Tropical Cyclone Winston

Tropical Cyclone Winston caused widespread damage in Fiji on 20-21 February 2016, and also affected some areas of Tonga on 17 February. It is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, causing 44 deaths and affecting more than two thirds of the population of Fiji (about 540,000 people).

Working closely with the Fiji Government, Australia provided $15 million in immediate assistance to Fiji to support over 200,000 men, women and children with relief supplies such as shelter, water, food, hygiene items, emergency health care and access to education. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) provided extensive support, deploying defence assets and personnel to Fiji. Australia is now assisting with the longer term recovery and reconstruction efforts and has committed $20 million to rebuild critical infrastructure and increase resilience to natural disasters.

Video: Australia’s humanitarian support to Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Winston

Australia's immediate assistance to Fiji

On 22 February 2016, the Australian Government announced an initial $5 million package of immediate assistance to provide lifesaving supplies and support for people affected by the disaster. A week later, on 29 February 2016, Australia committed a further $10 million. This support helped children return to school, ensured health services reached affected communities and prioritised the protection of vulnerable people. The ADF also provided support by delivering humanitarian assistance and repairing critical infrastructure.

Additional information about Australia's immediate response to Tropical Cyclone Winston

Recovery efforts

In addition to the $15 million in immediate assistance, Australia announced a $20 million package on 20 April to help with Fiji's longer term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

This assistance is aimed at returning life to normal in Fiji. It is being used to rebuild damaged or destroyed schools and health facilities, replace damaged medical equipment and restore water and sanitation services. It will also repair damaged markets, enabling farmers and market vendors to return to work. Please visit our recovery and reconstruction page for additional information.

Soldiers clearing debris from a building
Australian Defence Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel working together in Fiji to clear debris on Koro Island. Credit: Cameron Noble, DFAT.

Infographic: Australia's response to help Fiji recover from Tropical Cyclone Winston

Australia's response to help Fiji recover from Tropical Cyclone Winston
$35 million humanitarian assistance, comprising
- $5 million for immediate relief supplies and activities, including access to reproductive health services for over 1,000 women, improving food security, access to shelter including 18,033 tarpaulins, 7,160 shelter kits and 701 tents, access to water, sanitation and hygiene including 1,168,000 water purification tablets, 13,240 water buckets, 30 water tanks and 9,482 hygiene kits.
- $10 million early recovery including over 1,700 people treated by Australian Medical Assistance Teams, support to restore Fiji's cold chain system for vaccines, temporary learning spaces for almost 15,000 children and educational materials for 38,000 children, 60 Australian Government civilian personnel deployed, improving food security, essential medical equipment and supplies.
- $20 million recovery and reconstruction to 'build back better' schools destroyed by the cyclone, to replace damaged biomedical equipment, rebuild health facilities and restore community water and sanitation systems to prevent disease outbreaks, to strengthen agricultural livelihoods and women's economic empowerment by rebuilding destroyed marketplaces.
- Under ADF Operation Fiji Assist, P3 Orion aircraft conducted early surveillance assessments, 7 MRH-90 helicopters facilitated personnel and supply movements, 60 tonnes of emergency relief and humanitarian supplies were delivered by HMAS Canberra, 520 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and emergency relief were delivered by C-17 and C-130 aircraft, approximately 1,000 ADF personnel were deployed, ADF engineers assisted with early recovery through repairing schools, medical centres and critical infrastructure in affected communities.

View a larger version of this infographic

Public donations

Often the most effective way to support the relief effort in countries affected by disasters is by providing cash donations through organisations responding to the crisis. For those interested in making a donation to recovery efforts in Fiji, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has detailed information about making public donations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also supported a partnership between ABC Appeals and the Australian Red Cross to raise money for relief activities. Information about this appeal is on the ABC's website.

A group of people standing in front of a damaged building holding water containers
Residents of Kese Village on Naviti Island received Australian Government-funded water containers, hygiene kits and seeds through partners CARE Australia and Live & Learn. The village’s Methodist Church in the background was destroyed by the cyclone. Credit: CARE Australia.

Travel advice

Another way to help Fiji is to visit. Most of the country's resorts and hotels are operating as usual, and Fiji is welcoming tourists back.

Please visit the Smartraveller website for the latest Australian travel advice for Fiji.

More information

Follow @AusHumanitarian on Twitter and the Australian High Commission in Suva's Facebook page for more information about Australia's humanitarian response.

A DFAT official surveys damage to Koro Island
A DFAT official surveys damage to Koro Island, which was severely damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Credit: Cameron Noble, DFAT.
A man unloading an Australian Aid box from a truck
Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel unpack Australian humanitarian supplies, which were delivered to Fiji to provide immediate lifesaving support. Credit: DFAT.