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From Australians for Australians - Red Cross providing aid to local people every day

Friday March 4, 2005

As Australian Red Cross continues to urge all Australians to donate to Red Cross Calling, it is asking all communities to reflect on the work that the world's largest humanitarian organisation is doing right here, in our own back yard.

'While the work of Australian Red Cross at international disasters is well recognised and supported, we want people to know about the important contribution Red Cross makes to the lives of thousands of vulnerable Australians each and every day', said Beryl Raufer, acting Secretary General (CEO) of Australian Red Cross.

Australian Red Cross delivers over 60 support services and programs to vulnerable community members of all ages living in Australia. These Include:

The Good Start Breakfast Club
The Good Start Breakfast Club is a community program run by Australian Red Cross in partnership with Sanitarium. Every day of the school year Red Cross volunteers serve a nutritious breakfast of cereal, toast, juice and fruit to primary schoolchildren who may otherwise go hungry. Good Start Breakfast Club is more than just food: it also includes education initiatives that seek to establish overall healthy nutrition and eating practices for children and the wider community.

'Many health and nutrition studies have linked the onset of childhood obesity, concentration problems and learning difficulties to young people skipping breakfast', Ms Raufer said.

'Couple this with findings from the University of Sydney that over 40 per cent of Australian school children miss breakfast, and we have a serious challenge for the future wellbeing of many young Australians', she said.

Australian Red Cross' Telecross program, which is a daily reassurance phone call to isolated, aged, or vulnerable people, can now say that it involves, quite literally, thousands of dedicated volunteers, making more than one million phone calls every year. It gives peace of mind to clients, their carers and families, seven days a week, every day of the year.

'Many people who we call are elderly, frail and vulnerable. Telecross volunteers are focused on giving them a reason to be happy and stay positive', Ms Raufer said.

'I have heard stories of Telecross volunteers making calls and telling jokes just so their clients start the day with a laugh. It makes such a difference to these people - as you can imagine a special bond between volunteer and service recipient develops over time that both really cherish', she said.

Patient Transport
The Patient Transport Service provided by the Australian Red Cross transfers sick, elderly or isolated people to and from essential and potentially lifesaving medical appointments. Each year, thousands of clients undertake tens of thousands of trips, covering millions of kilometres.

'Our Patient Transport service takes a great deal of pressure from families and friends knowing their loved ones are receiving the appropriate medical treatment when needed', said Ms Raufer.

'Time demands and work pressures often mean that for many people, finding half a day to take a family member to a regular medical appointment becomes very straining, and the use of taxis can place a family under a great financial burden', she said. 'So not only does the service potentially save lives, it also provides practical assistance to families in need.'

Help support these and other vital community services by donating to Red Cross Calling. Donations can be made by calling 1800 811 700, or a secure online donation can be made.