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Sororum - Issue 4

Issue 4, Summer 2016

Welcome from the Chair

Generosity of time and spirit is what touches me most about you, especially as we welcome the New Year after a whirlwind and successful 2016.

You are incredibly busy, dynamic women, yet somehow you have donated countless, priceless hours of your personal and professional time, expertise, businesses and even your own families to support our philanthropic mission. You are here for each other while working together for others: fireside chats in your home, lunches in your boardroom, serving lunch to vulnerable migrant families, enjoying a unique fundraiser on a cruise ship while learning about maternal and child health, or simply supporting each other through the ups and downs in your personal and professional lives. That is the unique and precious aspect of our circle of women leaders. Our sisterhood offers a safe place to give what you can, when you can, through philanthropy as well as through friendship, and when you are flat out with work, family and the inevitable demands on your time, that's okay, too. No guilt. Only love, perspective and friendship. Your sisters are here for you when you are ready. Always.

Happy New Year to you and my heartfelt thanks for the special part you play in the fabric of Red Cross Society of Women Leaders.


Chair and Founding Patron

An interview with Monika Tu

Founder and Director of Black Diamondz Property Concierge, Monika Tu, shares her vision for the Red Cross Society of Women Leaders and work to be done in 2017 to encourage more business and professional women to become active philanthropists.

Adam: What is it about the Red Cross Society of Women Leaders that impresses you?

Monika: I am a businesswoman and all of the women in our group are very intelligent. When people get together we share some amazing ideas. So every get-together we try to work out how to help others, especially the women and the children. One thing that has really impressed me is that every cent goes to the people in need. I have been involved in a lot of charities but this is a charity I am absolutely passionate about.

Adam: How are you involved in the Red Cross Society of Women Leaders?

Monika: Not only am I a Founding Patron of the Red Cross Society of Women Leaders, my company Black Diamondz is heavily involved and is a corporate sponsor, and not so long ago we chose three of the beautiful ladies from our company and they have become Emerging Leaders. A few weeks ago these ladies raised $50,000 for a project we have in Indonesia and I am so proud of them.

Adam: What are you looking forward to most for the Red Cross Society of Women Leaders?

Monika: 2017 is going to be an extremely exciting year for me and for my company. We try to use our influence in the Chinese community to get more people involved to donate more money and help more people.

One thing I have learned from being part of this group is that it's not [just about ] how much we give, it's how much we get. I am influenced hugely by all these amazing big-hearted women and how much time and effort they give back to our Society [of Women Leaders]. I think it's a blessing for me and my company.

Next year is a big year and let's work together and work hard to get as many people to know about our organisation.

To watch the complete interview, click on the video above.

Young Parents Program graduates' pride in achievements

Play and pride were the two Ps young parents championed at this year's Young Parents Program Recognition Ceremony, held at Randwick, Sydney, this month.

Volunteers, staff and supporters, along with Red Cross Society of Women Leaders Members attended the ceremony to hear the challenges overcome and hard won triumphs of the Randwick, Gosford and Nowra Young Parents Program participants.

Among the many achievements, including the birth of new babies, were completed studies, new jobs, drivers licences and the safe and supported transition to living independently.

Participants of the program were inspired by a former graduate who announced her completed studies and family life were a result of having been supported by the Young Parents Program and receiving the guidance to persevere and make positive, life-changing decisions.

"Take baby steps," she reminded participants as they embarked on their own journeys to re-enrol in study or start a new job. "Follow your heart and your passion."

For new parents, however, the greatest triumph of 2016 was the delight of watching their children play, grow and develop.

"Every participant noted their parenting skills had improved and that watching their baby reach development milestones were by far the greatest achievements in their lives," Senior National Philanthropy Executive and Founding Patron of Society of Women Leaders, Anita Pahor said.

"It's a timely reminder, at this time of year, that it does take a village to successfully raise a child," Anita said.

"Many of us in our giving circle have the good fortune of a strong and supportive village of mothers, sisters and aunties alongside us as we raise the next generation. Not everyone has this kind of support, and programs like Young Parents nurture and guide so children can have the best possible start in life, often after difficult circumstances have been thrown at them."

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders contributed $162,000 to the Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program in 2015-16 and has contributed more than $300,000, to date.

Australian Red Cross field trip meets Indonesian mothers and children


The province of Nusa Tenggara Timur sits as a collection of islands in a region of Indonesia, alongside Timor Leste.

The region is known for extreme weather and hot winds off the Australian continent and each land mass is an exposed series of mountains and volcanoes.

The coastlines that ring each of the 500-plus islands are thick with mangroves and coral reefs. Inland, the dry lands are marked with semi-arid grasses and savannah. Rainfall is limited, some of the islands not recording any rain, year on year. At other times, flooding causes landslips and can displace whole communities.

Food production is difficult and communities on habitable islands survive on limited diets that lack nutritional variety. There's also a lack of clean drinking water and, combined with poor sanitation, hard-to-reach health facilities and high incidences of mosquito-borne disease, child and maternal mortality rates are high.

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders has committed to fund maternal and child health programs in this part of Indonesia, contributing $480,000 over three years to June 2019.

"Red Cross Society of Women Leaders is contributing to improve maternal and child health in this region," Chair and Founding Patron Kimberly Gire said.

"It's an important project that will have a positive impact on the lives of women and children for generations to come," she said.

Australian Red Cross travelled to the region in December to document the commencement of the work funded by Red Cross Society of Women Leaders. (The image above is a special sneak peek taken by Zayne D'Cruz of a birth that happened in the community while the Australian Red Cross team was there.)

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders' contribution to programs of Australian Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI) started in July. It builds on existing work in the region to assist local communities prepare for frequent natural disasters and become more resilient to their impact.

Iranian refugee gives back to local community

Tara was greeted by two Australian Red Cross staff members at Adelaide airport seven months after fleeing Iran. She never guessed one day she'd be working alongside them to introduce new migrants to the community she now calls home.

By Briana Carroll

Briana: Tara, what does community mean to you?

Tara: To me 'community' is a place of belonging, support and safety. It's people living together creatively and humanely in all their similarities and differences.

Briana: What difference does it make to an asylum seeker or refugee to be welcomed into the community?

Tara: I believe it would make a huge difference in their life, especially in their future career. Many asylum seekers have very strong desire to make positive contribution to our Australian society because they have been welcomed to this country and they feel that they owe something and have to give back so do I.

After feeling persecution in Iran, Tara's family - her husband and three children - arrived in Adelaide.

Australian Red Cross helped the trio settle into their new community and now, Tara is volunteering with Australian Red Cross' Migrant Support Program to help people rebuilding their lives in a new and strange place.

Briana: Why is it important to you to volunteer and give back to your new community?

Tara: I think volunteering is a humanitarian practice. People donate their time and skills. The benefits of being a volunteer are [two] sided. The receiver gets direct benefits from the services, attention, support or whatever, and the volunteer gets the benefit of living in a safe and strong community where people are happy and healthy. Happy and healthy means safe and secure.

Tara has been so inspired by the work of Australian Red Cross she wants to study social work and is improving her English to embark on the course work.

Briana: Why do you want to study social work? What do hope to do with it?

Tara: I was inspired and impressed by my former Red Cross caseworker and I decided to be one of them. I asked my case worker, what shall I study to become a caseworker like you? She laughed at me and said first English and then you need to study social work. I chose social work because it would lead me to my biggest dream to become a professional social worker who would mainly work for refugees and migrants.

In 2015-16, Red Cross Society of Women Leaders contributed $40,000 to the Australian Red Cross Migrant Support Program to support women like Tara rebuild their lives in Australian communities. An additional $3,300 has allowed families to celebrate the 2016 year in NSW this month.

Read more of Tara's story here >>

Share Year in Review with like-minded women

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders has published its inaugural Year in Review 2015-2016. The publication heralds the impact of Member commitment to the work of Australian Red Cross, in particular the work that empowers girls and women and drives positive outcomes for their futures.

Print copies are available should you wish to have copies on hand to give to like-minded women who are interested in becoming a Member. Please contact Anita Pahor on 0457 528 316 or to arrange delivery.

Stay up to date with our exclusive app


Red Cross Society of Women Leaders has been putting the recently launched Member app to good use.

The app has helped Members connect with our giving circle of women philanthropists and share important information about the empowering programs and projects Members support.

The app is kept up to date with event information and is the simplest way to know what we are planning and how you can connect with engaging, dynamic women of diverse professional and personal backgrounds.

As a Member, if you don't yet have the app downloaded on your phone, let Anita know and she will arrange for you to be invited to use the exclusive Red Cross Society of Women Leaders app. Phone Anita on 0457 528 316 or email her at

Upcoming events

As usual, our Events sub-committee is busy preparing an informative and fun event series for 2017. Don't miss out!

16 February 2017, Sydney Steering Committee Members: Strategy Meeting and Working Lunch, 10am - 2pm, Sydney

7 March 2017, Welcome to the new year Cocktails, Melbourne
Please save the date for our first Melbourne cocktail event of the year, graciously hosted by Founding Patron Maryjane Crabtree on the beautiful rooftop of her private residence.

8 March 2017, Welcome to the new year Cocktails, Sydney
With thanks to Founding Patron, Kerry Johnston we will gather at her beautiful private residence in Hunters Hill to cast the vision for our philanthropy in 2017 and celebrate International Women's Day. Please save the date!

All Members are welcome to bring a fellow philanthropically minded/hearted female friend who is interested in joining our unique giving circle along to our new year Cocktail events. Special humanitarian guest to be announced in the invitations to follow.

Member Connections

Next generation sees value of humanitarian work at Migrant Support event

This year's Migrant support Christmas Party was held at Burwood on Friday, December 16.

Despite heavy rain, many of the families arrived with their children to enjoy organised activities and entertainment.

Over the past few years our Red Cross Society of Women Leaders has supported the end of year celebrations by providing lunch for families accessing Australian Red Cross' NSW Migrant Support programs.

This year Red Cross Society of Women Leaders members brought along their children who helped to serve the food alongside their mothers, a great way for them to begin to understand more about what Australian Red Cross does and how our network rolls up its collective sleeves in support of important humanitarian work.

We thank member Pamela and her son Duncan, Founding Patron Anne and daughter Isobel, member Ali and her daughter Edie and member Row, all of whom stood in the rain to lend a helping hand on the day. Your enthusiasm and care of the clients was appreciated and it was wonderful to see you all involved and part of an important day.

JBWere welcomes women leaders for final Melbourne Boardroom Series Luncheon of 2016

The final event in the Melbourne calendar for 2016 was a Boardroom Series Luncheon kindly hosted by Society of Women Leaders Member, Kate O'Callaghan at the offices of JBWere.

A generous turn out of Melbourne Members were joined by guests and Australian Red Cross representatives to hear Penny Harrison, Director of Australian Red Cross in Victoria, present to us about some of the inequalities that exist within Victoria and how poverty has an inter-generational cycle and impact.

A recent OECD report in it together - why less inequality benefits all (2015) has highlighted a growing trend towards inequality in Australia, using 2013 data we are the 11th most unequal of the 34 OECD countries. The importance of such a concerning revelation must be viewed with the knowledge that an increasingly unequal society promotes depression of the economy as a whole so that the impact is felt not just by those who are experiencing disadvantage but by the entire populace.

Penny challenged our thinking on children in Victorian households with the shocking statistic that the number of children in "out of home" care is larger now than during the days of the stolen generation and significantly increased since the 2008 Apology by then Prime Minster Kevin Rudd . Finding a way to help these children recover from the instability of their youth is paramount and must be achieved through giving and supporting cultural knowledge and safety, security of housing and access to education.

On a more uplifting note, in Port Phillip Prison, Australian Red Cross has been allowed to set up a child friendly zone within the prison which is open 3 days a week and run by volunteers. It is hoped that by providing such an area, more children will be brought to the prison for visitations which hopefully leads to strengthened relationships within families. The project is in its very early stages but anecdotal evidence received so far is very positive.

Penny's presentation reminded us that some of the most challenging issues for Australian Red Cross exist no further afield than on our front doorstep.

Our newest Founding Patron, Maryjane Crabtree, was presented with her 5 year charm by Anita Pahor who thanked Maryjane for her multi year pledge which allows our giving circle to support multi year programs like the Eastern Indonesia health and nutrition program.

We thank all of our Melbourne Members for another wonderful year of friendship, philanthropy and impact and we look forward to rolling out an informative and fun events calendar in 2017!

End of year celebration for women leaders and some very special gentlemen

The evening of Saturday, December 3 saw more than 30 Society of Women Leaders members, many with their partners, celebrate the holiday season with a party onsuper yacht Vegas.

The generosity of Larry Kestelman guaranteed an incredible night of nights from the time we departed Campbell's Cove and cruised Sydney Harbour in stylish "barefoot glamour".

The time to celebrate new and growing friendships, as well as welcome our most recent members, was enjoyed by all, as was a moment to reflect on the year's achievements, most notably the start of our new initiative in Nusa Tengarra Timor, Indonesia.

We acknowledged the wonderful group of volunteers from Australian Red Cross, who willingly give their time to ensure events run smoothly, and welcomed the Emerging Leaders who have already made such a significant contribution to our humanitarian efforts through their recent fundraiser on board MS Maasdam, raising $50,000.

The presence of Kimberly Gire, who was in Geneva working with Red Cross on a pro bono basis, was missed but the flawless Anita Pahor effortlessly slipped into her role.

The perfectly calm and mild Sydney weather ensured smooth sailing and the ideal conditions for a celebratory atmosphere.

Thanks goes to those who took time out of busy lives to celebrate with us. Thank you most especially to Anita and Larry for facilitating and organising such a magnificent event. As we said on the night, here's to friendship and philanthropy… a powerful combination.

Emerging Leaders raise $50,000 for health program

Women-led philanthropy is in good hands with Red Cross Society of Women Leaders mentoring 10 young women from Blackmores, MinterEllison and Black Diamondz through its newly launched Emerging Leaders pilot program, and steering them to host a successful event on Sydney Harbour last month. The group raised more than $50,000 through ticket sales and an auction, and hosted 155 people including Members and their guests.

Read more

Behind the scenes visit to Sydney Dance Company

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders were guests of Sydney Dance Company on 21 September to enjoy an exclusive and special behind the scenes viewing of one of the rehearsals for the company's performance, Untamed. Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela shared tales of the inspiration behind Untamed including what influenced his own choreographic choices.

Read more

Boardroom Series Luncheon, Sydney


On 20 October, more than 40 Red Cross Society of Women Leaders and their guests gathered at NAB Private on George St, Sydney, thanks to our dear friend and supporter Josh Penn. Guest speaker Australian Red Cross Director International Program Peter Walton updated us on our most recent philanthropy project to increase health outcomes for women and children in Eastern Indonesia.

Read more

Red Cross Society of Women Leaders took the opportunity to complete the The Blackmore's Running Festival Bridge Run on 18 September. Members stopped their 'run' in the middle of Sydney Harbour Bridge to add a little interest to the event, lying on the road surface and making the action of creating a 'snow angel' to raise awareness for the humanitarian work of Australian Red Cross.

Read more