You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.


From dehydrated smoothies and breakfast bars, bean bolognaise or coconut and gingerchicken, the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre prides itself on creating a ration pack that excels in providing key nutrients and meets dietary requirements for an Australian Medical Assistance Team.

Food is the cornerstone of a successful deployment. However, flavour isn’t the only important factor in preparing an AUSMAT ration pack. The NCCTRC are proactive in contributing to sustainability efforts while on deployment at home and overseas. 

When considering food, alongside health and nutrition, the organisation’s environmental impact is of similar importance in remaining equipped, prepared and ready to respond.

The NCCTRC’s food cache is regularly restocked, rotated and assessed to ensure all stock is in date and fit for consumption.

NCCTRC Planning and Research Officer Inda Acharya has been instrumental in implementing processes over the past 10 years that ensure none of the food within the cache goes to waste.

“Waste management and mitigation is incredibly important in planning what food we stock in the cache and what is packed for team members on deployment,” she says.

“Aside from the fact that all our food is highly nutritious, all the food packaging and cutlery provided are recyclable or made of reusable materials.

“NCCTRC adheres to the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards, ensuring we meet regulations around best before dates and expiry of products, which we then take into consideration in how we purchase and use food most effectively.”

AUSMAT ration packs are prepared to feed an individual team member for a 72-hour period while the team embed themselves in a community post-disaster. Additionally, the teams are deployed with meal packs for patients and up to two family members while under the care of AUSMAT in deployable EMT field hospital.

If the team is likely to be in-country for a two-week or longer rotation, a full-scale camp kitchen in constructed so AUSMAT personnel can prepare hot, culturally appropriate meals on-site for the team and the patients under their care.

“At the end of a deployment, we ensure surplus food is donated to the local community that has been affected,” Mrs Acharya says.

“We recognise they are likely moving into a recovery phase and providing additional food or easy-to-prepare meals for those families who are rebuilding can be incredibly helpful.,

Beyond feeding the AUSMAT team and affected community while on deployment, between AUSMAT responses the NCCTRC food cache similarly feeds those who may be displaced or disadvantaged within the Darwin community. 

“It’s really important for our organisation in maintaining sustainable, ethical and environmental practice that we source all our food from local suppliers, and also donate food with a best before date within three to six months back into the local community,” Mrs Acharya says.

NCCTRC have been donating to Foodbank Northern Territory over the past eight years, regularly donating dried and dehydrated foods, including biscuits, nuts and some dehydrated meals.

“More recently we have been donating a selection of wet pack foods, which are easy to prepare and provide a very substantial meal to someone in need.” 

Foodbank Northern Territory Chief Executive Peter Chandler says the organisation relies on generous donations from Darwin’s corporate community.

“As the largest provider of food relief in the Northern Territory, Foodbank NT rely on the support of our generous donors in the Top End to get food relief to where it is needed the most,” he says.

“In the past several years, we have received non-perishable food donations from NCCTRC to help feed those in need in our community.

“It is a sad reality that thousands of Territorians are experiencing severe food insecurity each week – over one third of these are children – with the rising cost of living putting significant extra pressure on already struggling individuals and families.

“In the past 12 months alone, Foodbank have worked with 180 charities and schools in the Northern Territory 

and have helped to put more than one million meals on the table of Territorians that would have otherwise gone without.”

NCCTRC value the opportunity to contribute to the community locally through organisations such as Foodbank NT, and overseas when responding to a sudden onset disaster or health emergency. 

Identifying and implementing sustainability related initiatives that have a positive ripple effect across the community is a priority for the organisation.

“I feel on every level we are committed to supporting and involving the greater community where possible,” Mrs Acharya says.

“Giving back to the community is vital and is a core value for us and all the work we do at NCCTRC.”