Amazon Australia has officially opened its fourth Australian Disaster Relief Hub, located in Perth, providing a permanent store of essential supplies that can be delivered quickly and efficiently to the people of Western Australia if a natural disaster strikes.
“Amazon looks to contribute to our communities in many different ways, but to make the greatest impact, we prioritise our strength which is leveraging our logistics expertise and experience,” said Mindy Espidio-Garcia, Amazon Australia’s Director of Operations.
“After seeing the impact of our Disaster Relief Hubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, we’re really proud to expand this program to Western Australia, enabling us to offer local communities the assistance they need in a much more timely manner should a natural disaster occur.”
With the new Perth Disaster Relief Hub, Amazon Australia will work with its non-profit partners Foodbank, Australian Red Cross and St Vincent de Paul Society to deliver critical items across Western Australia, when and where they are needed.
Chris Walsh, Australian Red Cross State Lead for Recovery and Resilience, said the benefit of the hub was being able to get supplies quickly to people who have been impacted by disasters in Western Australia.
“There are already facilities on the east coast, but now that we’ve got one in Perth, it means that we can aim to get things like basic sanitary, hygiene and clean up products and the like to people within 48 hours of a disaster occurring.
“Rapid response is crucial in a disaster situation as people often have to evacuate with little notice,” he said.
Help at hand in Perth
Western Australia’s climate and extensive coastline puts the state at risk of a range of natural disasters from cyclones and floods to bushfires. Perth’s isolation from the east coast of Australia means it often takes longer for resources to be shipped to Western Australia, and in a disaster, time is crucial. By pre-positioning more than 15,000 disaster relief items locally, the Perth Disaster Relief Hub will help shorten that crucial timeframe.
If a natural disaster occurs, Amazon Australia’s emergency teams quickly assess what supplies are needed, and then teams of volunteers will consolidate, pack and ship supplies to non-profit partners or directly into disaster zones.
Chris Walsh, Australia Red Cross, said time was not the only challenge, with natural disasters hitting Western Australia with much greater ferocity than in the past.
“The scale of what we’re having to deal with is just growing continually and having this kind of backup just makes our job that bit easier,” he said.
Andy, an Amazon Australia volunteer and military veteran with experience in disaster relief, highlighted how important this Disaster Relief Hub was.
“One of the areas that the military was unable to support was through providing some of these basic stores, your toiletries, your basic amenities. So these sort of sites bridge that gap and allows our community and those impacted by natural disasters to be able to survive over a period of time and be able to have some form of normality back in their lives after a rather traumatic experience or event,” Andy said.
Essential items always on hand
Before launching the Disaster Relief Hub in Perth, Amazon Australia volunteers and non-profit partners spent two days assembling disaster relief kits so that they are on hand and ready to be sent to people in need during a natural disaster.
“The products we’ve got [in the disaster relief kits] are those everyday essentials that you just wouldn’t think of in the middle of a crisis. So, you’ve got personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, shampoo. Everything all in one pack,” said Kelly, a volunteer from Amazon Web Services.
Among the 15,000 disaster relief items stored at the Perth hub are more than 1,300 personal hygiene kits packed with essential products along with other critical items such as tarps, sleeping bags, mosquito repellent, clean up items and first aid kits. Wherever possible, these items have been sourced and purchased by Amazon from its Australian small and medium business sellers.
Most of the products are basic necessities but, as Chris Walsh said, it is these items that can make the world of difference in a disaster.
“Anybody that’s impacted by a disaster immediately goes into stress and having simple products, things that just make life that little bit easier, just allows you to get past that stress,” Chris said.
Andy added: “In the past I’ve noticed sometimes you haven’t brushed your teeth in three days and what a difference it can make just to be able to have something like a toothbrush and toothpaste. It’s small things that make a big difference for people’s morale and it can assist with coping with some of these traumatic events.”
Learn more about Amazon Australia’s Disaster Relief program here.