Our Centenary year was a tremendous time of celebration, reflection and renewal as we shared the great Australian story of a century of people helping people.
At local events around the country, our members paid tribute to generations of Australians who forged our proud legacy. No matter where in Australia our people came from or how Red Cross came into their lives, each story wove a common thread of shared humanity – a thread that is now part of the social fabric of Australian life.
After celebrating our Centenary we also marked the end of the five-year strategy that has guided our work since 2010. Under Strategy 2015, we brought our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to the fore, building strong partnerships with Indigenous organisations and investing in the cultural competency of our staff. We also provided support for more than 25,000 refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants, ensuring their needs were met in the Australian community.
These priorities will continue for the next five years under our new five-year strategy, as will our vital work in building social connections for vulnerable people, supporting stronger families and communities in Australia and overseas, promoting international humanitarian law and more.
We’re now well into the beginning of a new century for Australian Red Cross, continuing and strengthening the humanitarian work we’ve become well-known for.
Our volunteers and staff worked tirelessly during the first half of 2015 as the nation was beset first by summer bushfires, then by cyclones and flooding. Our sincere thanks go to the 1,258 Red Cross volunteers who supported 19,727 people during emergencies in Australia this year.
Then Cyclone Pam left a swathe of destruction in Vanuatu and across the Pacific. In some of the hardest hit areas of Vanuatu, up to 90% of homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving residents in urgent need of shelter. The Australian community rallied, giving $7 million to the Red Cross disaster response. This allowed us to provide emergency relief including clean water, shelter and health initiatives, as well as sending specialist aid workers to kick off the huge recovery operation.
Just weeks later, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, affecting more than 5 million people across the region. We raised around $12 million to support the international Red Cross relief effort, which provided emergency health care, millions of litres of safe drinking water and more than 100,000 temporary shelters, as well as helping with the enormous task of re-building a nation.
As a member of the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience, we received special recognition with a United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction this year. It was an honour to be acknowledged for our success in placing up-front investment in disaster resilience high on the agenda of Government.
Our migration support programs transitioned to more streamlined services through migration hubs, under a new contract with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. We are enormously proud of the integrity of our staff who worked tirelessly to uphold the best interests of our clients at all times, and we honour the many dedicated Red Cross people we had to farewell.
Another significant change came as we farewelled Robert Tickner, our CEO of more than 10 years. Robert guided significant improvements to our structure, policies and strategy, and his contribution to our organisation and humanitarian values has been outstanding. While we conduct an extensive recruitment campaign for our next CEO, we are pleased to have Jennifer Williams, CEO of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service as our interim Chief Executive Officer.
We acknowledge all our volunteers, members and staff for their hard work and commitment to supporting our clients and upholding our humanitarian principles. As the needs of vulnerable people increase, we rely on the generous support of the Australian public and corporate partners to help fund our humanitarian work. We thank all those who generously made a financial contribution to Red Cross this year, including our regular givers and those who have given a gift in their Will, and extend our gratitude to the many government organisations, businesses and supporters that have provided financial or in-kind support throughout the year. We also thank the everyday heroes who gave 1.3 million life-saving blood donations this year.
Today the need for Red Cross is greater than ever, and we look with optimism to a new generation of Australians who will champion our humanitarian mission and adapt to changing needs over the next 100 years.
Chief Executive Officer