RedR Australia: The Humanitarian Rock Stars of our Time

Last week we spent some time getting to know the wonderfully humble and insightful Professor Ron Johnston in an in-depth Q&A on his career and recently announced plans to appoint The Warren Centre as the key organisation to continue his legacy. To that effect, The Warren Centre plans to announce something truly special in the coming weeks that will push the boundaries like never before.

With any great initiative, there is power in numbers and that’s why we are ecstatic that RedR Australia have agreed to partner with The Warren Centre for this not-so-secret project. So let’s take the opportunity to get to know our newest friends of The Warren Centre, RedR Australia.

RedR Australia (RedR) is a leading international humanitarian response agency that selects, trains, and deploys technical experts to areas affected by disaster and conflict across the globe. RedR is a Standby Partner to 11 United Nations agencies or entities, as well as other front-line relief agencies and local governments. During a humanitarian crisis, a global network of Standby Partner organisations provide additional support to UN response efforts. RedR Australia is the only Standby Partner in the southern hemisphere.

RedR is also the sole delivery partner of the Australian Government funded civilian humanitarian deployment program, Australia Assists. This partnership allows RedR to deploy humanitarian specialists to work with governments, multilateral agencies and communities worldwide.

What does this all mean? RedR deploys skilled humanitarian personnel to disaster and conflict zones across the globe. Whether that be to implement water, sanitation and hygiene solutions in Jordan’s refugee camps, to ensuring women and children are protected in the Rohingya crisis, the contexts are broad-ranging. From supporting the food crisis in East Africa, to helping communities prepare for and respond to cyclones in the Pacific, RedR deploys people with the appropriate skills to assist and build the capacity of local communities.

Believed to be the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, an estimated 680,000 Rohingya refugees left their Myanmar homes in August 2017, escaping escalating violence in Rakhine State. They have since settled in the Cox’s Bazar settlement in Bangladesh, adding to an estimated 200,000 Rohingya already settled in the area. This influx has left approximately 900,000 displaced people inhabiting a space of just 12 square kilometres. In response to the Rohingya crisis, RedR Australia have had personnel on the ground since October 2017. In 2018, RedR deployed 42 humanitarian specialists to Cox’s Bazar, making it the largest humanitarian response in the organisation’s history.

This included Australia Assists deployee and civil engineer, Camilla Bachet, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cox’s Bazar, for a three-month deployment. In her role as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer, Camilla assisted in the design of a new water reservoir to store water for the people of the settlement throughout the Bangladeshi dry season and beyond. She supplemented this with the development of temporary dams, to assist in ensuring the people in the settlement have sufficient access to water year-round.

RedR selects, trains and deploys highly skilled people like Camilla to assist and build the capacity of global communities affected by crisis. But what if this response didn’t exist? How would these people’s lives be different? Would the lack of access to clean water and sanitation lead to needless loss of life and suffering for people who have already undergone such difficulty? Humanitarians can make a difference to these families at a time when they need it most.

“In an emergency, everything is important, but because water is so essential to life, it is a very interesting and rewarding field for me to work in,” Says Camilla. See more about Camilla’s deployment here:

We’ve spent a lot of time with the RedR Australia team lately, and we must admit, you can feel the dedication to humanitarian action and purpose from just being in the same room as them. They have a purpose – a reason for being on this Earth that is much greater than themselves. They are the humanitarian rock stars of our time. How infectious is that? The Warren Centre wants in, and that’s why we’ve announced the next events in the 2019 Prof Ron Johnston Humanitarian Innovation Awards Program!


This story is featured in the 1 March 2019 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.

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