Australian Government team monitors typhoon clean-up mission
11 December 2013
Australia’s assistance to the recovery of the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan is a team effort, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in close coordination with ADF personnel conducting clean-up tasks.
After the Recovery Support Force soldiers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment have cleaned up and repaired schools in the Ormoc region, a team of DFAT and ADF officers follow up with the Philippines education department and the local community to ensure they are happy with the work that has been completed.
Miss Katherine Lester, of DFAT, says the school clean-up mission has been a team effort between the Filipino Government, Australian Government, Australian civilian agencies, and the ADF.
“We have been working with the local government and the Army soldiers to rehabilitate the schools. We are coming around now to go to the schools to see the finished product and to hand them back over,” she said.
Miss Lester said that the school clean-up program was having far reaching effects beyond getting kids back to school.
“The students being in class has enabled the parents to focus on rehabilitating their own houses as well. Getting the students back into school also means they have shelter over their heads so it is minimising further health risks as well for them. So we are receiving really positive feedback from the schools about all of those varieties of outcomes,” she added.
Australian Army Civil Military Cooperation Officer Captain Shad Marsh said the school visits were about gauging what effect the Australian Government has been able to provide.
“The effect on the teachers and the school has been phenomenal …we are seeing attendance rates now up to seventy, 80 and even 90 per cent at the schools because of the work we have done,” Captain Marsh said.
During the inspection visits the team were thanked by school staff and children who presented cards and small gifts of appreciation.