From scorched bushland to flooded streets; the past few years have borne witness to a raft of natural disasters that have touched almost every corner of our country. And these series of events have, in turn, seen thousands of Aussies displaced from their homes and in need of immediate support from charities and relief organisations.

While the pandemic has touched Australians from every walk of life, for many Australians the impact of COVID-19 is the latest in a long line of devastating blows. And with the recent announcement of a La Nina season this summer, we could see flooding return yet again over the coming weeks and months.

Delivering support where it’s needed

Launching Disaster Relief Hubs in Sydney and Melbourne, the Amazon team are rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to respond to emergency situations—whenever, and wherever, they’re needed.

“Amazon Australia’s Disaster Relief Hubs will work with non-profit charity partners to distribute thousands of items to communities in need quickly,” explains Amazon Australia Community Engagement Manager, Charlotte Richardson. “During natural disasters, including flood and fire, we know our partners need specific items delivered to communities quickly, and we have worked with them to determine what items are most critical.”

The Disaster Relief Hubs—which will stock more than 45,000 relief items—are the latest in Amazon Australia’s local community relief efforts. This year, Amazon Australia has provided more than 268,500 relief items to people impacted by disasters, including the NSW Floods, WA bushfires and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Disaster relief items

Preparing for times of crisis

While the launch of two facilities are an Australian first, the initiative is part of Amazon’s established global disaster relief and response program, which has already donated more than 15 million relief items to support people impacted by more than 70 natural disasters around the world since 2017.

When a natural disaster strikes, these facilities then work with partner non-profits to deliver specific items to communities quickly. Foodbank Australia, the largest hunger relief charity in Australia, is one of the many charities using the support of Amazon Australia to help even more people doing it tough.

“Amazon Australia and Foodbank have been working together for a few years now,” said Foodbank Australia National Partnerships Manager, Kate Snailham.

“Since then, Foodbank has been collecting regular donations of perfectly edible and fit for purpose products from Amazon fulfilment centres to distribute to the more than one million people we help each month."

“We’re seeing disasters become increasingly frequent and severe, and a rising number of communities seeking Foodbank’s help."

“Up until a few years ago, when natural disasters hit, Foodbank had the capacity to stretch and help those communities affected, but over the past few years it has been tough to meet the increasing demand,” said Snailham.

“That’s why initiatives like Amazon’s disaster relief program are so crucial, they provide that extra capacity, that supply boost that we need during disasters so that we can get emergency relief to the people on the ground as soon that need it as soon as possible.”

Backed by local business owners

Achieving this shortfall has, in part, been made possible by the Amazon Australia SMB sellers, who are supplying products to ensure these charities have the items they need. And many of these business owners are not only offering physical product to help struggling communities, but their time too. Business owners like Andonis Sakatis.

“We’re supplying Amazon’s Disaster Relief Hubs with our products and are preparing relief packs with the support team to help build up the stock so it’s ready when it’s needed,” says the founder of Zenify—a profit-for-purpose company.

“By also donating my time to ensure these resources reach the Hub and are processed ready for delivery, we’re doing our bit to have a much bigger impact on the Australians that need our support.”

And he’s calling upon other Amazon Australia sellers to get onboard too:

“Business owners are in a unique position where they can sometimes have a surplus of products, skills and community connections, so I would encourage others to consider how they can use what they’ve already got to get behind the initiative too.”

Amazon disaster relief

From here to anywhere

As the rollout of the Disaster Relief Hubs in Melbourne and Sydney marks the start of a pilot program for the country, charity partners—including Foodbank—are excited about the increased impact the initiative will have in terms of building upon their relief efforts.

“This year, Amazon Australia has been incredible in helping us respond to the recurring lockdowns,” said Snailham. “Assigning funds and resources to secure the most-needed items that we struggle to source through rescue channels.

“And with Amazon coming on board as an official National Partner of Foodbank in 2022, we’re every excited to see what new initiatives we can explore and bring to life together!”

Amazon Australia has similarly lofty goals for the initiative—an initiative that builds on the organisation’s ongoing commitment to supporting local communities across the country, particularly during times of crisis.

“Amazon’s commitment to overcoming challenges in this space, as well as our scale, logistic agility and the resources we are putting behind it, have huge potential to improve how we provide disaster relief.

“We’re counting on Australian businesses to jump onboard and show their support in whatever way they can, whether it’s through physical donations or time spent volunteering. Together, we can reach the people that need us most, whenever and wherever they are.”

Learn more about Amazon’s global disaster relief program.