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Responding to emergencies

Australia always tries to deliver emergency assistance rapidly to those most in need.

AusAID is active from the moment it becomes aware of a disaster. AusAID immediately begins assessing the situation and gathering information to ensure that help is provided rapidly to those in need.

Before Australia can take direct action in an emergency however, the affected country must make an official request for assistance.

To take uninvited action would breach international protocols and show a lack of respect for the affected country's sovereignty.

On receiving a request for help AusAID's approach will depend on the circumstances of the emergency, including the type of help asked for and the specific response offered by Australia.

AusAID consults with a range of people who might include the Australian High Commission or Embassy in the affected country, the United Nations and Emergency Management Australia. AusAID may also consult with representatives from France and New Zealand, with whom we jointly respond to many of the disasters that occur in the Pacific.

AusAID will also seek the approval of the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs for funds if the situation warrants help from other government departments such as the Australian Defence Force.

At the same time AusAID consults with the Ministers of other Australian Government departments for the approval of their involvement.

AusAID may also ask for advice from non-government organisations (NGOs) on their ability to help and may activate its Periodic Funding Agreements for Disaster Risk Management. These agreements with six non-government organisations allow the Australian Government to respond through organisations with the capacity to provide effective emergency relief.

See also Non Government Organisations


National and international emergency relief organisations:

Periodic Funding Agreements for Disaster Risk Management:

Information on Emergencies:


Last reviewed: 18 December, 2009

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