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Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability

Building resilience: humanitarian assistance, disaster risk reduction and social protection


Left, people carrying and injured person, right, a teacher and student

Above left: Dr Ian Norton, Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response at the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre in Darwin, assisting a patient at the AusMAT medical facility in Darwin. Photo: Gemma Haines / DFAT
Above right: Parent volunteer and student, Pagasa Special Education Centre, San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines. Photo: Anne Rigby/DFAT

External shocks, including natural disasters, conflict, and economic shocks (such as food and fuel price spikes) severely undermine growth, reverse hard-won development gains and increase poverty and insecurity. Women and children are often the most exposed to these risks, losing income and opportunities and facing increased risk of sexual and gender based violence during crises.

Australia’s region is highly vulnerable to these shocks, and their impact is becoming more extreme as climate-related disasters become more severe and frequent. In the past decade, 2.2 billion people were affected by natural disasters with around two-thirds located in the Asia-Pacific region. The associated global economic cost is estimated at US$1.5 trillion, with around US$750 billion incurred in the Asia-Pacific.

This means that we need a more effective humanitarian system to ensure timely, coordinated international responses to specific disasters. Disaster preparedness, risk reduction and social protection help build the resilience of countries and communities. Social protection (including regular, predictable cash and other transfers) is critical to building community resilience. In emergencies, cash transfers are one means to address the most pressing needs. Social protection is also effective in dealing with the daily stresses experienced at the household level. Transfers can enable people to meet their basic needs, learn new skills, ensure their children are educated and keep their families healthy.

Australia's response

In line with our global responsibilities, Australia will respond promptly and effectively to humanitarian disasters. In our own region, we will pursue a number of measures to build the resilience of countries, communities and the most disadvantaged members of communities to future disasters and shocks. We will:

  • rapidly respond to disasters in the Indo-Pacific, drawing on specialist expertise within Australia, using pre-positioned relief supplies and standby arrangements with effective Australian and international humanitarian partners
  • work to improve the reach, quality and responsiveness of the international humanitarian system
  • promote effective disaster risk reduction in our region, working with partner governments and the private sector to identify risks and hazards and increase disaster-resilient investments
  • inform and enhance our efforts by working closely with effective Australian NGOs and international humanitarian partners
  • work with countries in the region to build resilience to climate-related shocks and manage the impacts of climate change
  • draw on civilian specialists from the Australian Civilian Corps primarily to help our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region prevent, prepare for, stabilise and recover from disasters and conflict
  • work closely with partner governments to improve and expand the coverage of national social protection systems so transfers reach the poor, enabling them to improve their own lives.


Last reviewed: 18 June, 2014