Disaster response agencies explained



Non-profit Organisations

ADRA Australia

ADRA Australia works with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive charge through empowering partnerships and responsible action. ADRA Australia is part of the Global ADRA network, which is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. With a presence in 125 countries, ADRA provides community development and emergency Management for those in need without regard to their ethnicity, gender, religion or political affiliation.

Disaster role

ADRA Australia has been serving the needs of disaster-affected persons since the mid 1970's and is expanding this service across Australia. ADRA facilitates the emergency accommodation needs of evacuees and emergency services personnel when disasters occur.

When called to support the community, ADRA Australia arranges accommodation suitable to the individual needs of evacuees.

ADRA partners with government and community organisations in Queensland and works as a key member of a coordinated team to support disaster-affected individuals and communities.

Volunteer roles

Their team of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers has assisted the Australian community during times of disaster for over 30 years. ADRA Australia offers individuals an opportunity for active community service and interaction with like-minded and dedicated volunteers from community organisations, the State Government and local community.

Being involved in ADRA Australia's Disaster Recovery Program will enable you to help your community in times of need and will equip and resource you to know what to do when disasters occur. Contact them to find details about training or volunteering opportunities to assist during emergencies.

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which supports vulnerable members of the community through a diverse range of activities. At all times, the Red Cross is guided by the 7 fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement: Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest voluntary organisation.

Disaster role

Australian Red Cross has been responding to emergencies and providing humanitarian assistance in Australia since 1914. They are committed to strengthening and extending their emergency services to assist all Australians prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

During the response phase, the Australian Red Cross is involved in a range of tasks, often running the evacuation and recovery centres, performing outreach and reconnecting families separated by an emergency through the National Registration and Inquiry System (NRIS).

Volunteer roles

The Australian Red Cross plays an integral role in responding to disasters and volunteers can be involved across all the aspects of Red Cross emergency response work.

The first step to becoming an emergency services volunteer is to complete the initial training module 'personal support' or if you are in Brisbane, attend one of the information sessions before signing up for the personal support training. The personal support volunteers help people to cope emotionally and practically in the aftermath of an emergency by providing useful practical information and advice, and assisting people to access services.

After completing the personal support training you could volunteer:

  • in an evacuation or recovery centre
  • doing outreach
  • as a call centre volunteer assisting families and relatives seeking the whereabouts of loved ones.

For information on training sessions and the opportunity to register please refer to the Australian Red Cross training section.


Lifeline provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services. Lifeline has a 24 hour crisis support service 13 11 14, and people access this for:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Abuse and trauma
  • Physical or mental well-being
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Stresses from work, family or society
  • Information for friends and family

Lifeline also provides national services and campaigns that promote emotional well-being, encourage help seeking, and address suicide prevention and awareness.

Disaster role

Lifeline plays a key role in supporting people emotionally and psychologically affected due to natural disasters. Their 24 hour crisis centre takes calls from people, and they have trained personnel at the evacuation centres. Trauma reaction to natural disasters may occur immediately after the event or in the weeks and months following. Trauma can be felt by people immediately involved, people who have experienced similar situations in their past or even people disconnected to the event.

Volunteer roles

You can undertake training in psychological first aid and join Lifeline's register of training disaster response volunteers. Whilst not specifically for disasters, many disaster affected people do access Lifeline's telephone support service. Find out more at lifeline.org.au.

RSPCA Queensland

The (RSPCA) Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland Inc. is the state's leading animal welfare authority. It is also the oldest animal welfare authority in Queensland. The Society is a non-government, registered animal welfare charity, with powers to enforce an Act of the Queensland Parliament - The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, which was proclaimed on March 1, 2002.

Disaster role

Provides assistance to pets and animals during disasters.

Volunteer roles

There are no specific volunteering roles listed for disaster situations. Read more about general volunteer opportunities.

The Salvation Army

It has been said The Salvation Army offers caring support for every problem "from the cradle to the grave." A few of their services include: aged care, community care ministries, court and prison services, crisis and supported accommodation, employment services, outback flying service youth support.

Disaster role

The Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams specialise in food services - providing for both displaced victims as well as the SES, emergency services and support staff that work to put-right disaster situations. Over the years, the SAES have been involved in a range of situations including the Canberra bushfires, the Lismore floods and Cyclone Larry on the north Queensland coast.

Volunteer roles

The SAES teams specialise in food services - providing for both displaced victims as well as the SES, emergency services and support staff that work to put-right disaster situations. Most SAES volunteers come from Salvation Army churches, however all people are welcome to be involved. All volunteers must complete a one-day SAES Accreditation course before they are eligible to participate.

St Vincent de Paul Society

St Vincent de Paul Society Qld offers a "a hand up" to people in need. They do this by respecting their dignity, sharing their hope, and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny. They deliver services to disadvantaged and marginalised communities.

These services include: aged care, migrant and refugee services, home, hospital, prison and detention centres visitation, homeless person's services, clothing and assistance centres, care for people with psychiatric disabilities, vocational services for people with a disability, drug, alcohol and gambling counselling, financial counselling, disaster recovery and street vans.

Disaster role

The St Vincent de Paul Society plays a pivotal role during and after disaster situations. During a disaster, they provide those affected, particularly evacuated people with essential material items, such as: blankets, toiletries, mattresses, essential new clothing, food and water. During the recovery phase, the Department of Emergency Services sets up a community 'one stop shop'. This is a central place where disaster registered people can access a range of services on one location. E.g. Insurance, Local Government, Red Cross, Health. The St Vincent de Paul Society will have a place in the one stop shop where people who need material support can be referred by the Department of Emergency Services.

Volunteer roles

Volunteers are called on to provide support through debris removal and cleaning up affected areas.