Australia Assists
Annual Report
FY21

Australia Assists is an Australian Government funded program, delivered by RedR Australia, that deploys technical specialists to work with governments, multilateral agencies and communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and conflict.

Message from RedR Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Kirsten Sayers

This year, climate change, COVID-19 and shifting geopolitical dynamics have continued to create unprecedented challenges for individuals, communities and partners. Through RedR Australia and the Australia Assists Program, the Australian Government has stayed and delivered in the face of increased humanitarian need.

As communities around the world struggle, learn and find new ways to adapt to the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program’s disaster risk management expertise has never been more in demand. The program rapidly began delivering on Australia’s Partnerships for Recovery Strategy, demonstrating the need to manage consecutive and compounding natural hazards while simultaneously mitigating and responding to the global pandemic.

While the world watched in shock as the 1 February military coup in Myanmar escalated and widened an unfolding humanitarian crisis, the program was already positioned to support affected populations, building on 60 deployments over four years in Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh, to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.

Together with the Australian Government, RedR Australia is proud to be delivering on a long-term mission to invest in and accelerate local humanitarian leadership in nations and communities managing natural hazards, crises and conflict. We have asked the hard questions to determine what more we can do to proactively redress societal power imbalances. Leveraging our gender, disability and localisation action plans, the program is seeing accelerated progress on these shared commitments that ensure the world is a more equal, fair and inclusive place.

The challenges of the past year have been significant. RedR Australia’s agility and extensive partnership architecture continue to enable Australia Assists to support before, during and after crises, conflict and a global pandemic.

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Australia Assists at a Glance

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109
Total deployments
14% deployed within their country or region of origin.
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523
Total deployment months
Against a minimum target of 350; and a 15% increase on FY20.
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26
Total countries
Supporting 30 partner host organisations.
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44
COVID-19 deployments
Directly supported COVID-19 preparedness and response.

Program Statistics

  • 109 specialists deployed to 30 program partners in 26 countries across the Indo-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
  • Deployments totalled 523 months, against a minimum target of 350, a 15 per cent increase on FY20.
  • Females comprised 46 per cent of all deployments, a 2 per cent increase on FY20.
  • 20 specialists deployed into targeted gender equality, disability inclusion and protection roles.
  • 69 specialists, or 63 per cent, were deployed in-country, while 48 (37 per cent) worked remotely.
  • 44 specialists, or 40 per cent of the program, directly supported COVID-19 preparedness and response (61 per cent Pacific, 25 per cent Asia, 14 per cent Middle East, Africa and Europe).
  • RedR Australia’s Roster maintains gender parity.
In FY21, Australia Assists provided 523 months or the equivalent of 44 consecutive years of technical humanitarian expertise in just one year.

Milestones

  • The program is reinforcing the strengths of our region. Through Australia Assists, RedR delivered its first, fully contextualised Pacific Essentials of Humanitarian Practice training course to augment regional emergency management capacity. Pacific Islander training and subject matter experts co-led the design and delivery.
  • The program is becoming more diverse. In line with Australia Assists’ Localisation Action Plan (LAP), the RedR Roster comprises 25 nationalities, and 17 per cent of all deployed personnel had the socio-cultural or linguistic background of the country into which they deployedⁱ. The program met 40 per cent of LAP targets in the first nine months of implementation.
  • The program is delivering on Australian Government gender equality and social inclusion priorities, reaching the highest number of Gender Action Plan targets (25/28 or 89 per cent) and Disability Action Plan targets (21/26 or 81 per cent) to date.
  • The program is operationally agile in a COVID-19 environment. A COVID-19 Action Review Report in August 2020 found that RedR had maximised resources to stage an agile and flexible whole-of-organisation response to the pandemic, including accelerating localisation and diversifying the RedR Roster.
  • The program is directly supporting national systems. Twelve deployees were embedded in Pacific government ministries and a further seven deployees to UN agencies were seconded to ministries or worked alongside government counterparts.
  • Demand for the program is growing. Twenty-four Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Posts engaged with the program, with RedR responding to new and emerging priorities, including requests from Posts that previously had no or limited engagement with the program. The increasing demand for Australia Assists reflects the quality of deployees and outcomes achieved, coupled with DFAT’s enhanced internal communication.
"The deployment of Australia Assists personnel into Iraq extends the reach of our humanitarian and stabilisation program. It has driven progress on Australian Government priorities, including on disability inclusion, gender equality and post-conflict accountability mechanisms."
— DFAT Post, Iraq.

ⁱ At a regional rather than country level, this number increases to 22 deployments or 20 per cent of the program.

Impact

  • The Review of Australia Assists’ Support to the Rohingya Crisis 2017-2020 revealed that the program delivered critical impact and value for money. More than 50 deployees since 2017 have provided life-saving assistance, helped protect the most vulnerable, and supported a more targeted, sustainable and accountable response.
  • The same review recommended further research into the experiences of Australians working in humanitarian agencies. RedR is finalising this work, with a focus on opportunities to advance the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the sector.
  • The program is facilitating legislative change, with a deployee assisting the Director of NEMO Tonga to prepare the nation for future disasters by drafting a Disaster Risk Management Bill. The Bill, which passed in August 2021, also broadens the NEMO’s scope to include safeguarding, protection and inclusion responsibilities.
  • Australia Assists undertook its first clinical deployments in response to COVID-19, with two emergency nurses deployed to an IOM field hospital in Bangladesh, and an Infection, Prevention and Control Technical Advisor deployed to Papua New Guinea.
  • RedR Australia operationalised the newly signed bilateral agreement with RedR Indonesia, with the deployment of four Indonesian nationals to support the COVID-19 response.
  • The first jointly recruited specialist with RedR India was deployed as a Capacity Development and Deployments Expert, supporting the broad mandate of the CDRIⁱ.
"We will continue to engage with RedR because we believe in their capacity, and most importantly because [the partnership] exemplifies integrity, dedication and commitment to humanitarian values and value-based partnership."
— Deputy Executive Director, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance.
  • The program’s first Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Specialist was deployed to UN Women Myanmar from July 2020 to June 2021 as conflict and crisis escalated within the country. As the February 2021 coup further destablised peace and security, she worked alongside women in the community to advance local ownership of the WPS agenda.
  • Three Civil-Military and Access Advisors helped OCHA address significant access constraints that actors face as they try to respond to spiralling humanitarian needs in Myanmar, Jordan and Ethiopia respectively. The work progressed, despite severe restrictions on movement, communications and resources. 
  • Support to the Humanitarian Partnership Forum’s Localisation Task Team in Jordan resulted in the country’s first jointly agreed gender-responsive Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Framework to push the localisation agenda forward. 
  • Supporting climate change readiness in Timor-Leste, two specialists worked alongside the relevant Ministry’s DRM-Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, resulting in the DRM Strategy for Agriculture and the Multi-Hazard DRM Plan for Agriculture being drafted and implemented.
  • FY21 saw the first Australia Assists deployment to UNESCO in Samoa, where a COVID-19 Information and Communications Technology Education Specialist delivered education solutions to enable the Samoan Government to ensure no child is left behind, as the rising sea and climate challenges impede access to physical school infrastructure.
  • The program stands in the wake of crises. Following Cyclone Harold (April 2020), Cyclone Yasa (December 2020), and Cyclone Ana (January 2021), 13 deployees assisted in response roles, spanning national emergency operation centre support, crop damage assessments, information management, evacuation, procurement, donor funding and reconstruction.
"A perfect blend of global systems applied locally and regionally in one course."
— Pacific EHP Participant 
"RedR Australia has been one of OCHA’s strongest partners in conducting training courses to prepare personnel to deploy to the field. They provide expertise in the realm of training which is scarce, with a strong awareness of and regard to gender sensitivity and disability inclusion."
— United Nations Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Development Coordination. 

ⁱ CDRI is a multi-stakeholder global partnership of country governments, UN agencies, multilateral banks, the private sector and knowledge institutions that aims to build resilience into infrastructure systems for sustainable development.

Deployments by skill area

The top two deployment skill areas (response coordination; preparedness and disaster risk reduction (DRR)) reflect the high demand for COVID-19 and climate-related program support.

Deployments by gender

The program maintains gender parity, with the proportion of female deployments increasing by 2% compared to FY20.

Female

Male

Deployments by host organisation

UN

FAO; IOM; OCHA; UN Women; UNDP; UNESCO; UNFPA; UNHCR; UNICEF; UNITAD; UNRWA; WFP; WHO.

Governments

Department of Water Resources Vanuatu; Ministry of Health and Medical Services Solomon Islands; Ministry of Health Vanuatu; Ministry of the Interior Timor Leste; Ministry of Justice and Community Services; Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commission; Office of the Prime Minister Vanuatu; Office of the President Kiribati; Department of Health PNG; Public Works Department Vanuatu.

National Disaster Management Authorities

NDMO Samoa; NDMO Vanuatu; NEMO Tonga.

NGOs

IPPF; SPC.

Regional Organisations

AHA Centre; PDF.

Deployments across the disaster cycle

Australia Assists deployed specialists right across the disaster cycle from Disaster Risk Reduction, to Emergency Management and Response, to Stabilisation and Recovery.

Infographic showing the disaster cycle. The outside circle shows EPO4: Quality of Humanitarian Action. The next inner circle is divided into 3 showing 1) stability, resilience & risk reduction 2) Crisis preparedness and response, 3) Stabilisation, Recovery & Reconstruction. The innermost circle is also divided into 3. 1) EPO1 - support before a crisis (37 deployments), 2) EPO2  - support during a crisis (53 deployments), 3) EPO3 Support after a crisis (19 deployments)
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25

Nationalities

on the RedR Roster.
17% of all deployees had the socio-cultural or linguistic background of the country of deployment.
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20

Targeted deployments

in gender equality, disability and protection roles in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals 5, 10 & 16.
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12

Deployees embedded

in Pacific government ministries plus 7 more seconded to ministries or working alongside government counterparts.  

Deployments by Region

Program Snapshots

Download FY21 Deployment Data

Program Management