Disaster Relief Australia (hereafter referred to as “DRA”) is a veteran-led disaster relief non-profit organisation, that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy into communities affected by natural disasters, both domestic and international. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, DRA aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible. Founded in 2016 with the express goal of responding quickly to large-scale disasters, DRA has already deployed hundreds of volunteers across Australia and the world. Through continued service, DRA provides veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a sense of purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and identity, from recognizing the impact one individual can make. Coupled with leadership development opportunities, DRA helps veterans transition from military to civilian life. Across the world, disasters are a part of life. No corner of the globe is spared – from crippling winter storms, catastrophic cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes or unchecked bushfires. By focusing on under-served or economically-challenged communities, DRA seeks to make the largest impact possible. Disasters represent a significant financial cost, and by providing immediate relief work, at no cost to the homeowner, DRA helps communities begin their recovery sooner. With a large membership base of highly skilled volunteers, DRA have the capacity to be operational in a disaster zone for months if necessary, long after the first responders have completed their mission. DRA is capable of incident Management, damage and impact assessment, aerial damage assessment and mapping, work order management, spontaneous volunteer management, debris management & restoring access, expedient home repair, and resilience & capacity building. DRA’s teams carry out manual tasks such as sifting through the remains of completely burnt houses to look for items of value, stripping down damaged houses and sheds, clearing fence lines, and moving debris. DRA also listen to people’s stories, providing invaluable support and giving a sense of hope and comfort to people who have lost everything.
The majority of DRA’s members are volunteers. With the increased demand on DRA’s resources came the need to be able to handle and sustain the increased demand on its membership. The volunteer base has grown to nearly 2500 members across the country. A large majority are veterans, with first responders and civilians making up the rest. Consequently – new programs for induction and training (first aid, chainsaw, advanced first aid, leadership, Incident Management Team etc) are being planned and implemented across different states and regions. DRA has a growing presence in Australia in the recovery space – with ever increasing recognition for the work that they are doing amongst state and national government agencies and officials, as well as the general public. DRA is building a reputation in the veteran community for honest hard-work, camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Combined with training programs run by senior members in ‘leadership and team management’ DRA’s membership base is able to provide cohesive, efficient teams that can “hit the ground running”. Week after week of fresh volunteers who arrive are able to dive into a streamlined system to deliver relief assistance. Increasing capabilities at the individual and organisational level allows DRA to deliver world class disaster relief to local residents, with not only physical and manual labour, also providing a sense of community and moral support, which increases resilience in disaster affected communities. One of the key aspects of the tremendous growth at DRA has been the increase of funds raised by the organisation for its operations. The milestones reached over the past 3 years has given DRA a rock-solid reputation as being honest, dependable, extremely hard-working and efficient. They are completely dependent on the generosity of their donors for financial support, which enables DRA to achieve their goals. As the organisation’s reputation and presence has increased, so has the support and financial contributions.
DRA’s mission is to be the pre-eminent disaster relief organisation in the Asia Pacific region, and in doing so, change the narrative around what it means to be a veteran in Australia. With the tremendous growth within the organisation in the last few months, which was a direct response to the increasing demand for their services within Australia, DRA hope to build on this success and have an enduring presence in the world of disaster relief and recovery work – locally, nationally and internationally. DRA provides dual purpose to every dollar they spend. They are able to provide relief to disaster affected communities and provide a sense of purpose to veterans.
For further information on Disaster Relief Australia visit disasterreliefaus.org