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Our Board

Members of the Red Cross Board, guiding our organisation

The role of the Board is to govern the activities of the Society. In doing so, the Board approves the overall strategy for the Society including strategic plans, annual plans and budgets. The Board works to ensure the Society acts in accordance with the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement. The Board sets policies including the Ethical Framework.

The Australian Red Cross Society Board operates under a Royal Charter and Rules that set out the policies and internal rules for the governance of the organisation. The Board has formally delegated responsibility for the day-to-day operation of Australian Red Cross Society to the Chief Executive Officer and executive management team. Day-to-day operation of Lifeblood is delegated to a separate board, CEO and executive management team. The Board oversees and monitors management’s performance.

Ensuring good governance is a key Board responsibility. This includes overseeing mechanisms to provide for compliance with legal requirements and regulations, effective identification and management of risks and the ongoing financial viability of Red Cross. The Board monitors and periodically evaluates its own performance and strives to 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.

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

The Board is made up entirely of volunteers. We do not provide payment for serving as a Board Member but we sometimes provide reimbursement for reasonable travel and other expenses incurred in connection with Red Cross activities.

The Board met eleven times during the financial year with additional meetings held during the strategic discussion of our future focus. The Board has also met virtually since March 2020 due to travel restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A = Meetings held during the period of office of the Board Member
B = Meetings attended by the Board Member
C = Meetings attended by an alternate of the Board Member (Divisional Advisory Board Chairs and Youth Member only)

Australian Red Cross Board Members

Appointed December 2017.

Ross Pinney

Ross Pinney was elected President of Australian Red Cross Society for a second two-year term at the Annual General meeting on 29 November 2019.  Previously, Ross had served as Deputy President since 2011, as a Red Cross Divisional Board member from 2005 to 2007 and was elected Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee in 2007. He served as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Finance Commission from 2007 to 2015. Ross also served as a member of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Board from 2011 to 2017.

Ross chairs the Nominations and Remuneration Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee and Audit and Risk Committee.

He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal in 2015.

Ross worked for 15 years as a senior executive at National Australia Bank, as Executive General Manager Office of the CEO, CEO Europe, and Executive General Manager Products and Services. Prior to that he worked for 15 years at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. Ross has been a non-executive director on several Boards in financial services.

Ross’ qualifications include an MBA and B Comm. He is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

To November 2019.

Lyndal stood for re-election for a second term but was unsuccessful. Lyndal attended her last Board meeting in November 2019.

Appointed in November 2019.

Charles Burkitt

Charles was elected as Deputy President at the Annual General Meeting in November 2019. Prior to this he served as the Chair of the Northern Territory Divisional Advisory Board, since October 2014.

He is currently Chair of the Finance Committee, and is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee and the Nominations and Remuneration Committee. In his role as Deputy President, Charles was also appointed as a non-executive director of Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, and serves as a member of their Nominations and Remuneration 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 has extensive board experience, having been an active board member of numerous organisations for more than 20 years. Current positions include non-executive director roles with Power and Water Corporation, Darwin Waterfront Corporation, and Chair of the Northern Territory Community Benefit Fund Committee. Charles commenced his professional career in Darwin, where he is originally from, as an experienced investment adviser. He specialised in financial markets having worked in that industry for more than 15 years, before being involved in the commercial property sector for a number of years. He enjoys an active lifestyle with an interest in most sports, leisure and local community activities.

To 16 February 2020.

Peter Lewinsky resigned from the position of Chair, Audit and Risk Committee in February 2020, attending his final Board meeting that same month.  

Appointed 17 February 2020.

Kym Pfitzner

Kym was elected as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee in February 2020. He is was a member of the Finance Committee and the Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

In September 2020 Kym stepped down from the Board to become our Interim CEO.

Kym is an advisor in Strategy and Leadership and holds various directorships and advisory board positions, particularly within the Advertising and Media industry. He has extensive corporate governance experience in listed and non-listed public companies, privately-owned companies and government-owned organisations.

He has held senior regional and country executive leadership roles including CEO, COO and CFO in Asia Pacific, China and Australia for global advertising holding groups, the more recent being Dentsu Aegis Network. He also has extensive corporate development experience heading up the acquiring of over two hundred businesses.

Kym is a Chartered Accountant, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, has a master degree in Leadership, a master degree in Business Administration, a post-graduate diploma in Chartered Accounting, a post-graduate certificate in Executive Leadership, and a degree in Accounting. He currently is undertaking a PhD in Leadership.

Kym is passionate how leadership can positively impact people, our planet and organisations in a sustainable and ethical way.

Appointed December 2018.

Evie Kuang

Eveline (Evie) was elected as Youth Member in December 2018. Evie started volunteering with the Australian Red Cross in 2015, in the Roadhouse program in Canberra, providing meals to those who are vulnerable or at risk of homelessness. The following year she joined the ACT Youth Advisory Committee and co-chaired the committee from January 2017 to January 2019, while remaining an active member on the ACT Divisional Advisory Board. From August 2018 to April 2019, Evie acted as chair of the National Youth Advisory Committee, contributing to youth engagement together with other young humanitarians. In recognition of her contributions, Evie was awarded a Youth Meritorious Service Award in 2018.

Evie has a keen interest in human rights, volunteering and giving back, while aiming to inspire others to do the same. The combination of her professional interests and having a direct impact with people on the ground led Evie to want to become more involved.

Along with serving on our Board, Evie is a mergers & acquisitions lawyer, specialising in foreign investment.  Evie has had almost 10 years’ experience in the Commonwealth Government, most recently as a legislative adviser in national security and a policy adviser in foreign investment and critical infrastructure. Evie is also a qualified yoga teacher, teaching in Canberra yoga studios and is passionate about promoting wellness and wellbeing.

Evie holds a B Commerce/Laws (hons) from the University of Canberra and a Master of Laws from the Australian National University, and has been admitted as a lawyer since 2014.

Appointed October 2016.

Wendy Prowse

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-19.

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.

Appointed October 2015.

Sam Hardjono

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 a member of the national board that same year.

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.

Appointed January 2020.

Kathleen Cole

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 – 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.

Appointed October 2018.

Winifred Smith

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.

Appointed October 2017.

Rose Rhodes

Rose was appointed as Chair of the SA Divisional Advisory Board and a member of the Society’s Board in October 2017. Rose joined Red Cross as a member and volunteer in the Northern Territory in 2007. On moving to South Australia, Rose was appointed to the SA Divisional Advisory Board in 2009 and was elected as Deputy Chairperson in 2011.

Throughout her working career, Rose often responded to Disasters and Emergencies in Health/Medical Responses and Community Recovery.

As a volunteer, she continued to work in Emergency Services undertaking deployments interstate and in SA performing various roles in the Incident Management Team in SA during activations as well as undertaking Outreach Services, Telecross REDi and Psychological First Aid (PFA). Rose is a PFA and REDi-Plan trainer as well as a Community Speaker for Australian Red Cross.

Rose previously worked in Health and Communities Services with the South Australian and the Northern Territory Governments in positions of Regional Director of Health and Community Services, Executive Director of Community Services and Deputy Secretary Health and Community Services in the NT.

Rose was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2007 for her outstanding contribution to the public service in the NT.

Resigned April 2020.

Akin resigned from the position of Chair, TAS DAB in April 2020, attending his last Board meeting in March 2020. 

Appointed April 2020.

Rita Richards

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

Appointed October 2014.

Anne Macarthur

Anne joined Junior Red Cross in 1952 and has been an active member of Lindenow & District Branch for 50 years. Anne is currently the Chairman of the Victorian Advisory Board. She also chairs the Red Cross Emergency Services Advisory Group and is a member of the Nominations and Remunerations Committee.

During her time with Red Cross Anne has been heavily involved in Branch and Regional governance, fundraising and other Red Cross activities. Anne was a trained Emergency Services volunteer for more than 20 years and was heavily involved during the Black Saturday bushfires.

Anne represented the Victorian Advisory Board on the Victorian International Humanitarian Law committee for 15 years and has been a member and past Chairman of the Victorian Overseas Support Group since its inception in 1997. Anne has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of Australian Red Cross as well as other awards. Anne was the Bairnsdale Citizen of the Year in 2005 and was also awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2007 for her work in the wider community and, in 2016, a Victorian COTA Senior Achiever award.

Term completed October 2019.

Dianne retired from the position of Chair of the WA DAB in October 2019 having served her full six-year term. Dianne attended her final Board meeting in September 2019. 

Appointed October 2019.

Aisling Blackmore

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.

Appointed February 2016.

Jim Birch

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).

Appointed April 2017.

Ian Hamm

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).

Appointed August 2018.

Melissa Phillips

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. 

Appointed August 2018.

Chris Topfner-Rigby

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.

Jeni McDonough

While not a member, Jeni attends all Board meetings and commenced working with Red Cross in September 2004 as Assistant to the Board. She was appointed Board Secretary in December 2009.

Jeni has more than 40 years experience in administration, the majority of which have been at a senior level working in the education, banking, chemicals, information management, utilities and not-for-profit sectors. She holds a Secretarial Diploma, Certificate of Governance Practice and Administration, Certificate of Governance for Not-For-Profits and is a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia (FGIA). Jeni was awarded a Distinguished Staff Award in 2009 and received her 10 years’ Long Service Medal in September 2014.