Australia’s humanitarian support Part II: Supporting local efforts & response

On World Humanitarian Day, we pause to consider the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict or disasters.  We also pay tribute to the brave humanitarian workers who have risked or lost their lives providing assistance and protection to those in need.

Australia is playing a critical role in helping partners prepare for, respond to and recover from disaster, conflict and instability globally. We are committed to responding to humanitarian crises around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific, one of the world’s most disaster prone regions.

This photo essay has three parts. The first highlights everyday Australians, doing extraordinary things to help those in need around the world. The second focuses on local people, who are often the best placed to help their own communities in times of crises.  The third looks at Australia’s assistance to help some of the more than 68 million people across the world now displaced due to instability and conflict.

All of these images highlight Australia’s efforts to work with and restore hope to the world’s most vulnerable.


Local people are best placed to help their own communities in times of crisis. Australia works with a range of international NGOs and national Red Cross societies to engage with and empower local people. We also partner with grass roots organisations such as women’s groups to ensure Australian assistance is targeted to those that need it most. These images capture the efforts of these organisations and the people they assist, along with the local, unsung heroes, who carry the burden of humanitarian action.

Credit: Robert McKechnie/Save the Children, January 2018.


In September 2017 the eruption of Vanuatu’s Manaro Voui volcano blanketed Ambae with volcanic ash, making parts of the island uninhabitable and triggering its evacuation. Ash and acid rain have damaged crops and contaminated water sources and continue to pose serious longterm health and safety risks to Ambae’s more than 10,000 inhabitants – including 5,220 children.

Meeting children’s needs and ensuring their protection is critical in emergencies when children can be separated from their parents and forced into crowded public spaces. Australia supported Save the Children Australia and CARE Australia to establish 20 child friendly spaces in evacuation centres. These spaces enabled children to play, resume their education and establish a sense of routine and normality. This support is continuing through the current, second evacuation of Ambae, caused by a reoccurrence of volcanic activity.

Credit: Cassandra Hill/Caritas Australia, February 2017.


In 2015 and 2016, El Nino caused widespread drought and frost across Papua New Guinea. An estimated 2.4 million people were affected, with approximately 480,000 of those impacted by severe food shortages. With Australian support, Caritas Australia worked closely with communities to re-establish food and water security and build resilience for future extreme weather events.

Credit: Navneet Narayan/Australian Red Cross, February 2016.


In February 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston caused widespread damage throughout Fiji. The strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, Winston caused 44 deaths and affected around 540,000 people – more than 60 per cent of Fiji’s population. Australia worked closely with the Government of Fiji and trusted humanitarian partners to provide immediate assistance to over 200,000 Fijians. Australia’s humanitarian assistance included relief supplies, such as shelter, water, food and hygiene items, the provision of emergency health care, and restoring access to education. Here Fiji Red Cross volunteers help distribute Australian relief supplies to the Rakiraki community in the wake of the cyclone.

Credit: Jo Jamieson/National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, March 2017.


Attendees at an Australian-funded Major Incident Medical Management and Support course in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Australia is building disaster capacity and capability across the Asia-Pacific, including in PNG, through the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. Aimed at clinicians, paramedics and other staff involved in prehospital and emergency management in the region, this course increases participants’ skills in teamwork, triage, incident command and control, communications and safety.

Credit: Kathleen Prior/International Planned Parenthood Federation, November 2017.


A pregnant woman attends a mobile health clinic following the eruption of Vanuatu’s Manaro Voui volcano on Ambae. The clinic was supported by Australia through the Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in Crisis and Post Crisis Settings (SPRINT). Each day over 500 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications in humanitarian crises. “When we evacuated it was really hard with seven children and being pregnant. First, we travelled by foot, then the rest of the way by truck. I explained to my children what was happening, they were scared. We saw the smoke and the fire coming out. When we arrived on [the neighbouring island of] Santo, we slept in a church, and they were ready with food for us before we even arrived.”

Credit: CARE Australia/John Hewat, July 2018.


In February 2018, a devastating series of earthquakes struck the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Highlands Region. Australia played a leading role in support of the PNG government’s relief efforts. With Australian Government support, CARE Australia delivered shelter materials and other essential aid supplies to affected communities. Here Salolpis stands in front of his temporary constructed house in Huiya village in the remote PNG Highlands.

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