Home > Relief Efforts > Case Study: Australia

Case Study: Australia

26 December was the fateful day when the tsunami struck south Asia , stunning everybody across the world. Everyone raced to help out in the relief efforts, regardless of nation, race or religion.

Australia was one of the major countries which responded promptly to the incident, on 27 December 2004; barely a day after the disaster, the Australian prime minister announced at a news conference:

"I express on behalf of all of the Australian people my deepest sympathy and great profound condolences to the people and the governments of so many countries in our region. The Australian people feel the greatest sympathy for our friends in the region. We'll do everything we can as a regional neighbour and regional friend to assist the countries that have been so badly affected."

In the thirty-six hours following the tragic disaster:

  • An emergency task force of senior officials was established in Canberra , Australia 's capital, to make plans for Australia 's response
  • Four RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft sent essential supplies from the AusAID emergency store to Indonesia
  • AusAID provided funds for the sending of four participants in United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams to Thailand and Indonesia
  • Additional staff from Canberra was dispatched to Indonesia , Thailand and Sri Lanka to lend a helping hand.

Relief Efforts in Specific Countries


Coordination and transportation

  • Planning and transportation of relief supplies to affected communities, including the usage of one Boeing 707 aircraft, four C-130 Hercules aircraft, one Il-76 aircraft and two Antonov aircraft complete with a crew.
  • The service of the HMAS Kanimbla was requested. It included 250 sailors, 150 engineers, 2 Sea King Helicopters, 2 Landing Craft and other equipment to help out in relief efforts.
  • The sending over of telecommunications equipment to facilitate communication and technicians to provide their technical expertise.


  • Funding for 5 teams of about 27 Australian doctors and other medical staff to provide prompt medical assistance to the victims.
  • Emergency supplies of a substantial amount of tetanus toxoid vaccines and tetanus immunoglobulin to treat and prevent the disease were sent over.
  • Sending over of a team member to the WHO-led health sector assessment.

Water supply and sanitation

  • Sourcing and sending over of 129,000 20 liter water containers to Banda Aceh , Indonesia .
  • Assistance was provided to get rid of debris and drainage problems at the Zainoel Abidin Hospital in Banda Aceh and to rebuild public infrastructure through the ADF Engineering Group.

Food and non food items

  • Financial support to the WFP for emergency food, water supplies and logistics areas in support of relief operations and the setting up of the UN Joint Logistics Centre.


  • Funds from Australia 's $3 Million emergency response donation to UNICEF are providing a 'school-in-a box' program for primary schools.

Sri Lanka

The Australian Government has pledged more than $10 million for emergency relief in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the large-scale disaster.

Australia 's aid to Sri Lanka has included support and assistance for the following items:

  • World Food Program for emergency food aid for the affected victims
  • UNICEF for emergency water and sanitation systems, health promotion, temporary schools and education material such as textbooks and stationery.
  • UNHCR for temporary accommodation for the internally displaced.
  • The sending of a five-person public health team to carry out a assessment in relief camps for victims to pinpoint areas where surveillance and prevention of disease outbreaks could be improved upon.
  • Freight costs of two shipments of donated Australian medical, pharmaceutical and surgical equipment. The items were donated by numerous Australian health and relief organizations. The shipments arrived in Sri Lanka during the period of January to February 2005.
  • The Australian High Commission in Colombo , Sri Lanka has also approved several small grants from the Direct Aid Program to aid families affected by the disaster in several places, including Hikkaduwa, Batticaloa, Sainthamarutha and Tricomalee.

The ongoing Australian $23 million aid program to Sri Lanka will also be adjusted for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, which is expected to take a while.


The Australian Government has committed approximately $4 million for an immediate assistance package to the Maldives . Currently AusAID is mobilizing further assistance packages for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.

Australia 's aid to the Maldives to date has included support for the following:

  • The deployment of an 8-person team of Australian marine experts to assess damage done to the coral reef structure and associated ecosystems in the Maldives .
  • The deployment of fifteen primary and secondary school teachers to assist the Ministry of Education in teaching so that schools could reopen in time for the start of the new year in late January 2005.
  • The deployment of a 4-person team of Australian engineers to work with the Maldives school authorities and UNICEF to check on the structural integrity and repairs required for about 35 schools.
  • World Food Program for emergency food aid for the victims of the tsunami and related logistical operations.
  • The deployment of a 17-person medical team to treat those affected by the disaster and to send over crucial medical supplies. The medical team was in the Maldives starting 30 December for 9 days. They also carried in about 4,000 jerry cans for household water storage.


Australia has contributed $500,000 to the United Nations Development Program to provide makeshift shelters for families and rebuild important infrastructure. It will help with the economic recovery of the country.


  • AusAID: Indian Ocean Disaster. AusAID. Retrieved April 26, 2005, from http://www.ausaid.gov.au/hottopics/topic.cfm?Id=9562_2054_7529_7688_4864

Content Outline