The Australian Resilience Corps has been developed by Minderoo Foundation with founding partner NRMA Insurance to create a national network of volunteers uniquely trained to help prepare Australians against natural disasters and extreme weather. The Corps trains and connects volunteers with existing community-led volunteer organisations to support work that helps communities at risk of natural disasters shift their focus from recovery to resilience.
Two years on from the devastating Black Summer bushfires, less than a year since the Perth Hills fires and following the floods in South-East Queensland and NSW, the aim is to encourage Australians to rally together and join what will become the largest network of volunteers to prepare and protect communities from fire and floods.
Along with founding partner NRMA Insurance, Minderoo Foundation is working with a range of Australian volunteer partners including Volunteering Australia, Disaster Relief Australia, Red Cross, Rural Aid, Lifeline Australia, Lions, Rotary WA, BlazeAid, and the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience (AIDR).
We’re proud to be working with Minderoo Foundation as the founding partner of the Australian Resilience Corps, a national volunteer platform to help communities build their resilience to the impacts of extreme weather.
NRMA Insurance Group Executive
Minderoo Foundation Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO and Co-Chair Nicola Forrest AO said at a time when extreme weather events were on the rise due to climate change, shifting the focus on natural disasters from reaction to preparation was critical for saving lives and futureproofing the nation.
“Seeing the outpouring of help following the Black Summer bushfires and hearing from communities themselves inspired us to work with partners to provide opportunities for Australians to direct their goodwill to off-season activities,” the Forrests said.
“By coming together to prepare each year for fires and floods we can make the seemingly impossible possible, and make our communities resilient to the devastation caused.
“This is a program for Australia.”
In Australia, 97 per cent of all disaster funding is spent after the event, with just three per cent committed to mitigation measures ahead of a natural disaster.
NRMA Insurance Group Executive, Julie Batch said, “We’re proud to be working with Minderoo Foundation as the founding partner of the Australian Resilience Corps, a national volunteer platform to help communities build their resilience to the impacts of extreme weather. We know our own NRMA Insurance employees – who see first-hand the heartbreaking impact severe weather has on our customers – are excited to join the Corps and help their communities be better prepared, stronger and more resilient.”
CEO of Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience Initiative, Adrian Turner, said shifting both the investment in natural disasters and mindset from recovery to resilience was critical to better protecting people, wildlife and our country, including regional economies.
“Having fought to protect my brother’s home in the Kangaroo Valley during the 2019-2020 bushfires, I know from first-hand experience that preparation and active land management saved the property and our lives,” Mr Turner said.
“We are grateful to our partners for working with us to lift the resilience of the most vulnerable communities across Australia by giving everyone the opportunity to upskill and help.”
A Fire Inside: A book. A film. A movement.
The Australian Resilience Corps is part of a bigger ambition to inspire Australians to get behind the power of help, which includes a feature length documentary and book supported by NRMA Insurance.
The Corps is launching concurrently with the film, ‘A Fire Inside’, produced by FINCH, and made possible with the backing of NRMA Insurance. The film highlights the extraordinary spirit of volunteerism during the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires and introduces the Australian Resilience Corps as a meaningful, tangible way for Aussies to help protect communities from future devastating disasters.
Shifting the focus from recovery to resilience
Australia’s leading companies such as Optus, Boston Consulting Group and others are supporting the Australian Resilience Corps via employee engagement as volunteers.
While one in three Australians volunteer annually, the number of hours Australians spend volunteering decreased by 20 per cent from 2014 to 2019 due to several factors including in particular people not knowing how to engage. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has also limited volunteer numbers.
Disaster Relief Australia CEO Geoff Evans said volunteerism is an Australian way of life and deeply rewarding to those who take up the challenge with limited opportunity previously for volunteers to offer their time ahead of disasters.
“It is already too late once there is smoke on the horizon. The Australian Resilience Corps provides a crucial opportunity for communities to come together and volunteer to mitigate and prepare for disasters. Resilient communities cope better with the impact of disasters and bounce back faster. With almost half of the Australian population living in communities that have a low-to-moderate level of disaster resilience there is much work to be done. DRA is proud to be part of this leading effort”.
Rural Aid chief executive officer John Warlters said volunteers were a force for good and the positive impact of their work in communities and on properties post-disasters extended beyond the physical tasks they tackled.
“Their mere presence was a psychological booster and helped strengthen the resolve of those impacted to carry on. Spirits are lifted when they arrive to provide a helping hand,” Mr Warlters said.
How to join the Australian Resilience Corps
Visit resiliencecorps.org.au to sign-up. You can complete resilience training and learn about essential topics that can help you plan-ahead of future disasters and reduce the risk of impact. You can connect with volunteer organisations aligned with your skills and interests to help communities in need.
In 2022, volunteers will be able to join activities in communities that are vulnerable to fires and floods to help prepare.