My Story: Disaster Relief Australia

Through the recent tragedies in Australia, the Fitzroy Oxfam Group’s Disaster Relief Australia wiki has been connecting people in need with donors who want to help. It’s a truly inspirational undertaking. Wiki co-founder, Fitzroy Oxfam Group’s Brian Moran told us more about it:

When a disaster happens in Australia like the Victorian bush fires and the recent Queensland floods there is an immediate outpouring of generosity in the local community and an equally strong immediate need for practical assistance by those who are suffering.

Wiki has provided us with an instant way to connect both parties without the bureaucracy, time lag or bottlenecks. It’s so simple that I can’t believe others had not thought of using a Wiki community notice board concept to immediately connect these two parties in a crisis situation.

Within hours of the Victorian bush fires Craig Reardon from TheETeam, craig@theeteam.com.au , and I set up a Wiki site and emailed out a media release.

The media immediately picked up on the concept and we had 24,000 hits in a few days as this site offered immediate relief to thousands.

When the Red Cross, and other charitable organizations could not cope with the offers to help they immediately referred donors and sufferers to our Wiki site. The most telling call was from an Australian Government department Lawyer saying to me “we don’t know how you have done this so easily and quickly but your unique idea is working like a treat and solving so many of the logistical problems many of our departments are struggling with. Don’t quote my name or my department but we will give you all the support you need as your goods and services register is providing such a vital service.

So just click on www.wikifloods.com.au and see how simply it works.

Let’s say you are a generous soul on high ground in Brisbane and you have an empty caravan in your back yard that you want to loan to a sufferer for a few months. Log on to the site and list what you have to offer with your phone number and my guess is you will have got a phone call within minutes from someone needing it. You sort out the logistics of delivery between you both and an accommodation problem for a family is solved almost immediately. (On our Victorian bush fries site 4WD Club members listed their offer to move caravans within 100 km free of charge.)

It’s peer to peer, no bureaucracy, time lag or bottlenecks. Imagine the time, resources, paperwork and labour this above offer would have taken a charity/government department to sort out. In a digital age let’s have digital solution.

The site facilitated air drops of food and medicine by another generous soul offering use of his ultra-light. And it’s not just offers of goods, like furniture, bedding, and food but labor, stock agistment, transport and even professional services are listed as well. The site is beginning to empty out now and an empty site is a sign of great success to us!

We have spent many hours refining the concept and we know it works well so we are now ready to offer it as an essential tool in any crisis situation anywhere in the world.

Brian Moran OAM Chair Fitzroy Oxfam Group. briangum@tpg.com.au

Note
: Between the time that Brian sent me this post and I hit Publish, tragedy struck Christchurch, New Zealand. If you need help, would like to donate, or just want to learn more, go to http://disasterreliefnz.wikispaces.com/. —Carole

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