Australia and ASEAN on May 19 signed Amendment No. 6 to the Cooperation Arrangement between two sides on the ASEAN Agreement for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER)’s 2010-2015 Work Programme to extend it until the end of 2016.

At the signing ceremony, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for Socio-Cultural Community Alicia Dela Rosa Bala spoke highly of Australia’s support for ASEAN Community building efforts, especially in the area of disaster management. This is one of the priority collaboration under the Plan of Action (POA) to implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership (2015-2019).

Australia has provided support for numerous priority projects such as capacity building for the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team, the establishment of the ASEAN Disaster Management Training Institutes Network as well as the operation of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).

Meanwhile, Australia's first resident Ambassador to ASEAN Simon Merrifield reiterated Australia’s commitment to reinforce its cooperation with ASEAN on disaster management.

He highlighted that Australia wants to use regional solutions to prepare and respond to disasters while underscoring that ASEAN has a crucial role in the region in this field.

On this occasion, the ambassador congratulated the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre for their strong and effective leadership, and for the significant support they have made to assist ASEAN Member States to improve their own response capabilities across the region.

Australia, which became ASEAN's first dialogue partner in 1974, was also one of the earliest partners to pledge its support for the implementation of the AADMER Work Programme at the AADMER Partnership Conference held in May 2010 in Makati City, the Philippines.

To date, Australia has given ASEAN a total assistance worth over 4.56 million AUD (3.64 million USD) for the regional calamity response.-VNA