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Stronger communities

Tackling entrenched locational disadvantage

Working with children, young people and families, Red Cross builds on the strengths of people and their communities.

Red Cross works with communities where many factors create cycles of increased vulnerability and fewer opportunities. Our award-winning programs for children, young people and families, such as save-a-mate and Good Start Breakfast Club, provide early intervention and harm minimisation responses for people and communities experiencing disadvantage.

This year, Good Start Breakfast Club volunteers provided a healthy breakfast to more than 4,500 children in 216 clubs across Australia, and Sanitarium has supported this program for more than 10 years. Communities around the country embraced long-term change around access to healthy food, through education and workshops run on food budgeting and cooking skills. Other initiatives such as school and community gardens also improved affordable access to healthy food. Volunteers and staff worked alongside community members and organisations to strengthen their ability to identify and build local solutions that support healthy and sustainable ways of living.

Mates Henri and Alin look out for each other at festivals through the save-a-mate (SAM) program. The program was awarded the inaugural International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) International Volunteering Award for its superior volunteer management in urban environments. The save-a-mate Festival and Events program was also highly commended in the 2013 National Drug and Alcohol Awards in the category of Excellence in Services for Young People. Australian Red Cross/Rodney Dekker.

Young people save their mates

The national save-a-mate program effectively provides harm minimisation education and harm prevention training, according to an external evaluation carried out by the independent Burnet Institute.

The evaluation found that the program occupies a unique and important space in the Australian alcohol and other drug prevention field. Run by dedicated and enthusiastic staff members, the program provides an important service by enhancing the capacity of vulnerable young people to respond to alcohol and other drug-related emergencies.

Amelia* sees a bright future ahead for her young family, after being helped by Red Cross with parenting skills and a rich variety of support groups and education sessions. Red Cross also provides avenues to other services like housing and independent living skills. *Name changed to protect privacy. Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera.

Healthy communities are a winner

The Eat Smart Shop Smart project won an Award for Outstanding Achievement in Partnerships to Improve Health Outcomes, presented by the ACT Government. The focus of the training is healthy eating on a budget and is provided to groups of community workers who support vulnerable people. The award recognises programs and projects that demonstrate outstanding leadership and outcomes across organisations and/or with the private and public sectors to improve health in the ACT community.

Better days for youth

A study in South Australia’s Step Out program reported that getting back on track has been made easier, better and more likely for most young participants. Step Out assists young people to develop plans for their lives and to access a range of services so they have the ability to ‘step out’ of reoffending and integrate back into their community. The independent evaluation was conducted by Professor Mark Halsey in 2012 and found that through the program, participants improved their capacity for decision making and planning for their future.