is particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods and droughts, so it is imperative that we are ready and well equipped to help nearby countries."

This pioneering facility will be run in partnership with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and Australian NGOs Oxfam, World Vision and the Australian Red Cross.

Red Cross Chief Executive Officer Robert Tickner said, "As we have seen in the past, the speedy provision of clean water, food and emergency shelter can make the difference in the aftermath of a disaster. This facility is an excellent example of the level of cooperation between the Australian Government and our three agencies, and will allow for much faster, coordinated responses to disasters across the Asia-Pacific region."

Oxfam Executive Director, Andrew Hewett said, "Having stocks of emergency relief items on hand in Brisbane means that Oxfam can get assistance to those hit hard by disaster in our region much more quickly. Saving hours in an emergency can mean saving lives."

Chief Executive of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello said, "The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami demonstrated the central role that the Australian Government and NGOs play in disaster relief. Since then we have seen unparalleled cooperation between aid agencies and the Australian Government. This warehouse is the sum of that partnership. The Australian public are rightly always asking about the efficiency of overseas aid efforts. This warehouse will have an enormous impact on our ability to work cooperatively and effectively when disasters strike."

On average Australia provides assistance to over 30 humanitarian and emergency situations every year. This year, the Government provided assistance to victims of cyclones in Burma and Bangladesh, the Chinese earthquake, floods and landslides in Indonesia and humanitarian food aid to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

In 2008-09, Australia will provide almost $320 million to support humanitarian, emergency and refugee programs.

Media contacts: Shannon Smallhorn (Mr McMullan's office) 0488 262 153
AusAID Public Affairs 0417 680 590