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Alice Springs Open Day

Speech by Michael Legge - President, Australian Red Cross

Wednesday 5 March, 2014

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Arrente people, traditional owners of this land, past and present.

A very warm welcome to Red Cross members, volunteers, staff, and all our supporters who have taken the time to be here this afternoon. Thank you very much for joining us on this special occasion, especially those who have travelled a long way.

I'm from Tasmania, but wherever Red Cross people are making a difference in their local communities around the country, I feel at home.

In 2014 we are proudly celebrating the Centenary of Red Cross in Australia - 100 years of people helping people, and we are thanking generations of Australians for their service to the nation.

Alice Springs is very much part of this great Australian story. Across the country, our legacy was forged by the voluntary service of millions of people to care for others in need. People just like many of you have provided compassion, support and action during wars, disasters and times of national and personal crisis, and you have helped earn Red Cross the trusted reputation we enjoy today.

Here in the Northern Territory, from tending to the wounded during World War Two to helping with the evacuation of residents after the devastation of Cyclone Tracy, people just like you have been there.

Today, there are over one million Red Cross volunteers, members, staff, donors, aid workers and supporters reaching right across Australia and further afield, operating in 1,250 locations in every state and territory.

Around Australia, more than 30,000 people volunteer with Red Cross in all kinds of ways. From making a daily phone call to an isolated elderly person, to helping a migrant family settle into a new life to reaching out to a community recovering from disaster, to supporting young families in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Red Cross volunteers and supporters are there for anyone who needs a hand, no matter who they are, no matter where they live.

Our work would not be possible without the spirit of volunteerism and everyday acts of humanity. It is this spirit, as strong today as it was 100 years ago, that we are celebrating throughout our Centenary year.

And today in Alice Springs we celebrate your contributions, whether you have donated your time and services to assist with one of our many programs, made a financial contribution, donated blood, or helped with community fundraising. We thank you.

We are immensely grateful to all of our supporters- past and present- for your ongoing support, commitment and belief in the power of humanity. Without you, we could not continue our vital work.

One of the ways we are acknowledging our supporters this year, is by asking Australians from all corners of the country to share their connection to Red Cross. Hundreds of people have uploaded personal stories, photos and accounts of how Red Cross has touched lives.

It's inspiring to see a range of voices and watch this great Australian story unfold. I encourage you to share your story too, here today or on our website.

We are a national icon, woven into the fabric of Australian life. We remain as relevant today as we were 100 years ago, and we are set to continue to play a vital role in our nation's future.

Red Cross has a network with unparalleled reach. Our skilled staff can mobilise volunteers and resources to target the most disadvantaged communities in Australia and overseas, wherever they are, to break the cycle of disadvantage and reduce vulnerability.

Our size, experience and expertise, and our commitment to work together with communities and partners over the long term, is what sets us apart today and into the future.

Throughout 2014 we will both celebrate our past and also look to the future. We are reaching out to young people, to a new generation of Australians, to help us shape the future of Red Cross for the next 100 years.

Thank you to all our supporters for all that you do. We continue to rely on the generous support of the public to continue our vital everyday work in communities. To be sure we are ready to respond when disaster strikes. To be ready to help whoever is in need, wherever they are.

We rely on those donations to support people in their most vulnerable times, in the most disadvantaged places across Australia and further afield.

Yes, we are the world's largest humanitarian organisation, but at the heart there is something very simple which will take us into the future. In a crisis big or small, a simple act of humanity changes lives.

You can view a great video presentation, to see the power of humanity in action.

Here's to another 100 years of people helping people!

Thank you.