Stephen, Logistics Preparedness Officer at WFP coordinates the movement of resources in the Pacific.
03 Dec 2020
Australia Assists Annual Report

The humanitarians at the forefront of delivering the Australia Assists program faced unforeseen and unprecedented challenges in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. While safety and travel restrictions threatened to impact the efficacy of the program, our people found solutions to ensure we could stand alongside our partners and those most vulnerable.

Our persistence and agility resulted in the number of Australia Assists deployees actually increasing by 150 per cent. Many deployments were carried out remotely, and zero serious safety or security incidents were reported. Other highlights for the year included:

  • 108 specialists deployed to 33 program partners in 30 countries representing, on average, two deployees per week.
  • Deployments totalled 455 months against a minimum target of 415 months, equivalent to 38 years of continuous technical support in just one year. The program delivered on all DFAT post priorities. 
  • Females comprised 44 per cent of all Australia Assists deployment months. 
  • By June 2020, 67 per cent of all deployments had Covid-19 preparedness, response or recovery reflected in their Terms of Reference. 
  • FY20 marked the 50th Australia Assists deployment to the Rohingya crisis since 2017.
  • The top four deployment skill areas (response coordination; preparedness and disaster risk reduction; protection and legal; and logistics) reflect the high demand placed on deployees’ soft skills, such as negotiation, facilitation and relationship-building skills. 
  • Of the 12 core training courses scheduled for the year, RedR delivered nine courses to 265 participants, with the remaining cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19.

Seventy-three per cent of deployments supported organisations and communities across Asia and the Pacific, advancing the Australian Government’s humanitarian priorities. These deployments spanned the disaster cycle – preparedness, response and recovery – and facilitated strong partnerships within the regions. 

The program saw an increased focus on social inclusion, with deployees strengthening gender and protection through data collection, gender based violence response, and increased gender equality knowledge and capacity within host agencies. Disability inclusion also helped steer the program, with six partners receiving support to enhance their efforts in disability inclusive humanitarian action.

A challenge of the Australia Assists program in 2020 has been to safeguard the humanitarian gains of past decades against the impacts of Covid-19. The ongoing implications of the pandemic, and the new ways of providing assistance it has presented, will continue to be revealed in the years ahead. But, the pandemic has validated the program’s shift to disaster preparedness and strengthening local organisations and local solutions during disasters – a focus that will continue in the years ahead.

Read the full report here.