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Annual Red Cross zone conferences, Global Ideas Forum + Big Cake Bake

12 September 2018

Hi everyone,


Australians have generously donated more than $10.9 million during August to help Aussie farmers. The appeal is now closed with some donations from planned events still coming in. Funds are already being distributed so we’re encouraging farmers in drought-affected parts of New South Wales and Queensland to apply for grants to help with their living expenses. We are proud to be playing our part in supporting people facing tough times. It’s what we do.


We’re also proud that as an organisation we put humanitarian need above all else. That’s why we continue to support people internationally, just as we support Australians doing it tough. Last week Peter Walton our Director of International Programs wrote about why cutting foreign aid would make the impact of the drought worse, because countries that receive foreign aid are also important trade partners. If you missed it, I encourage you to take a look.



Have your say on the future of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement

We’ve recently been sent information about the IFRC’s TalkFutures project, and I’d love to see Australian Red Cross staff, members and volunteers involved. The project runs between 17 and 30 September and will capture conversations and ideas from National Societies around the world looking at how the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement could adapt for the future. Sign up now to receive an electronic pack, including a mobile app to download. You’ll use the app to capture conversations with other volunteers and staff members with nine set topics to explore.


All the recorded conversations will then be available online, where participants can listen to viewpoints of their peers around the world. People can comment and react to interesting segments of each conversation.


All the ideas discussed in TalkFutures will contribute to the development of the IFRC’s Strategy 2030. The ten best ideas will also feature on the IFRC’s social media channels and blogs!


Great speakers at the annual Red Cross zone conferences in NSW


I was so lucky last week to hear some great stories at two Red Cross zone conferences in NSW.

In Wolumla, NSW, Zone 8 members and I talked about recovery from the Tathra fires and the significant risk of bushfires this season. We also talked about how Siri might help people who are vulnerable at home and about the potential to use tracing technologies to tell the stories of the people who receive Trauma Teddies.

It was a privilege to hear from Barry Irvine Executive Chairman of Bega Cheese. Barry began his life on the family dairy farm on the NSW south coast. As he says it, he ‘escaped’ to the city to start a career in the finance industry but when his dad died suddenly, he and his new wife moved back to the family farm. It was a major departure from his vision of the future, but despite this, he joined Bega Cheese as employee number 63. Barry worked his way up in the business as it grew from a small regional dairy company to one of the largest dairy companies in Australia.

Barry is a humble person who still often gets up at 2.30am to milk cows. He has a deep knowledge of how trends and shifts impact Australian dairy farmers and understands the importance of high quality, fresh food. Beyond Bega Cheese he and his wife set up and lead Giant Steps, an organisation supporting children and young adults with autism. In 2008 Barry was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for this work and his contribution to the Australian dairy industry. We talked about the drought and how much farmers appreciated the efforts to support them. He also acknowledged it is difficult for proud farming families to ask for help.

In Cooma, NSW, Zone 9 members and I heard from Yvi Henderson from the Cooma Multicultural Centre who spoke about the community welcoming new arrivals. She said: “Just one smile, it helps build a bridge; that’s how it starts.” She told a great story about a trip to the snow for newly arrived refugees. The community hired buses, the local snow gear company provided warm clothes and volunteers helped out. Yvi said the look on the faces of those who had never before seen snow was fantastic. You can see more on their Facebook page. Yvi also talked about a range of work to support refugees coming to Cooma – everything from employment and affordable housing, to helping the community adapt by supporting relationships to form and training businesses. She said Red Cross volunteers play an important role in this work.


Global Ideas Forum

On Sunday I’ll represent Red Cross at the Global Ideas Forum and deliver a speech on the future of work as it relates to global health, development and humanitarian work. In preparation, last week we sat down with a group of experts from across Red Cross and other organisations (including the Chair of Global Ideas) to get their thoughts. We talked about co-bots – humans and robots working together. We talked about how computer recognition of voice, eye movement and gestures could support people who are vulnerable – and how that might change the role of organisations and people who already support them. We talked about artificial intelligence, the gig economy and much more. We also shared a few interesting snippets –  including The 7 Forces That Will Change the Way You Work; and The Three Skill Sets to Develop for 2030.

The Global Ideas Forum encourages inter-disciplinary ideas for the future. I would love to get your thoughts on this subject - what the future of work will be like, what trends will shape it, what the opportunities are, what the risks are and what might it mean for our humanitarian work. 


Big Cake Bake


I know there are a lot of wonderful bakers throughout Red Cross (I’ve tasted a few delicious bakes!) and I’m really excited for the Big Cake Bake next month.

Big Cake Bake runs throughout October and is a fun and easy way to make a difference to the lives of people overcoming crisis. Hold a bake sale, a baking competition or host a morning tea, you can help raise vital funds for our work in Australia and beyond – whether that’s helping to build connected communities, supporting visitors to lonely or isolated people or delivering clean water to families in our region.

I encourage you to sign up for Team Red Cross here with your own team or office event!


Blog takeover next week

I’m on holidays this week so it’s time for another blog takeover – where people from across Red Cross get to share their stories.


I’d love to hear from you with your own weekly journal. Tell us what you’ve been doing – what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard, what surprised you. Please send through stories or items that you’d like to see in the blog by Friday 14 September.