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AGMs celebrate | Exciting announcements | More Fires in NSW & QLD

10 October 2019

AGMs celebrate amazing work

Hi everyone,

It is AGM time across Red Cross, with each of our States and Territories celebrating their amazing work.  I find it incredibly uplifting hearing about the magic we create with others all over the country and beyond.  So I decided share a few examples of what I have been hearing.

Cooking brings out the best for young people

In Alice Springs they are celebrating a successful three month trial of cooking with young people in detention.

Every Sunday, volunteers work with a small group of young people to cook lunch for the whole population at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre which has been between 6 and 16 young people.

The volunteers and the young people work together to decide what they would like to eat and cook, with a focus on fresh food, tasting new things, and sharing a love of home cooked food. 

When the meal is cooked and the kitchen cleaned up, the volunteers eat with the young people and discuss meal planning, favourite foods and upcoming art projects at the centre. 

The young people love the program because it gives them opportunity to take the initiative and have input on day-to-day decisions in their lives. It has been successful in improving self-regulation and gives the young people a chance to work one-on-one with an adult who wants to pass on knowledge and skills.

Giving more people the independence of driving

We’ve now added Junee and Cootamundra in NSW to our Learner Driver Program with plans to expand to the ACT.

The successful Nowra program recently heard from a former participant. He wrote to thank them for all their support and to tell them about the real difference a driver’s licence had made to his life.

He had a casual job when he was with the program, but was not able to work many shifts as he relied on getting a lift to and from work. Now he’s working every shift he can, including night shift which other workers were reluctant to accept. His enthusiasm and work ethic were noted and he was made a permanent employee and has recently been promoted to a managerial position. It’s incredible how many doors can be opened with access to this simple but life changing support.

Community Based Health and First Aid in WA prison

At the WA AGM last week they celebrated the appointment of 22 new Special Status Volunteers in the Community Based Health and First Aid program in Acacia Prison. 

This internationally acclaimed Red Cross program appoints prisoners as volunteers to work together to address safety and wellbeing for the prison community. It was rolled out successfully across prisons in Ireland with tremendous impact and we are working with prisons to have it running in facilities across Australia.  Acacia Prison is Australia’s largest prison. 

Our President Ross attended the appointment event along with others and met some of our new volunteers.

Young Indigenous Army Cadets connect with Elders

Last week the NT Remote and Indigenous Army Cadets paid a visit to the residents at Red Cross Kalano Flexible care. Kalano provides care to older Aboriginal people in a culturally relevant way.

The young cadets aged between 13 and 17 chatted with the residents, cooked and served a barbeque lunch and then performed a drill to entertain everyone. The residents enjoyed their time with the young people so much they’ve asked them to come back soon.

For the young Cadets the highlight was being Welcomed to Country by Dagoman Traditional Owner May Rosas.

The NT Remote and Indigenous Army Cadets also recently ran a barbeque fundraiser for Red Cross at the local RAAF base and are keen to take part in more Red Cross activities. Training in IHL is next on the agenda.

Volunteers inspiring others with stories of kindness

When I was in Tasmania recently I met with our hub team who have recruited two new teams of volunteers to help them reach their goal of making humanitarian action part of every day for people in Tasmania. 

A recent initiative of one of the teams is to fill Facebook with stories of kindness with the #calloutkindness challenge. There is so much good happening in our communities, but we tend to focus on the bad things happening. The #calloutkindness challenge hopes to shift that balance and hopefully inspire others in the community to do more good too.

The second volunteer group, is the Storyteller Team, who collect and share stories of kindness, diversity and good stuff happening in our communities. Some of these storyteller volunteers recently took to the streets of Hobart to ask the community about diversity, kindness and helping others. They produced videos with the footage including one on how helping others makes people feel.

Supporting preparedness for epidemics

Disease outbreaks begin and end in communities, and the importance of engaging communities in preparedness and response cannot be understated. We recently contributed to two proposals to DFAT on this work. We emphasise the central role of communities in disease prevention.

The proposals have recently passed the first stage of review for funding. It is a great first step but we’re not over the line yet. Now we will work with DFAT to co-design our proposals and agree roles and responsibilities of all partners including James Cook University who we worked with on the proposals. If successful, the work will be excellent building blocks for our work on health in the Pacific and with our Pacific Island Red Cross neighbours.

And now for the future, or is it!

On the weekend I watched this video from the World Economic Forum about automated decision making and AI. It looks at the impact of intended or unintended bias. 

Today we will be part of an announcement of $30 million over seven years from a prestigious grant from the Australian Research Council for a Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making and Society. We have been instrumental in this consortium bid which is led by RMIT. It is our next major step on Humanitech. The consortium includes 11 other universities, and some industry partners.  We were part of the small leadership team who developed the concept and steered it through the process over the past 12 months. The bid team was advised of success on Monday. Huge kudos to Amanda and Ivana from our Humanitech team under Penny Harrison’s leadership. The growing momentum of our initiative called Humanitech is significant and it is the trusted Red Cross emblem which is powering it.

More fires in NSW and QLD

Finally, as I write this, we have been activated in NSW and QLD to support communities impacted by the intense fires.  Another signal of a tough few months ahead of us all. 

Our amazing volunteers have been supporting people in evacuation centres in the immediate aftermath.  We have the National Coordination Centre up and running and we have also opened Register.Find.Reunite to support families who cannot contact their loved ones. 

Until next time,