The AHA Centre will be expected to play a crucial and pivotal role in facilitating ASEAN collective response beyond the Southeast Asian region, in particular to provide disaster assistance to non-ASEAN countries who are participating in East Asia Summit (EAS). This formed a key theme for discussion during the EAS International Disaster Assistance Workshop, held in Perth, Australia, from the 8th to the 10th of May 2018.

The workshop presented the participants with a scenario in which multiple disaster events strike Australia simultaneously. Despite the calculated low odds of the reality of such events occurring simultaneously, the scenario would severely stretch the existing disaster management system in Australia. Under this scenario, Australia will be forced to call for international assistance.

Participants engaged from different agencies within the Australian Federal Government, Local State Governments, as well as representatives from the ten ASEAN countries and other eight EAS participating countries (i.e. Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, United States and New Zealand) to discuss the potential ramifications of this scenario. Points included Australia’s mobilisation of its internal resources and facilitation of international assistance, including the one from ASEAN.

The Southeast Asian region continues establish its roles and responsibilities within the global context – including within disaster management. ASEAN Leaders are in the process of repositioning themselves as a region with the capacity to provide disaster-related assistance to other regions in the world if required. This ambition is clearly stated in the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response, signed by the ASEAN Leaders in September 2016. Therefore, the EAS workshop stands as a key initial step towards the goal of enabling ASEAN to respond collectively beyond the region. The AHA Centre, as the primary regional coordinating agency in disaster management, welcomed this opportunity to clarify the arrangements that must be in place to enable ASEAN in attaining the shared vision.

The workshop also represents the opportunity to partially test the EAS Disaster Response Toolkit developed by Australia and Indonesia in 2015. The Toolkit contains important information on how individual EAS participating countries may send and receive international assistance, as well as list of national focal points that could be contacted to arrange an offer of assistance. The workshop was co-hosted by Emergency Management Australia, the Government of Western Australia and the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency Authority (BNPB), in close collaboration with the AHA Centre.

Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo: Emergency Management Australia