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Thank you

11 September 2020

Thank you for your support

Hi everyone,

What a week it has been. 

Stepping down as CEO of this amazing organisation is momentous for me. 

Thank you for all your wonderful messages and support. Next week will be my last blog, so more to come on that!

Climate: Red Summit 

Climate change affects everyone, everywhere.

This week 10,000 people attended the virtual Climate: Red Summit, organised by the network of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.  We had a very active discussion on ways to drive climate change initiatives every day and to lead the change in how humanity adapts to climate change. 

I was on a panel to discuss the topic ‘From ambition to action to impact: How the Red Cross Red Crescent can make a difference in the Climate Crisis’. It was an interesting session where we were asked to share a personal story concerning climate change, and how we have to take action on climate as a National Society and a Movement. I talked about our experience supporting people affected by the bushfires, the challenges we faced and the lessons learned. I’m extremely proud of the work that we’ve done together and it doesn’t stop here. 

I also talked about the ways we need to engage with a variety of stakeholders, including local communities to build resilience, governments to invest in risk reduction programs, and with new partners like businesses. It’s important for us to learn from and hold each other to account, and also to our Pacific neighbours as we promote local leadership, and in transforming our own ways of working to be more climate smart.

Some of our colleagues also made significant contributions to the summit.

  • Jenny Brown (Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing & Place Based) and Lee Prouse (Regional Services Manager) spoke on ‘How Indigenous communities respond to Climate Change’. Jenny and Lee shared on how their communities are coping with these challenges and the innovative projects they are implementing, combining traditional knowledge with current technology.
  • Matt Fisher (Strategic Communications Manager) spoke about the journey of Australian Red Cross towards a climate policy, developed at a time when the national policy dialogue on climate change remains highly contested.
  • John Richardson (National Resilience Adviser) together with Professor Lisa Gibbs from the University of Melbourne discussed how the results from a longitudinal study on bushfire health and wellbeing impacts has influenced disaster risk reduction policy in Australia, and how this is shaping Red Cross' climate adaptation work.
  • Andrew Coghlan (Head of Emergency Services) and Fiona Tarpey (Head of Influence and Advocacy) shared the findings of the Pacific research, including an examination of the complexity on the ground of this intersection between climate change, disasters and a global pandemic. They also shared this in the context of the Australian experience, how to accelerate locally owned and led disaster response in the lead up the summer bushfire season and managing them in the face of COVID-19.
  • Veronica Bell (Head of International Technical Services) also hosted a session ‘Science to services to decisions in the Pacific’ which unpacked the barriers and opportunities to uptake of climate information services for risk informed decision-making at all levels in the Pacific. 
  • Mahendra Samarawickrama (Data Scientist) spoke from the data perspective on how to ‘Mitigate Risks related to Changing Earth’s Natural Soundscapes due to Climate Change’. He shared how data can be used to analyse the impact of climate change on the earth’s natural acoustic fabric.  
  • Both Zayne D’Crus (Creative Communications Manager) and Susan Cullinan (Media and PR Adviser) spoke on the topic of ‘Notre Dame vs Amazon Rainforest: Great Climate Comms’ where they shared the learnings from viral tweets and different perspectives to reach new audiences to tell them about our work on the climate emergency.

Thank you all for your contributions to this summit. We’re tracking down the session recordings and will share them with you when available.

Climate change has always been one of my biggest concerns and it’s great to be amongst these amazing humanitarians who are enabling the future to be better equipped to take action.

Pandemic friendly First Aid

Did you know that a person who has gone into cardiac arrest has an 80% chance of surviving if CPR is started in the first minute? This goes down to less than 5% survival chance if CPR is not started until 10 minutes later.

Our new research has revealed 82% of Australians are worried they could catch COVID-19 from a first aid emergency that involves performing CPR. The research also shows that over half of us (57%) are unsure whether we would actually step in to help administer first aid or CPR in an emergency situation, due to fears of contracting COVID-19. Millennials and Gen Zs (18-34-year-olds) were most convinced they would catch COVID-19 if they administered CPR during the pandemic.

However, in reality, the risk of transmission can be minimised with proper hygiene practices - something which is always crucial when administering first aid.

In order to help Aussies feel more confident to deploy first aid skills during the pandemic, this World First Aid Day (Saturday, 12 September), we are hosting free, COVID-friendly online workshops demonstrating how first aid procedures can be adapted and administered in a way that can help to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. The workshops will be presented by accredited Australian Red Cross first aid trainers online via Zoom at 9:30am and 11:30am.

When I leave Red Cross next Friday, I’ll be spending the coming month helping Peter to renovate our back deck.  So this online session is perfect timing!

I also encourage you take up this life skill and learn more about first aid. By taking a few simple actions to minimise risks, everyone can carry on giving life-saving first aid. 

Have you clocked your 10,000 steps? 

It’s amazing to see more than 200 Red Cross people taking part in the 10,000 steps in an attempt to stay healthy and connected. I love reading some of your comments – from taking inspiration from your pets (including a goldfish!) to creating your own playlist to motivate you to keep on going.  I’ve been able to get my steps done so far this week – by ‘walking & talking’.  That is, each day I have a bunch of phone calls I need to make so now I make them while I'm walking. 

If you’re in Victoria, you can do an extra hour of exercise starting from 11:59pm on Sunday 13 September. Yay!

Besides ‘walking and talking’, I’m also taking some time out to listen to some of my favourite songs which keeps me on my feet!

I hope you continue to keep walking and clock up your steps to break up your days and find balance, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Look out for invites on mindfulness and breathing sessions that our Work Health and Safety team has organised to help you stay fresh and focused.

There's more to say after R U OK?

On Thursday 10 September we marked R U OK? Day. It’s our national day of action when we remind Australians that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

But it's not limited to just one day. Checking in and having conversations continue long after R U OK? Day. Remember you don’t need to be an expert to reach out. Knowing a conversation can change a life, R U OK? inspires and empowers everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life.

For a start, you can join the Red Cross Take10 Challenge led by our colleagues from People and Culture and Workplace Health and Safety.

The Red Cross Take10 challenge steps are as follows:

  1. Attend one or more Red Cross virtual wellbeing sessions
  2. Call someone you’ve lost touch with and reconnect
  3. Find out what support is available in your workplace and write it down
  4. Check out our Mental Health & Wellbeing resources from Red Cross Australian Programs 
  5. Stay healthy, eat well and exercise for 15+ minutes once a day
  6. Learn the four steps to an R U OK? conversation
  7. Check out the EAP resources
  8. Reduce your exposure to news. Choose one source and check twice a day
  9. Set a time you will stop work or other home tasks every night and relax
  10. Commit to contacting one friend/family member every fortnight

You can also read these resources:

Asking and listening are simple gestures that could save a life. 

Commemorative coin to mark 150th Anniversary of the British Red Cross

The Royal Mint has released a commemorative coin to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross. It is the first time the British Red Cross has been commemorated on a UK coin.

The £5 coin features bears the words ‘The Power of Kindness’ illustrating the organisation’s credo of selflessness, compassion and goodwill. 

Our International Humanitarian Law team has worked closely with the Head of International Law at British Red Cross to help arrange the necessary authorisation to use the red cross emblem and the words “Red Cross” on the coins as they’re going to be sold in Australia.

Any use of the red cross emblem and Red Cross designation must be authorised by the Minister for Defence, per the Geneva Conventions Act. Hollie Johnston (IHL Adviser) was able to raise this matter with the Department of Defence a couple of weeks ago and have it expedited with the Minister (who actually offered her personal congratulations on the anniversary!) Well done team.

Saying goodbye to Veronica

This week we are saying goodbye to Veronica Frost, our Chief Information Officer.

Veronica is an amazing person, a wonderful humanitarian, a dedicated Red Cross person, a professional and highly capable CIO; so much so she was selected as one of Australia's top 50 CIOs. We will miss her as she brings a unique mix of being highly skilled and very human. But I also think how fortunate we have been to have Veronica at the helm of our ICT team for 11 years.

Of all her achievements, what Veronica is most proud of is leading the IT Team and the personal growth of individuals she has witnessed.

  • In 2015 transitioning the team from being technically siloed into a cohesive and customer service-oriented IT department.
  • Growing a passionate, dedicated and resilient IT team who is ready for any challenge thrown at them
  • In 2019, transitioning the next evolution of the IT team into Agile ways of working which now underpin our operating and strategic delivery model.
  • The introduction of Agile Coaching and Iteration management, the IT team is continually learning, adapting through each iteration, the only way is up from here.

Thank you Veronica for all your contributions to Red Cross. We will miss you.

Further Back in Time for Dinner on ABC iView

Time to relax and catch up on some tele. Watch Further Back In Time for Dinner - Episode 2 on ABC iView. The episode shows the Ferrone women making some ‘Dripping Biscuits’ from the 1915 Red Cross cookery book, published to help raise funds for wounded soldiers. They then sell these biscuits (rebranded as lemon drop scones) with actual Red Cross members who were raising money for the bushfire relief.

It’s a great blast from the past and a beautiful memory of how long Red Cross has been around to help those in need. 

Take care.