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Humanitarian policy and partnerships

Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT)

Humanitarian response

Australia deploys doctors, nurses, paramedics and logisticians to provide people with life-saving medical care following disasters in our region.

These Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) are drawn from state and territory health services to deploy at short notice.

AUSMAT sizes change depending on the scale of the disaster, ranging from a small team of four people to a field hospital with 80 staff.

The Australian Government has deployed AUSMAT specialists to many humanitarian disasters, including:

  • COVID-19 outbreaks in countries including Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Timor-Leste and Kiribati from 2020-22
  • severe flooding in Timor-Leste in 2021
  • the measles outbreak in Samoa in 2019
  • the MV Solomon Trader oil spill in 2019
  • the Thailand cave rescue in 2018
  • the Southern Highlands earthquake in Papua New Guinea in 2018
  • to Fiji, in response to Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.
Group of medical professionals working on patients
AUSMAT medics work alongside the Fijian medical services in mobile clinics following Cyclone Winston in 2016. Credit: AUSMAT

Strengthening local health systems

Australia also helps strengthen the health systems of countries in our region by providing training through the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC), based in Darwin. The NCCTRC provides training and mentoring throughout the Indo-Pacific for local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, to help them respond to emergencies.

Paramedic working on a dummy in front of students
Australian paramedic Jon Moores training colleagues at the Timor-Leste Ambulance Service in April 2017. Credit: Juno Eadie

People working on a map of a town or city.
Instructors Malcolm Leek (Australia) and Shanistika Shivalni (Fiji) play out a disaster emergency scenario during the Major Incident Medical Management Support (MIMMS) training in Bali in May 2017. Credit: Juno Eadie

Strengthening international health systems

AUSMAT is one of the few World Health Organisation (WHO) globally-verified Emergency Medical Teams. AUSMAT members are leading contributors to WHO activities to establish global standards on medical assistance during disasters.

Room with medical beds and other equipment
The inside of a mobile field hospital set up for the WHO EMT verification process in Darwin in 2016. Credit: NCCTRC.
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