18th November 2016




Doncaster Woman Provides Hope to Palestinians

A Doncaster woman packs a flak jacket and takes an armoured car to work each day but it hasn’t stopped her going to some of the world’s hot spots to provide water and sanitation for some of the world’s most marginalised people.

Mechanical engineer Danielle Brunton returned from Gaza this month after spending more than three months deployed with international emergency response agency RedR Australia.

“Last year, I was in Khartoum (Sudan) and my family was stressed. This year, I was supposed to be based in Syria but that got cancelled due to security concerns so I think in comparison my family think that Gaza is better and they are relatively calm about it,” Danielle said.

RedR Australia deployed Danielle to Gaza in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in July to support UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene program repairing and rebuilding infrastructure destroyed during the 2014 war with Israel.

She has worked on rebuilding and upgrading storm water drainage to mitigate the risks of flooding during the rainy season and overseen a lot of work to repair and upgrade water and sanitation facilities at both the household and municipality levels.

“A lot of Gaza operates using septic tanks which leak into the shallow aquifer, causing contamination of the main water source. We tried to improve the situation by connecting more households to water treatment plants,” the mechanical engineer explained.

Danielle says working in West Australia’s mining industry helped prepare her to work in complex humanitarian emergencies.

“I used to run big maintenance and construction projects in WA. It was a remote environment and challenging. I was working with men and, as a young female, trying to get some respect.”

“I did this work with the intention of getting experience in difficult and remote environments as I knew it would help prepare me for working in difficult contexts doing the kind of work I do now.”

“The locations were so remote in WA that we had to create water, power and everything on site. It was a high pressure environment and I was always working to tight deadlines, running big teams of people doing big construction jobs,” she said.

So what prompts a successful young engineer to leave the leafy suburbs of Melbourne to work as a humanitarian and put herself at risk?

“I’ve wanted to be a humanitarian since I was 19 years old. I had just started studying engineering and couldn't find the motivation to go to class every day. I searched for something that would be my inspiration and I decided I wanted to use what I learnt to help people,” Danielle said

“I was never someone to do something in halves so I chose to help the people in greatest need; those who had suffered the most. It was clear to me that I would find those people affected by war. Since then, I have worked in a number of places trying to provide hope - or just some clean water - to people who have lost so much,” she said.

RedR Australia is a leading international emergency relief agency that provides surge support for United Nations agencies during natural disasters and conflict-induced crises. The agency currently has 27 experts in 20 countries responding to a range of emergencies including famine in Ethiopia and Malawi, the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, the hurricane in Haiti and the recovery following Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

RedR is a registered charity and receives funding support from the Australian and UK Governments and public donations.


For further information or to interview Danielle Brunton, please contact Katrina Peach:  03 8341 2666 / 0414 684 664 or email