Monday, October 26, 2009

Australian regional civil disaster response force to be established

In two earlier posts (here 1, here 2) I spoke in the context of Padang of the need to boost regional cooperation in emergencies.

This Defence Department video shows the reverse osmosis water treatment plant being packed up now the main Padang water supply is coming back on line. The Australian system helped buy time while the Indonesian authorities worked to get the main system on line. This was helped by three emergency generators supplied by AusAid to support pumping from three deep wells.

At the ASEAN summit Australia Prime Minister Rudd has announced that Australia is to set up a rapid-response civilian emergency team to be deployed across Asia.

Details are still a little sketchy, but there will apparently be a register of 500 civilians who can be sent immediately to help in overseas disaster and conflict zones. This team will form part of a broader regional strategy to coordinate military and civilian responses to natural disasters.

I think that the idea of having a structured stand-by civil team that can assist Defence efforts is a good one. As the PM said, the more assistance that can be provided in the first days and weeks the greater the chance of avoiding follow-up disasters such as disease.

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