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Australian Red Cross Board

The members of the Board are the key policy-makers of Australian Red Cross.

The Board is the key policy-making instrument of Australian Red Cross.

Its role is to govern the organisation’s activities and ensure it acts in accordance with the Geneva Convention, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regulations, the international movement’s protocols, and the fundamental principles of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. The Board also develops and maintains ethical standards based on a Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy.

Comprising up to 16 members, the Board includes the President, Deputy President, the Audit and Risk Committee Chair, the Youth Member, the Chair or nominee of each of the eight Divisional Advisory Boards from each state and territory, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Chair and up to three Additional Board Members. While they are not members of the Board, Australian Red Cross’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Board Secretary attend Board meetings.

Our Board Members are volunteers who receive no payment for their services, other than reimbursement for reasonable travel and other expenses incurred through their work for Red Cross. The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Chair member receives payment from Lifeblood.

Ensuring good governance is a key Board responsibility. This includes overseeing mechanisms to comply with legal requirements and regulations, while safekeeping the ongoing financial viability of Red Cross. The Board monitors and periodically evaluates its own performance and strives to always have a skilled and diverse membership in place. It also establishes and implements a recognition process that acknowledges the efforts of volunteers, members and staff.

Board members

Ross Pinney
President

Charles Burkitt
Deputy President

Sam Hardjono
Chair, Audit and Risk Committee

Nazli Hocaoglu
Youth Member

Wendy Prowse
Chair, ACT Divisional Advisory Board

John MacLennan
Chair, NSW Divisional Advisory Board

Kathleen Cole
Chair, NT Divisional Advisory Board

Winifred Smith AM
Chair, QLD Divisional Advisory Board

Rose Rhodes PSM
Chair, SA Divisional Advisory Board

Rita Richards
Chair, TAS Divisional Advisory Board

Dr Garry Nolan AM
Chair, VIC Divisional Advisory Board

Aisling Blackmore
Chair, WA Divisional Advisory Board

James Birch AM
Chair, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

Dr Melissa Phillips
Additional Board Member

Cris Topfner-Rigby
Additional Board Member

Ian Hamm
Additional Board Member

Ross Pinney
President

Charles Burkitt
Deputy President

Sam Hardjono
Chair, Audit and Risk Committee

Nazli Hocaoglu
Youth Member

Wendy Prowse
Chair, ACT Divisional Advisory Board

John MacLennan
Chair, NSW Divisional Advisory Board

Kathleen Cole
Chair, NT Divisional Advisory Board

Winifred Smith AM
Chair, QLD Divisional Advisory Board

Rose Rhodes PSM
Chair, SA Divisional Advisory Board

Rita Richards
Chair, TAS Divisional Advisory Board

Dr Garry Nolan AM
Chair, VIC Divisional Advisory Board

Aisling Blackmore
Chair, WA Divisional Advisory Board

James Birch AM
Chair, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

Dr Melissa Phillips
Additional Board Member

Cris Topfner-Rigby
Additional Board Member

Ian Hamm
Additional Board Member

Ross Pinney
President

During 15 years in the banking industry Ross Pinney came to the view the sector is at its best when helping people fulfill their ambitions.

He sees Australian Red Cross as an organisation at its best when helping people during difficult times.

As Australian Red Cross’s President since 2017, he volunteers around 40 hours each week, working to harness the assets of a large board and he liaises daily with Red Cross executives.

“Our Board includes such incredible diversity of ideas, and we reach better decisions because of that diversity,” he says.

 

Ross wants to build on Red Cross’s strengths.

“Our job is to support staff, members and volunteers so they can meet the needs of our clients.”

“We have to be well-run, sustainable, relevant and the best at what we do.”

After completing a Commerce degree, Ross joined Arthur Anderson and became a chartered accountant. He later joined Melbourne’s Board of Works which at that time managed the city’s water, drainage, sewerage and town planning.

As the head of Board of Works’ Revenue Department, he was part of a team that overhauled the way Melbournians paid for their water. Fixed water rates charges were replaced by water usage rates, resulting in a 20 per cent decline in water use.

Ross was also instrumental in devising repayment schemes for customers who could not pay their bills. Rather than losing access to clean water, they were able to retain access to the utility while paying down their debt.

“We became solutions-oriented,” Ross says.

Ross joined Australian Red Cross when he finished full time work and has served on other boards as well, mainly in the financial services sector. He was elected President for a second two-year term in November 2019.

Charles Burkitt
Deputy President

Charles has served as a board member since October 2014, when he was elected as Chairman of the Northern Territory Divisional Advisory Board. He is also Chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the Audit & Risk Committee.

Charles' journey with Red Cross commenced at a very early age not long after his family endured the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, which resulted in directly experiencing the Red Cross Power of Humanity with support being provided following this event. Since this time he has continually volunteered with the Red Cross cause.

Charles began his career as an experienced Investment Adviser specialising in financial markets, having worked in that industry for more than 15 years. He now actively works within the Property Development Industry based in Darwin, while also having obtained extensive Board experience as an active Board Member of several local organisations. Charles enjoys an active lifestyle with an interest in most sports and leisure activities.

Sam Hardjono
Chair, Audit and Risk Committee

Sam Hardjono joined the NSW Divisional Advisory Board in 2010 and became member of the Property Committee in 2013 and Finance Committee in 2015. He was appointed Chair for NSW and therefore member the national board that same year. Sam was appointed Chair, Audit and Risk Committee in February 2021 to fill a casual vacancy until the 2021 AGM of Council.

For his service, dedication and exceptional leadership to the Australian Red Cross, Sam was awarded a Distinguished Service Award in October 2017.

Sam is currently a senior strategic adviser, working with leaders in the corporate, not-for-profit and start-up sectors. For more than a decade he was Chief Executive Officer of a large charity with projects in South-East Asia, South America and Australia. Prior to this, he was Australian Managing Director of a NASDAQ/London Stock Exchange listed property service company, and previously Group Financial Controller for one of Australia's largest and iconic architectural firms.

He has served on inter-governmental, not-for-profit, corporate, private and start-up boards, either as a trustee, non-executive director or advisory roles for over 20 years.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Business in Accounting and an MBA in International Business.

Nazli Hocaoglu
Youth Member

Bio coming soon.

 

 

 

 

Wendy Prowse
Chair, ACT Divisional Advisory Board

Wendy was appointed the Chair of the ACT Divisional Advisory Board in 2016 having held the Deputy Chair role for three years and has been a member of the DAB since 2012. She joined the National Red Cross Board in October 2016 and has since become a member of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee, Finance Committee and Services Advisory Group. Wendy convenes the DAB Chairs meetings which are held prior to each National Board meeting however are meeting more frequently and virtually in 2020 due to COVID.

With more than 25 years’ experience working in the not-for-profit and corporate sector within the health, banking and community services industry, Wendy has an established track record in strategic and business development, corporate governance, marketing, people & culture, organisational change management, research and policy. Wendy currently holds an executive position with the OzHelp Foundation, a NFP social enterprise that is focused on suicide prevention through improving mental health and wellbeing in industries that are deemed high risk and least likely to seek help. Wendy holds a Graduate Certificate in Management with Charles Sturt University, is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders.

John MacLennan
Chair, NSW Divisional Advisory Board

This is Sydney lawyer John MacLennan’s second stint on the Australian Red Cross Board. He has been a Red Cross NSW governance volunteer since 1998.

After six years on the Board from 2009 to 2015, he returned somewhat unexpectedly in September 2020.

He is a quick study and carries a wealth of corporate knowledge accumulated over almost 40 years of Red Cross involvement.

That historical perspective can be valuable when envisaging the future. “I am the person who sometimes says, ‘We tried that once before, and here are some of the lessons we learned,” he says.

 

John first encountered the Red Cross Movement when he found himself on the Thai Cambodian border in 1979 and volunteered for several weeks at the Khao-I-Dang camp for refugees fleeing Cambodia’s ruthless Khmer Rouge.

“I helped set up and then ran a feeding program for the infants in a paediatric ward at the camp hospital. This freed the doctors and nurses to deal with the measles epidemic, malnutrition, dysentery and malaria.”

Inspired by that experience he applied, unsuccessfully, for a job at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva.

Upon John’s return to Australia his legal career brought him back into the orbit of Red Cross when he worked with the Blood Service in the 1980s as it grappled with new donation conditions necessitated by the arrival of HIV. In the 1990s he defended the NSW Blood Service in litigation arising from that situation.

John has served on a wide range of Red Cross National and State committees and working groups. He is adamant voluntary service must remain core to the activities of Australian Red Cross. “Through our volunteers we remain relevant, engaged and vigorous,” he says.

Kathleen Cole
Chair, NT Divisional Advisory Board

Kathleen joined the Northern Territory Division of the Australian Red Cross in 2000 from a corporate career in mining finance and management. Taking the role as Corporate Services Manager she worked for 10 years with the Northern Territory Red Cross in several leadership roles including as Indigenous Program Manager and Interim Divisional Director.

Kathleen developed her social justice understanding and application of community development practices with Red Cross. Kathleen was deployed overseas with Red Cross work in China, Papua New Guinea and East Timor with short duration secondments working with local counterparts in finance and governance training and development. Over her term of employment Kathleen was activated in many local, interstate and international disasters responses to natural disasters, terrorism and infrastructure failures. Kathleen was awarded a Red Cross Distinguished Service Award for her work with the Cyclone Yass response in 2007 Kathleen maintained her active volunteering with Red Cross after her employment and has been part of the NT Advisory Board since 2014.

Kathleen currently works with Menzies School of Health managing a collection of projects in Timor Leste related to public health. Prior to that she held the position of Cancer Council NT CEO from 2013 to 2018.

Kathleen is a FCPA and a GAICD. She sits on the PKKP Native Title Board as an Independent Director, the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation as an Independent Director, is Deputy Chair of the Northern Territory Primary Health Network Consumer Advisory Board and Director of the Australia Football League of the Northern Territory.

Winifred Smith AM
Chair, QLD Divisional Advisory Board

Winifred (Win) joined Australian Red Cross in 1997 after retiring from the workforce as Queensland Administration Manager for a multi-national electrical company. Since then she has been an active member and volunteer, Win was appointed Chair of the Queensland Divisional Advisory Board in October 2018.

During her time with Red Cross, Win has served as Branch President, Regional President and Regional Voluntary Trainer and has served on a wide range of Divisional Committees. She has been active in supporting Emergency Services especially in the areas of Evacuation, Response and Recovery and has served on five of the Queensland Premiers Disaster Relief Fund Distribution Committees. She received the National Emergency Medal for her role in the Queensland 2011 floods and cyclone Yasi. She has served on the National Awards Committee as a member and chaired that committee for 4years. She is a Trustee on the Alexander Steel Young Lions Memorial Fund for the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

She has received many awards for her work at Red Cross including Honorary Life Member in 2011 and the Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to Australian Red Cross Queensland Division and the community in 2015.

Rose Rhodes PSM
Chair, SA Divisional Advisory Board

Rose Rhodes was Deputy Director of Nursing at Adelaide’s Modbury Hospital when the 1983 Ash Wednesday Fires ripped through the Adelaide Hills and bore down on a city shrouded in smoke and ash.

She vividly recalls dispatching retrieval teams to the fire front to tend to exhausted firefighters. Not long after, she relocated with her husband to Darwin where a two-year stint became 27 years.

 

As Director of Nursing, Community Health, Darwin Urban and Rural in the NT public service Rose oversaw 14 remote health centres, located on islands north of Darwin, to Maningrida in the east and Wadeye on the western side and 100km south to the Adelaide River plus six urban centres in Darwin.

It was her final paid job in the Top End that led Rose to Australian Red Cross. She worked for the NT Government on the tripartite agreement for what was then called the Red Cross Blood Service when Red Cross moved from being state-based to a national body.

She joined Red Cross when she retired in 2007.

She says, “For me it’s really about supporting people in need regardless of where they are or what situation they are in.”

 

Rose was appointed Chair of the SA Divisional Advisory Board and a member of the Society’s Board in October 2017.

She still volunteers in emergency services providing psychological first aid and as a trainer.

In 2007 Rose was awarded a Public Service Medal for her outstanding contribution to the NT Government.

Rita Richards
Chair, TAS Divisional Advisory Board

Rita Richards was appointed Tasmanian Divisional Advisory Board Chair on 2 April 2020.

Rita has been a longstanding member of the Red Cross community for the past 70 years, commencing when she joined the Junior Red Cross at the Dunalley School in 1950.

Rita later joined the Tea Tree Branch in 1989 where she held the position of President until 1991.

Continuing with her voluntary work, from 1993 to 1998, Rita volunteered at the Road House, providing meals to young individuals who are vulnerable or at risk of homelessness. Between the years of 1993 to 2009, Rita actively participated in Red Cross Calling, a national fundraising initiative which helps support people and communities facing hardship within Australia and overseas.

Rita then held the position of President of the Hobart No.1 Branch from 1999 to 2007 and was the Branch Secretary from 2005-2006.

In 2014, Rita was instrumental in accumulating and coordinating the collection of the Tasmanian historical memorabilia for the Centenary publication ‘The Power of Humanity – 100 years of Australian Red Cross’.

Rita continues to be the State Historian for Red Cross Tasmania and travels to many Branch and public functions to promote the history of Red Cross and to showcase the original items and documents which were used during the Great War and World War II. Through this amazing work, Rita’s attentiveness in the Red Cross history is evident to all in Tasmania.

Dr Garry Nolan AM
Chair, VIC Divisional Advisory Board

Garry first joined the Victorian Divisional Board in 2007 in a co-opted role. He was elected to a position on the Divisional Board in 2008 and has served continuously since that time, including through the restructure of Australian Red Cross whereby the Divisional Board became the Divisional Advisory Board. Garry is an individual member of Red Cross.

Garry retired from an executive role with one of Australia’s leading international companies in 2007 and since then has devoted his time to family, humanitarian activities, executive development and community development. Garry’s academic and professional qualifications include a Doctor of Business Administration and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His areas of expertise include new product development, strategy formulation and implementation, financial management and control, corporate governance, problem solving and crisis management (in a corporate environment), team building, mentoring and leading multi-disciplinary project teams.

Garry was involved in the emergency activations for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and the 2011 Victorian floods. He was a volunteer at the ICRC Statutory Meetings held in Sydney in 2013.

Garry is the Chairman of the Planning Committee, a member of the Membership Review Committee, a member of the Awards Committee and is the Australian Red Cross representative on the Advisory Board of the Scholarly Services unit of The University of Melbourne (recognising the important part Red Cross played in the history of Melbourne).

Aisling Blackmore
Chair, WA Divisional Advisory Board

Aisling Blackmore was elected Chair of the West Australian Division in October 2019. She has been an active member and volunteer within Australian Red Cross since January 2010. Aisling has a B.A. (Hons), M.A. (Research) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an alumna of the Australian Mental Health Leaders Fellowship. She has extensive experience in developing leadership systems and communities which are inclusive of the needs of young people and emerging leaders. She is committed to removing barriers to full participation and citizenship for people of all abilities and backgrounds.

Aisling has held leadership roles in Australian Red Cross on state, national, and international levels, and volunteered in services for people experiencing homelessness, newly arrived migrants and refugees, and peer-to-peer harm minimisation education. In recognition of her contributions, Aisling was awarded the Youth Meritorious Service Medal in 2014 and was shortlisted for WA Young Achiever of the Year in 2016. She has been Chair of the National Awards Committee since 2018.

Since May 2020, Aisling has been employed by Befriend Inc., a social enterprise in Western Australia focused on building strong, inclusive, connected communities in which everyone is valued and can belong. In addition to work and Red Cross volunteering commitments, Aisling has been involved with the International Initiative for Disability Leadership (IIDL) since 2016, and from 2017 onwards has led and coordinated the IIDL Emerging Leaders strategy across the eight member countries.

James Birch AM
Chair, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

James Birch was appointed Chair of Australian Red Cross Lifeblood in February 2016. He was previously a member of the South Australian Division Board from 2005 to 2008.

James is currently a non-Executive Director and a Chair on a number of Boards.

Until January 2016 he was the Global Health Care Leader for Ernst & Young, having previously been the Leader of its Health and Human Services Practice for Asia Pacific.

He has also been the Chief Executive of a Human Services and Health Department, Deputy Chief Executive of a Justice Department and Chief Executive of major health service delivery organisations, including academic teaching hospitals. In addition to Lifeblood, James is currently the Chair of Calvary Health, Clevertar Pty Ltd and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (SA) and a Director of the Cancer Council of South Australia.

James has a Bachelor of Health Administration from the University of NSW (1983) and is a Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Management (FCHSM).

Dr Melissa Phillips
Additional Board Member

Melissa was elected as an Additional Board Member in August 2018.

Melissa is a consultant and academic with almost 20 years' experience working with migrants and refugees in Australia and overseas. She is a Lecturer in Humanitarian and Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University.

She was formerly a Senior Regional Advisor on refugee protection and migration for Danish Refugee Council based in the Middle East and North Africa and has academic expertise on issues related to migration, multiculturalism and displacement. Melissa has worked for the United Nations in South Sudan and for international NGOs in Libya, the Horn of Africa and South Sudan in the areas of protection of civilians and humanitarian coordination.

Melissa has formerly worked for the Australian Red Cross Tracing and Refugee Services department and managed a refugee resettlement project in Australia. Her Doctorate in Social and Political Sciences on the pre-migration experiences of migrants and refugees was completed at the University of Melbourne (2013). She also holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts (Honours).

Melissa is a Regional Advisor for the International Detention Coalition, is on the Advisory Board of Urban Refugees and is an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Intercultural Studies. In addition to her current role on the Board, Melissa is also a member of the Migration Programs Advisory Committee.

Cris Topfner-Rigby
Additional Board Member

Cris was elected as an Additional Board Member in August 2018. A former refugee aided by Red Cross and migrant herself, Cris is passionate about and committed to contributing with her experience across innovation, digital agility and transformation to make a positive social impact and help those in need. A senior technology executive, Cris is currently Head of IT Operations at Origin Energy. Prior to joining Origin, Cris held senior executive roles at Coles, Coles Financial Services, as well as positions in military research and software agencies in Australia and overseas. She was recognized as one of the top 100 influential leaders in payments by Fin Tech Asia in 2016 and is a regular speaker at national and international conferences. Cris contributed to the establishment of a national payments framework and policy through committee membership at the Australian Payments & Clearing Association, Eftpos Payments Australia Ltd, the Australian Payments Council and Standards Australia.

Ian Hamm
Additional Board Member

Ian is a Yorta Yorta man who has been actively involved in the Victorian Indigenous community in a personal and professional capacity for many years. Prior to joining our Board in April 2017 as an Additional Board Member, Ian was a member of the Victorian Divisional Advisory Board.

Ian has had a wide level of exposure to policy development and program management at executive level through his work with the Federal Government (Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health) and the Victorian Government (Department of Justice; Department of Planning and Community Development, and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources).

Ian holds a number of governance positions including Chairperson: First Nations Foundation (national); Chairperson: Connecting Home Ltd (Stolen Generations Service); Chairperson: Koorie Heritage Trust (Vic) (Victorian Indigenous arts trust); Director: Aboriginal Housing Victoria Ltd; Director: Yarra Valley Water; Director: Community First Development; and Director: National Trust Australia (Vic). He also serves on a number of Advisory Boards and is a former President of the Western Region Football League, one of the major Australian football leagues in Melbourne. Ian is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Vic).