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Australian charities unite to launch disaster relief alliance

When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, killing nearly 9,000 people, injuring many more and destroying more than 500,000 homes, the generosity of Australians helped humanitarian organisations to respond with life-saving assistance.

When overseas disasters of this scale strike in the future, Australians will be able to help more quickly and easily thanks to the newly-formed Emergency Action Alliance (EAA), a coalition of international relief and development charities who have agreed to work together when disaster strikes.

The aim of this initiative is to make it even easier for people to respond, removing the barriers that people have said they find when trying to decide where to direct their donations. History shows us that Australians are incredibly generous when a disaster strikes, but also that it can be confusing to know where to donate when there are 16 different agencies all asking for support. Through the EAA we aim to avoid unhelpful competition when collaboration through one public appeal can make it easier for people to respond. We thus hope the EAA will remove any confusion, and maximise the impact of Australians’ generosity.

How will it work? When there’s a large-scale crisis overseas, the alliance will go out to the Australian public with one appeal inviting them to donate. The EAA will then direct the funds raised to the member agencies best positioned to respond to humanitarian needs. We expect this will help raise more money quickly and enable it to rapidly get to where it is most needed. It also means that the collective expertise of 16 agencies can be harnessed, with a bigger global footprint and diversity of skills and expertise.

A partnership approach underpins the EAA, with this group of agencies agreeing to work together in ways that have never before been achieved within the Australian charity sector. Foreign Minister Marise Payne helped launch the initiative and noted the value the government sees in this collaborative innovation.

Among the drivers for this new way of working is the sad reality that disasters are increasing around the world. Climate change is predicted to fuel more floods, heatwaves, droughts and fires, and the impacts of Covid-19 have made many already-vulnerable communities more vulnerable. It’s more vital than ever that charities can mobilise resources and respond rapidly to emergencies.

By working together, we believe we can raise more money, and help more people. This alliance is the first of its kind in Australia. It’s a great privilege to be part of it and to be working alongside other Australian aid agencies to help people who are facing grave humanitarian disasters.

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Matthew Maury is CEO of Tearfund Australia and chair of the EAA board. The EAA’s member agencies are Action Aid, ADRA, Act for Peace, Australian Lutheran World Service, Anglican Overseas Aid, Baptist World Aid, Caritas Australia, Care, CBM, ChildFund Australia, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, Tearfund Australia, Australia for UNHCR, and World Vision. Visit https://emergencyaction.org.au/

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