28 March, 2019

As you may know, thousands of ADRA volunteers, in partnership with the NSW State Government, have been providing assistance with accommodation arrangements during emergencies in NSW since 1975.

Providing accommodation to people in emergencies was only made possible by the commitment, dedication, and passion of these volunteers. They have given so generously of their time and efforts to show love and support to their community. ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough to convey our gratitude.

After careful consideration, ADRA has made the decision not to extend the arrangement with the NSW State Government to facilitate emergency accommodation. This means that as of 1 June 2019 this responsibility will be delivered by another agency.

We are disappointed and saddened by this decision because we want to help people in need and engage in our communities. And this arrangement was an opportunity to do that. However, the provision of emergency accommodation has been challenging. With the increasing risk and frequency of emergencies comes increasing pressure and demand. To meet the increasing demands of providing emergency accommodation, we continue to need more volunteers than we have been able to recruit and more funding than we have been able to receive from the Government. This has placed our aging volunteers under considerable strain and the agency under financial stress. It would be irresponsible for ADRA to continue to deliver emergency accommodation under the current circumstances. Our duty of care is first and foremost to our volunteers, and also to the people benefitting from the service. With ADRA not extending its arrangement with the Government, other agencies that are better placed in terms of volunteers and funding can assist in this area, ensuring people in emergencies continue to benefit from the service.

While we are stepping out of the Government accommodation role, we are not pulling out of the emergency management space. We want to work with interested local church representatives to create an approach that will meet the changing situation we now face in Australia. This will provide an opportunity for volunteers, such as yourself, to contribute to the development of plans to achieve this. If you would like to be part of this process, please let us know by emailing us on adraemadmin@adra.org.au.

FAQs: 

  1. When will the current arrangement end?

ADRA’s agreement with the NSW State Government will conclude on 31 May 2019.

  1. What does this mean for the current volunteers?
    Current ADRA volunteers will no longer be able to volunteer in this space under the ADRA name. However, if you would still like to volunteer with ADRA, please contact your local Conference ADRA Director to find out what volunteer opportunities are available near you:

   Greater Sydney Conference: Malcolm Rea, malcolmrea@adventist.org.au
North New South Wales Conference: David Haupt, davidhaupt@adventist.org.au
   South New South Wales Conference: Sarina Taituave, sarinataituave@adventist.org.au

  1. What will happen to the people needing accommodation during emergencies now that ADRA is no longer involved?
    We would not have made this decision if we weren’t confident that the people affected by emergencies will still have their needs met. It was with careful consideration that ADRA made the decision not to extend its arrangement with the NSW State Government to facilitate emergency accommodation. With ADRA not extending its arrangement with the Government, other agencies that are better placed in terms of volunteers and funding can assist in this area. The Government will now enter into a similar arrangement with another agency, and people benefitting from the service will continue to do so without any interruptions. The responsibility of facilitating emergency accommodation will be allocated to another agency that is better placed to respond in terms of volunteers and funding. The delivery of this service will not be affected by ADRA’s decision not to extend its arrangement with the Government.
  1. I am really disappointed by this decision. Who can I talk to about this?
    We are sorry that you feel disappointed. If you would like to speak with someone at ADRA, please call 1800 242 372 or email us at adraemadmin@adra.org.au. We will ensure that someone gets back in contact with you.
  1. How come we, as volunteers, didn’t know that ADRA was struggling to deliver this service and/or find more volunteers? I could have helped.
    By volunteering for ADRA, especially in this role, you were already providing us with the greatest service possible! We recognise that such a commitment takes a considerable investment of time and effort. Unfortunately, despite efforts to recruit more volunteers over the years, we were lacking human resources. Combined with financial stress, continuing in this space would be unwise.
  1. Why are we pulling out now with no clear direction forward?
    Timing played a key role in this decision. The time for ADRA to re-sign with the Government was approaching, which would have committed ADRA to the emergency accommodation role for another two years. This gave ADRA an opportunity to assess the role. Through this assessment, ADRA came to the conclusion that the best decision would be to exit this agreement as we didn’t think we would have the capacity to sustain and maintain the role for that length of time.
  1. So, if we are not helping in this way, what plans does ADRA have for my local church to help in our community during emergencies?
    If your local area is affected by an emergency and your church is in a position to help, ADRA has a disaster and emergency fund that you can apply for. We hope that your church will be able to use this funding to provide immediate help. To apply for emergency funding, please contact your local Conference ADRA Director (see question 2 for details). ADRA is also in the process of considering a longer-term plan for emergency response in Australia that will see us working closely with interested Adventist churches. We will be holding a series of consultation sessions to guide this longer term approach. In these sessions ADRA will be seeking to understand from the local church perspective how church members could best engage with and support their surrounding community during a disaster.
  1. I am interested in being involved in these consultation sessions. How can I be involved?
    If you would like to be a part of one of these sessions please send an email to adraemadmin@adra.org.au. Please include your name, contact number, and church name. ADRA’s immediate focus is on exiting the accommodation role. Once ADRA has completed its responsibilities with the NSW Government in the accommodation role, we will be in contact regarding these sessions.
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