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Red Cross creating history for centenary

Monday September 27, 2010

Anyone with a personal story to tell about the humanitarian work of Red Cross is being asked to contribute to a new book to coincide with the forthcoming centenary of Red Cross in Australia.

Red Cross Chief Executive Robert Tickner says he hopes the book will provide a unique insight into the many generations of humanitarians whose lives have been touched by Red Cross.

The Australian Branch of Red Cross was established in 1914, by the wife of the Governor General, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson who promptly turned the ballroom of Government House into a workshop for Red Cross relief efforts during World War I.

Almost one hundred years later, in the wake of the Victorian bushfires Mr Tickner says he saw the same spirit of volunteerism, alive and well in Red Cross.

"After one of our worst peacetime disasters, volunteers came from around Australia to provide food and shelter for bushfire evacuees and help raise hundreds of millions of dollars through the bushfire appeal."

Associate Professor Melanie Oppenheimer from the University of New England has been selected to write the history of Red Cross in Australia. Associate Professor Oppenheimer has a number of significant books to her credit including Australian Women and War (2008) commissioned by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and All Work. No Pay. Australian Civilian Volunteers in War (2003).

Associate Professor Oppenheimer says she has been fascinated by Red Cross ever since researching her grandmother?s experiences as a Red Cross volunteer during the repatriation of prisoners from Asia at the end of World War II.

"So many Australians have a personal experience with the organisation, from volunteers who helped send care packages to prisoners through two world wars, people who sought shelter in Red Cross refugee camps while escaping conflict and persecution, or volunteers who have often left their own damaged homes to care for people worse off than themselves."

As part of the centenary celebrations, Australian Red Cross will also host the General Assembly and Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement for the first time in the Asia Pacific Region.

Australian Red Cross Chairman Greg Vickery AM says the General Assembly and Council of Delegates meetings in November 2013 will be not only significant for the organisation's workforce of 60,000 employees, members and volunteers, but for Red Cross Societies throughout the Asia Pacific.

To find out more about the Red Cross Centenary Book or to tell your personal story send an email to

Media contacts:
Media Adviser, Bruce Wardley 0439 384 676