Thursday 19 December 2013
It is an honour and privilege to be the CEO of Australian Red Cross at this time as we prepare to celebrate 100 years of service to the Australian community.
A pivotal milestone in our history, our Centenary year is a story about the extraordinary generosity and compassion of everyday Australians, and an opportunity to thank the millions of people who have supported our humanitarian work so generously over the past century.
Our strength today remains our people.
This year around one million Australians (including over 500,000 blood donors) committed their time, expertise, funds and support to Red Cross to help vulnerable people, families and communities. We now have over 116,000 regular donors whose ongoing support we rely on to carry out our vital work. They are people like you whose care and commitment makes a positive, lasting impact everyday.
The Red Cross community reaches out right across the country. From responding to large scale disasters to helping vulnerable children and supporting families facing personal crisis, the generosity of our members, volunteers and donors means Red Cross is always ready to help.
It's been a year of great achievement.
We helped families to recover after fires raged across Tasmania in January, and again in October when bushfire season came early for NSW. We've supported Queenslanders dealing with the devastation of floods. We launched the Typhoon Haiyan Appeal to support the Philippines Red Cross response to the devastation wreaked on so much of the country, and have sent 25 aid workers to assist with the relief effort. We remain committed to the Syria Crisis Appeal which, tragically, is still urgent as the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.
In November we welcomed over 1,000 Red Cross delegates from more than 180 countries to Sydney for a week of international meetings. Now in its 150th year, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has millions of members and volunteers operating in almost every country around the world, guided by our common principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.
There are still many hundreds of thousands of Australians who each year experience marginalisation or serious disadvantage, including difficulty accessing enough food, shelter or an adequate income to sustain their most basic needs. Our everyday work to support these vulnerable people and communities has gone from strength to strength.
Dedicated volunteers work with thousands of families across the country to break the cycle of disadvantage from peer support, mentoring and parenting programs to kids breakfast clubs. We run dozens more community based programs to support people facing loneliness, social isolation, mental health issues and homelessness. Our work focusses on prevention, early intervention and building stronger communities for a lasting impact.
As part of our increased focus on partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we published the first Red Cross Reconciliation Action Plan Together as Partners. We also published our first annual Vulnerability Report, which this year told the personal stories of refugees and asylum seekers, who remain among the most vulnerable people in our community.
Our overseas programs are also flourishing. This year we sent 93 highly specialised and skilled aid workers overseas on 126 missions in 44 countries, to work in areas such as health, disaster management, shelter, water and sanitation and logistics. Through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, partly run by Red Cross, we sent a further 128 volunteers overseas, mostly to Asia as well as Africa and the Pacific.
Our vision for 2014 is to celebrate 100 years of inspiring contributions by Red Cross people to the fabric of Australian society, and to inspire the next generation of humanitarians to bring their energy and compassion to our cause.
Volunteers, members, donors and other supporters are our lifeblood and we need more compassionate people like you to support our vital everyday humanitarian work and shape our future through mobilising the power of humanity.
I look forward to working with you to grow the Red Cross community next year.
CEO Australian Red Cross
Photo: More than 200 Red Cross youth leaders came from all parts of the world, many from places hard-hit by conflict and natural disaster, for the two-day 2013 Global Youth Conference held in Sydney in November.