​​Justice and Community Partner Agencies sign disaster welfare MOU

​Community support arrangements formalised

​​​Publication date: Friday, 4 November 2016

The Department of Justice and five Community Partner Agencies have formalised support and welfare arrangements for NSW communities affected by natural disasters and emergencies with the signing of a new memorandum ​of understanding.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, Andrew Cappie-Wood and the Chief Executive Officers of the Australian Red Cross (NSW), the Salvation Army, the Adventist Development Relief Agency, Anglicare and the Uniting Church in Australia on 18 October.

The Disaster Welfare Services Unit, part of the Department of Justice’s Office of Emergency Management, coordinates the arrangements between the five Community Partner Agencies. Together, the agencies constitute the ‘Welfare Services Functional Area’ that is responsible for delivering key welfare services to meet the immediate needs of people who are affected by disasters.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the five Community Partner Agencies’ areas of responsibility are:

  • Australian Red Cross (NSW) – personal support and outreach services
  • The Salvation Army – catering services
  • Adventist Development Relief Agency – emergency accommodation
  • Anglicare – general support and material aid
  • Uniting Church in Australia – Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network

Allison Rowlands, Director, Disaster Welfare with the Department of Justic​e, said that formalising the arrangements with the Community Partner Agencies consolidates the strong relationships that already exist. ​

​"The Community Partner Agencies are crucial to providing vital welfare services in emergency operations. Formalising our relationships with the agencies and each agency’s responsibilities ensures we can support local NSW communities when they need it most," Dr Rowlands said.

In the past year, the five Community Partner Agencies have been involved extensively in several emergency operations, including the Kurnell Tornado in December 2015 and the East Coast Low in June 2016. In both these operations the Community Partner Agencies provided volunteer resources that enabled the Welfare Services Functional Area to meet its disaster relief responsibilities.

Since October 2015, Community Partner Agency volunteers have assisted the Department of Family and Community Services in establishing and maintaining more than 20 evacuation centres for emergency events across NSW. Since the end of August 2016, Community Partner Agency volunteers have supported local communities in the Central West and Riverina during the ongoing flooding event.​

Above: Representatives from the Department of Justice and the five Community Partner Agencies signed a memorandum of understanding on 18 October 2016.

Photographs courtesy of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Above: Disaster relief workers at the site of the Kurnell tornado in December 2015. 

Pictured, left to right: Vic Polito, Disaster Welfare Services Office of Emergency Management; Rev Dr Stephen Robinson, Uniting Church; Esther Singenstreu, Anglicare; and Stephen Cashel, Australian Red Cross.