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New service reuniting families following disasters



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Mr Michael Keenan MP Minister for Justice

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

NEW SERVICE REUNITING FAMILIES FOLLOWING DISASTERS

Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, and the CEO of Australian Red Cross, Robert Tickner, today launched a new service to reunite family and friends following catastrophic disasters.

“Register. Find. Reunite. is Australia’s new registration service that reconnects people affected by natural disasters with their families and loved ones,” Mr Keenan said.

The service allows people affected by a disaster to register, which then immediately informs their family and friends of their location and wellbeing.

“Survivors of catastrophic disasters may get away with nothing more than the shirt on their backs.”

“This new system will help to reunite these people with their families and friends, which offers comfort and relief during an often stressful and devastating time,” Mr Keenan said.

Mr Tickner of the Australian Red Cross said that last summer the organisation had registered more than 5,000 people who were forced to evacuate due to natural disasters. Red Cross volunteers also responded to thousands of inquiries from friends and relatives across Australia seeking news of their loved ones.

“Red Cross has been reconnecting friends, families and loved ones separated by a disaster since Cyclone Tracy in 1974, where handwritten cards were first used to register survivors,” Mr Tickner said.

“This new service is an exciting step forward in the provision of such an essential service following a disaster.”

Under the new service, survivors can register electronically and in person at an evacuation or relief centre. Staff and volunteers in call centres take enquires from people about their loved ones who can't be reached.

The new system also allows people to register themselves, and family and friends to search for them, via the Australian Red Cross website. The site is accessible from smartphone and tablet devices.

The Federal Government has invested over $1.5 million towards this project through the National Emergency Management Projects (NEMP) funding scheme. The new system was developed after a number of major disasters highlighted the need for existing registration systems to be updated to better reflect changing needs and to more effectively utilise advancing technology.

Register. Find. Reunite. can be accessed via the Australian Red Cross Website during emergencies.

Media contact: Hannah Weir - 0417 862 688