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Our President Ross Pinney and CEO Judy Slatyer. Photo: Mark Farrelly Photography.

from Ross

It’s an enormous privilege to have served my first year as President of Australian Red Cross.

We worked harder than ever to forge new connections this year. That’s because the changes we want to see in Strategy 2020 are too big to achieve on our own. We are aiming for three million Australians to be ready for disasters; for 2.5 million people to take their own humanitarian action; for 500,000 more to overcome deep social exclusion; and for a much bigger national investment in disaster risk reduction and smarter approaches to justice.

Our role isn’t to do all those things ourselves: it’s to connect the people who can. 

That’s why we brought communities, businesses, governments and civil society together to share ideas and work towards common solutions.  Our staff, volunteers and members have worked hard to expand the impact of our work in helping vulnerable people.

We hosted the Humanitech Summit in February 2018, exploring how technology such as blockchain and digital ID could make humanitarian action easier. As part of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Stronger Communities, we released a report on building resilience at state and territory levels. We held discussions with Reconciliation Australia, community organisations and businesses to work through achieving better community outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

All over Australia, our volunteers and members made the connections that keep our humanitarian mission alive.

Together with the Australian Government and leading humanitarian agencies, we launched an appeal that raised $2.5 million to help families fleeing violence in Myanmar. And with our community partners, we successfully advocated for more government support for people who had been forced into marriage.

Meanwhile, all over Australia, our volunteers and members made the connections that keep our humanitarian mission alive. We can count their contribution in terms of calls made, trips driven, goods distributed, boxes packed, doors knocked on, shoulders cried on, events held and funds raised – but we know its value is far greater than that. 

They helped people connect to their community, to long-lost loved ones, to resources, to opportunity, and to their own strength and potential.

This report explains not only how Red Cross helped this year, or our financial position at its end, but also the lessons we learned from success and failure along the way.

I’m proud to have been involved with Red Cross since 2005: first on the Victorian Divisional Board, then Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee plus a member of the International Federation’s Finance Commission, then Deputy President of Australian Red Cross from 2011-2017. This year, I’m prouder still to be a leader of an organisation that is working steadily through enormous change, while contributing meaningfully to Australia’s future.

Thank you for your support and passion for Red Cross and I look forward to the year to come.

Ross Pinney 


from Judy

I can’t imagine my life without the great connections I have. Connection is the thread that runs through all our work at Red Cross, and through all healthy and sustainable communities.

I met a volunteer from our Community Visitors Scheme who told me this story: she regularly visited a client, a talented artist who was losing her sight. And this was heartbreaking for her. And so the volunteer, who had never painted a picture in her life, asked the client to teach her how to paint. Because of this connection, which Red Cross made possible, one person could pass on her gift of art, and another could learn a completely new skill. 

Imagine if we could replicate those connections, millions of times across Australia. What a society we’d be.

That’s what we’re working towards. Connecting those who can help to those who need help; individuals to their communities; innovative thinkers to great causes; and people to their own strength and capacity.

Many things made me proud this year. Both directly and together with others, we supported 11,000 people seeking asylum to complete their applications for protection. Five hundred teams signed on to our Beat Loneliness campaign, taking a team approach to tackle an issue that more than half of all Australians experience. We ran two major international appeals and we were there for Australians in more than 300 emergencies. 

We’ll never stop trying to be there for all Australians, whoever and wherever they are.

I loved seeing the ingenuity in our branches across the country. Whether it was a fun run in Kiama, a vintage clothing sale in Bindaring or a classic car rally, our members kept finding great ways to raise funds and connect people to our work.

But we learned some hard lessons. Changes to the Australian Government’s Status Resolution Support Service meant we had to transition almost 3,000 asylum seeker clients to new service providers and say goodbye to extraordinary and much-loved staff members. And while our commitment to vulnerable migrants is as strong as ever, we are rethinking our approach and seeking new partnerships to make it possible.

This year we took a close look at how we pay our staff, and found mistakes that were years in the making. We are rebuilding our pay system in its entirety and are committed to making sure staff are paid correctly in the future and back-paying what we owe to current staff by December 2018.

As an organisation, we’re on a long journey of change: building deep expertise in disaster risk reduction and addressing vulnerability; bringing new thinking to the way we approach our work; giving people more ways to act on the issues they’re passionate about; enabling millions of Australians to connect with their communities and do something positive. 

But that remains grounded in what will never change about Red Cross. We’ll never stop working for humanity, or doing so in a neutral and impartial way. We’ll never stop believing that migrants should be given a fair go, or that everyone should be prepared for emergencies. We’ll always believe that no matter how tough things get, people have the strength to survive – with the right support. We’ll never stop trying to be there for all Australians, whoever and wherever they are.

I’m proud of the connections we sparked this year. In reading this report, I hope you spark some of your own.

Judy Slatyer
Chief Executive Officer