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Disaster Relief and Recovery, Embedding respect for IHL + Human rights and technology

1 August 2018

Hi everyone,

Today we have launched an appeal to help drought-affected farming communities facing severe drought.

Approximately 99% of NSW and 57% of Queensland is in drought. Together with Commonwealth Bank who has donated $1.75 million to kick off our appeal, we're calling on more people to join us and help Australian farmers.

This builds on the great work of our members and the NSW DAB who are already supporting those impacted by the drought in NSW as well as work in QLD. This work has focussed on strengthening existing farmer and community support networks, facilitating the development of new ones and improving farming family and community awareness on the importance of being proactive about health and wellbeing during acute drought periods.

If you wish to use your ingenuity to help raise funds – whether that’s a morning tea or a Flanno Friday in our offices, or a fundraiser in your neighbourhood, you can visit to find out more or visit our fundraising page online to register your own fundraising efforts.


Catching up with our supporters

Peter Walton, Matt Davies and I met with close to 200 supporters at an event held by the loyalty team in Canberra on Monday last week. We talked through the work of Red Cross in Canberra, nationally and internationally and then had a good Q&A session. The Q&A conversation ranged over many areas raised such as how new environmental dangers are impacting on communities’ economic and social well-being, the laws of wars, justice reform, among many others.

Photo: IAG is a member of the UNEP Finance Initiative and they were co-supporters with NAB of the conference.

Sustainable finance

Sunday night for me was a welcome cocktail event which Nicki Anderson and I attended in Sydney. The event was to kick off the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative. This initiative is sponsored by IAG and NAB to explore how the banking, insurance and investment sector can support resilient and sustainable economies in Australia and New Zealand.

The conference featured key examples of international sustainable finance developments and the work of leading industry initiatives such as UNEP Finance Initiative’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance and the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, among others. The three-day event helped inform recommendations around the development of sustainable finance roadmaps. It was a great opportunity to work with leaders from industry and government both locally and internationally to reinforce the importance of building resilient communities – a key outcome of Red Cross Strategy 2020. We also had the opportunity to showcase the Get Prepared app at a mini expo during the event.


Human rights and technology

Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, big data and robotics. These are just some examples of the technology that is rapidly altering the future of humanity and will have profound impacts on our communities.

Amanda Robinson and Ivana Jurko represented us recently at the Human Rights & Technology Conference convened by the Australian Human Rights Commission. The conference was about the human rights implications of unprecedented technological change, and launched a major research project that will look at the impact and opportunities of new technologies to protect and promote our rights and freedoms. The project will investigate issues such as artificial intelligence, algorithmic bias, big data, inclusive technology, and the intersection between technology, free speech and democracy.

Poorly designed technology can lead to perpetuation of vulnerability and marginalisation through ‘algorithmic bias’ (e.g. use of COMPAS in sentencing) and this highlighted another one of the key emerging themes from the conference which was a ‘human rights by design’ – an approach to ensure people are at the centre of these new technologies. 

The Commission is calling on civil society organisations to support this important project through outreach to their communities and membership. This is a great opportunity for Red Cross to become a key influencer in this process through our reach and networks, and ensure that the whole gamut of Australian community can take part in the consultations.

In the words of the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Distinguished Professor Rosalind Croucher, “We must focus on the principles of security, responsibility, integrity, inclusivity, and especially humanity because it is without the last that we will be abandoning all hope in this digital revolution.”

For details about the project and the consultation process you can visit the project webpage and read the Issues Paper.


Embedding respect for IHL

Lastly, I want to call out Yvette’s team for a fantastic job done in progressing our work on the IHL Action Plans (IHLAPs).

Last week, together with the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University, the IHL Program made a submission for proposed changes to the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s fourth edition of the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. We aim to leverage this consultation process to convince the ASX to include not only reference to human rights (as it already does) but also reference to IHL, as a prime consideration for companies to operate legally, ethically and responsibly.

Fauve Kurnadi did an exceptional job in leading the submission, producing such high quality collaborative work with our academic partner. This is a big step towards encouraging Australian companies to better understand IHL and its relevance to their operations. Special thanks also to Chris and Leanne who advised of approval processes and Sonia Meanwell for formatting the document at lightning speed and getting it sent off on time.

Congratulations also to Isabel Robinson and others in the IHL team for the enormous amount of work that has gone into drafting an IHL Action Plan for Australian Red Cross – the executive recently adopted the IHLAP and it will now go to the board in August; the final step before implementation begins.

Talk to you next week.