Is Red Cross Prepared
The seasonal forecasts told us we we needed to do more than usual to be ready for this summer.
A key for us is to ensure that we have the right people in the right places with appropriate skills to meet any demand, by reviewing our current workforce, identifying gaps and recruiting new volunteers to address those gaps.
We have just over 4000 amazing and highly skilled volunteers who drop everything to support others in times of disaster. We are bringing on another 800 for the summer season. Our focus is on areas of highest risk, particularly along the Eastern Seaboard of the country.
As a key player in all State and Territory emergency management plans our emergency services teams are involved in a range of pre summer exercises and planning forums. These activities ensure that when the balloon goes up, agencies work collaboratively to provide the best possible support to communities in their time of need.
And of course we have a strong focus on the well-being of all Red Cross people working in the field. We have strengthened our support, based on feedback from volunteers over the past few years, by making sure that shift lengths are manageable, strengthening our independent well-being checks, and revamping our briefing and debriefing of people going into the field.
We’re also ramping up our activities to encourage and support people to get ready for heatwaves. In South Australia this includes touching base with all of our clients who are registered for the Telecross Redi heatwave program and promoting the service widely. We’re also going to use our existing services like Telecross, transport and other social support programs to start talking to people about how to be prepared for heatwaves.
Sharing a Powerful Story
Some of you may have seen on ABC’s 7.30 last night the story of Hayfa, one of hundreds of Yazidi rebuilding her life in Tawoomba, QLD.
In the lead up to the day of the disappeared, the Media Team set out to tell a powerful human story about our tracing work, targeting a major outlet. They worked together with the Tracing Team who introduced them to Hayfa and worked diligently to help her tell her story through one of the country’s most watched news programs.
Hayfa was separated from her husband when ISIS came to their village in northern Iraq. What she endured is confronting to hear but her bravery for the sake of her children and her quest to find answers about her husband are even more powerful. I encourage you to watch it.
Testing our migration supports with people who use them.
Last week the folks in our Migration team spent time with people who have had to seek asylum, to get their advice on Project Safety Net. This human-centred design project has worked with Red Cross clients past and present, and people with experiences of seeking asylum to improve our emergency relief work. This work provide a ‘safety net’ of financial and material aid for people seeking asylum, who have little or no access to mainstream services or support.
The sessions were facilitated by one of our past Red Cross clients, Amir Abdi, a community leader and a refugee himself. Whilst Amir ran the session in North Melbourne, the team was delighted to look after Amir’s guide dog Sally who charmed the office for belly rubs.
By asking very specific questions about the ways in which people would like to be supported, and opportunities to improve our design we can improve the way we support people seeking safety in Australia, and ensure that their voice is at the centre of our work.
Remembering Red Cross worker 18 years after 9/11 attacks
Wednesday marked 18 years since the 9/11 attacks in the USA. Among those killed was Red Cross volunteer and staff member Yvonne Kennedy. Her son Simon Kennedy recently spoke to news.com.au about his mother - "I’ve always had this idea in my mind that she would have been comforting people and looking after those around her… she was the kind of person who would have been holding someone’s hand."
Our thoughts are with everyone who lost someone they love on that terrible day.
Until next week,