Issue 10
Monday, 03 July 2017
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Course coordinator Adriana Stibral (left) barters with student Nyankiir Giir during a simulated disaster training exercise. Photo: Julianne Osborne
Course coordinator Adriana Stibral (left) barters with student Nyankiir Giir during a simulated disaster training exercise. Photo: Julianne Osborne

Humanitarian ‘crisis’ strikes campus

By Ellie Turner

Students are responding to an urgent call for humanitarian aid as a complex crisis involving a natural disaster, tribal group clashes and political unrest strikes in the developing country of “Sebedoh”.

The simulated emergency enables the 26 students to put theory into practice and gain hands-on experience, ending a unique three-week intensive unit as part of the Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies at Charles Darwin University.

CDU lecturer and course coordinator Adriana Stibral said this was the third year the intensive had been delivered in collaboration with humanitarian aid and training organisation RedR Australia as part of the CDU/RedR Alliance.

“The students work under pressure during a full-day simulation with the ultimate aim of providing food, shelter, medical assistance and protection for thousands of displaced people,” she said.

“They must problem-solve on the move.”

CDU student Nyankiir Giir fled her home in war-torn South Sudan as a child and spent almost 10 years living in refugee camps before she arrived in Australia.

“I am revisiting my time as a refugee during this unit,” Nyankiir said.

“It’s a positive experience because it will give me the skills I need to help others who are in bad situations.”

Students face issues including gaining permission to enter the country, logistics in moving life-saving supplies into disaster-affected areas, questions from the media and ensuring a well-coordinated, effective humanitarian aid response.

Ms Stibral said the intensive brought together students from around Australia and overseas as part of the second year of their undergraduate studies.

RedR Australia Senior Trainer Paula Fitzgerald said the exercise was an opportunity for students to gain insight into the complexities of humanitarian action by providing them with essential, first-hand practical experiences.

“It will give students an idea of what to expect when they arrive on the ground during a humanitarian emergency,” Ms Fitzgerald said. 

RedR Australia is an international emergency response agency that recruits, trains and deploys humanitarian staff to international crisis around the world. 

It currently has 21 people operating globally, mainly in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Pacific.