Natural disaster response: first on the ground, last to leave
4 May 2015
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4 May 2015
Teams of Westpac volunteer employees flocked to areas affected by Cyclone Marcia in February 2015, towing large mobile BBQs to feed local people and support recovery operations.
During the past six months, the people of Westpac Group have again shown steadfastness in being first on the ground and last to leave in support of customers, our employees and communities affected by natural disasters. We’ve provided practical assistance to those affected by severe cyclones in Australia and Vanuatu, and continue to support the rebuilding efforts in Australia’s bushfire affected communities.
Nine months on from devastating bushfires in the Blue Mountains, NSW and Perth Hills, WA, we continued to support local communities in their recovery through the distribution of around $130,000 in grants from our Natural Disaster Recovery Fund to fund projects aimed at rebuilding and strengthening community resilience.
When Cyclones Marcia and Lam approached Far North Queensland and Northern Territory, our teams swung into action to help alleviate our customers’ concerns about their financial commitments so they could concentrate on more important issues at hand. BT Financial Group pre-emptively contacted insurance customers in the path of the cyclone to confirm they would be covered and offering support for the claims process, and we ensured the worst cases were dealt with as a priority. Westpac activated a relief package to banking customers, including offering deferred repayments on home loans and credit cards and emergency credit limit increase.
Dedicated teams of volunteer employees, dubbed the ‘Red Army’, also flocked to affected areas towing large mobile BBQs to feed local people and support recovery operations. In the next six months, the Group will make Natural Disaster Recovery Grants available to help with the rebuild of affected communities.
The devastating impact of Cyclone Pam was without precedent in Vanuatu. We have been committed to supporting the local communities, customers and our employees in that country. We donated $100,000 to the Vanuatu Red Cross to support disaster-affected regions with immediate needs such as food and clean water and launched an employee appeal to help affected colleagues in their recovery.
As a member of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, Westpac continued to advocate greater collaboration between all levels of government, business and community to make Australian communities safer and more resilient to natural disasters. Roundtable research has identified economic savings of up to $14.6 billion by 2050 through nationally co-ordinated mitigation investment, improved access to information and prioritised research.