Brisbane base for national disaster response

Flooded house in Brisbane. | Newsreel
Disaster Relief Australia has based its National Operations Centre in Brisbane. | Photo: Andesign 101 (iStock)

Brisbane is the new operational base for national disaster recovery organisation Disaster Relief Australia (DRA).

A new National Operations Centre has opened in the inner-Brisbane suburb of Hendra and will serve as the headquarters for DRA operations, including planning and coordination of nation-wide deployments and as a hub for volunteer training.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said the organisation was playing a growing role in national disaster recovery.

Minister Watt said the DRA united the skills and experiences of Australian Defence Force veterans, emergency responders and civilian volunteers to deploy Disaster Relief Teams domestically and around the globe.

“This is a big milestone for DRA in the national coordination and training of volunteers involved in disaster relief and recovery,” Minister Watt said.

He said the DRA would upscale its operations and on-board an additional 5200 volunteers by mid-2026.

“This addresses a critical need and provides the Australian, state, territory and local governments with access to a volunteer workforce skilled in incident management, damage and impact assessment, disaster mapping and debris management,” Minister Watt said.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Deputy Coordinator-General Emergency Management and Response Joe Buffone said the investment in the skilled volunteer workforce had already demonstrated its merit.

“The model of using an alternative capability to the Australian Defence Force was tested over the Higher Risk Weather Season, when we requested Disaster Relief Australia to deploy to parts of the country that had experienced significant impacts from bushfires, storms and cyclones,” Mr Buffone said.

“We had DRA teams in the Northern Territory, North Queensland and South East Queensland over January and February. Their work leading the recovery efforts after the storms in the Logan, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast councils areas was the first time non-ADF personnel were deployed by the Commonwealth as the primary non-financial disaster response.”

DRA Chief Executive Officer Geoff Evans said a base on the eastern seaboard strengthened the relationship with NEMA.

Mr Evans said Brisbane was chosen as the centre for national operations for its robust infrastructure, accessibility, resource availability and cost efficiency.

“Its strategic location near key transport hubs means Brisbane is well-positioned to efficiently respond to disasters across the eastern seaboard and inland areas and ensure quick deployment of resources as required.”