Bushfires have continued to rage across eastern Australia since early October 2019, affecting eastern New South Wales (NSW), including the Greater Sydney Region and eastern Victoria. As of January 8, more than 6 million hectares (15 million acres) of land have been burned. More than 20 people have died and some are missing. Entire regions have been evacuated and nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed. The impact on people and communities is devastating.
Many Caterpillar customers, colleagues and employees live and work in the affected regions. The mining regions in particular ― where several of our largest customers operate ― are significantly impacted by the devastation. These mining companies are making large contributions to the Australian Red Cross to support emergency relief efforts. As their partner in the industry, Caterpillar joins them in this effort.
The Australian Red Cross has been providing vital support to individuals and communities affected, including psychological first aid and resources in both evacuation and recovery centers. To help with recovery, the Australian Red Cross is conducting outreach in affected communities through phone calls and home visits and participating in community meetings. The Australian Red Cross is also providing emergency grants for people who have lost homes. To date, The Australian Red Cross has registered over 30,000 people and taken more than 5,000 inquiries.
Caterpillar mining customers like BHP and Rio Tinto have pledged significant funding to support the efforts of the Australian Red Cross. The BHP Foundation will donate $2 million to the Red Cross and is also collecting funding from individuals through its website. Rio Tinto recently added to a previous donation and has pledged $1 million to the Red Cross efforts. The company is also providing employees involved in current volunteer firefighting efforts with full leave entitlements.
How Caterpillar Is Helping
The Caterpillar Foundation is a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). This program provides a funding base that allows the Red Cross to respond immediately to the needs of individuals and families impacted by disasters. This model has proven to be efficient and effective in immediately meeting disaster relief needs, ensuring the Red Cross has the funds to prepare for disasters before they occur.
The American Red Cross has a strong history of collaboration with the Australian Red Cross and has proactively reached out to them to determine ways it can provide support, whether through trained specialists, operations leadership and guidance, or financial assistance to support the response and material resources.
In addition, contributions made by Caterpillar employees, retirees and Cat dealer employees are eligible for matching by the Caterpillar Foundation.