Immediate support to Fiji
The Australian Government worked closely with the Fiji Government to provide immediate assistance to over 200,000 men, women and children. This included relief supplies such as shelter, water, food, and hygiene items, and access to education and emergency health care.
This support was complemented by emergency grants through Australia's existing bilateral program partners. These grants supported activities such as school feeding programs to encourage children to go back to school and supplied vegetable seeds to over 26,000 people to complement other foods sources.
Support for children
The cyclone damaged or destroyed almost 500 schools. Australia responded by helping the Fiji Government to assist children get back to school as quickly as possible.
Australia worked with Fiji's Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Save the Children to:
- create temporary learning spaces for almost 15,000 children
- provide educational materials for 38,000 children
- restore water and sanitation facilities in schools
- provide psychological support to teachers and children, and
- support school feeding programs for the most affected communities.
Australia worked with Fiji's Ministry of Health and Medical Services to ensure that essential health services reached affected communities. Australia deployed a 21-person Australian Medical Assistance Team to Fiji that provided emergency health care to over 1,700 people in rural and remote communities. Australia helped establish temporary health care facilities in areas where clinics were destroyed, and helped re-establish cold-chain vaccination storage facilities that enabled important vaccines to reach affected communities.
Protecting the vulnerable
Protecting the rights and dignity of people affected by a crisis is an essential component of Australia's humanitarian work. Australian-funded clean delivery kits, which enable health facilities to safely deliver babies even when clean water and electricity is unavailable, were distributed in Fiji within 48 hours of the disaster.
Australia, through partners United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Medical Services Pacific, distributed reproductive health kits, 4,000 dignity kits and helped health outreach teams provide services to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Australia supported the establishment of the "Women Friendly Spaces" initiative, which helped women access information and services related to gender-based violence, health care and psychological support. This helped almost 2,000 women and girls in the three months following the cyclone.
Australia also assisted in topping up the Fiji Government's social protection payments to help ensure 72,000 people dependent on social welfare could buy food. To assist people with disabilities affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston, Australia helped the Spinal Injuries Association undertake a needs assessment, replace or repair assistive devices damaged or lost due to the cyclone and provide much-needed consumables.
Australian deployments to Fiji
Australian Government officials
Australian Government personnel were deployed to help within two days of Tropical Cyclone Winston. About 60 members of DFAT's Crisis Response Team were sent to Fiji and DFAT activated its Crisis Centre in Canberra.
Two Australian Civilian Corps specialists also worked alongside experts in Fiji's National Disaster Management Office to help manage response efforts.
Medical Assistance Team
The 21-person Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) was in Fiji for over three weeks, providing rural and remote medical outreach. The team provided much-needed care for more than 1,700 people in Rakiraki, Ovalau, Ba, Korovou and surrounding villages.
Operation Fiji Assist
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) provided extensive support to Australia's humanitarian activities through Operation Fiji Assist. ADF support included:
- deploying approximately 1000 personnel to Fiji
- aerial assessments by surveillance aircraft
- seven MRH-90 helicopters to assist with response efforts and deliver humanitarian stores, and
- C-17 and C-130 flights that delivered over 520 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and equipment.
The ADF's HMAS Canberra was also deployed to Fiji loaded with engineering assets, helicopters, water purification equipment and humanitarian supplies. It was positioned off Koro Island, where ADF engineers helped to repair schools, medical centres and infrastructure.
The ADF formally concluded its mission on 19 April, coinciding with the end of the Fiji Government's State of Natural Disaster.
Recovery and reconstruction
On 20 April 2016, Australia announced an additional package of $20 million to support longer term recovery and reconstruction efforts following Tropical Cyclone Winston. This funding is focused on returning life to normal in Fiji by rebuilding critical infrastructure.
Australia is helping the Fiji Government to rebuild schools and health facilities destroyed by the cyclone, replace damaged medical equipment and restore water and sanitation services. Australia is also repairing damaged markets and building accommodation facilities for women vendors to enable farmers and vendors to return to work. These buildings are being built to be more resilient to future natural disasters.
Australia has also invested in early recovery initiatives, including rehabilitating community water and sanitation systems, helping communities to build homes that are safer and more resilient to disasters and supporting livelihoods through cash-for-work programs and distributing farming supplies.
Energy sector partnership
Tropical Cyclone Winston damaged more than 4,500 power poles and affected up to 90 per cent of Fiji's power network. Following a request from the Fiji Government, the Australian Government partnered with the peak body of the Australian energy industry, Energy Networks Australia, to increase the speed of restoration work to Fiji's power network by an estimated 25 per cent.
Australia's energy sector has provided supplies and vehicles [PDF 140 KB] including three crane borers, three elevated work platforms and a service truck to Fiji. This equipment is valued at $10 million.