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Things to be proud of in 2017

13 December 2017

Hi everyone,

We have achieved many wonderful things together this year. Today’s blog is being taken over by your peers, as we celebrate some of these achievements. Enjoy the read below, I certainly did!

Sharing culture, experience and skills at our Young Humanitarians Camp
By Ana Radovic, Youth Engagement and Development Officer and Hedda Ngan, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Migration Support Program (MSP)

After the success of our inaugural Young Humanitarians Camp in 2016, we were thrilled to get funding for another camp from the Australian Camps Association in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. On 17 November we headed out to Wombat Corner in Emerald, VIC. There were 25 of us in total – Red Cross volunteers, members, and Migration Support Program clients supported by a few of our staff. Once again, Victoria Police generously provided free transportation, and Kathmandu donated our camping gear. One of our working group members trekked all the way to Ballarat to bring down water bottles donated by Central Highlands Water and other members of the group asked local supermarkets for vouchers for food.

The camp created a really nice bond for a great group of young people. Everyone fully participated in all the activities – from reflecting on what makes a strong community, to creative projects and sports, to learning from Aboriginal Elders and staff about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. A noted highlight by staff and participants was the incredibly personal sharing of culture, experience and skills by one of the camp participants from an Indigenous background, as well as the openness of many to share their own life experiences, dreams and challenges. Everyone made their unique commitments towards better communities, as new friendships and connections between young community leaders bloomed. Here's a short video.

Carol, an Australian Red Cross supporter writes Christmas cards with the assistance of Natalia from the SA Hub; and girls from a local school make cards for clients in our Migration Support Programs

Our greeting card project to support refugees
By Sarah Soteriou, Manager, Stakeholder Engagement and Development

Over the last few weeks, the SA Hub team have been promoting the Season of Belonging with a Season’s Greetings Card Project. This project is a great example of how we can mobilise the community to achieve Strategy 2020. Volunteers can buy or make a greeting card, write a message of support or well wishes, and the card will then be provided to refugees at their Christmas celebration in December.  
We have received greeting cards from a range of community groups, Red Cross members and volunteers, school children as well as corporate supporters. So far, we have received over 200 cards and there are many more to come!

The Kulgoodah Dancers were announced as winners of Dance Rites in Sydney. Image by the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.

The Kulgoodah Dancers

Recently the Kulgoodah Dancers, from Woorabinda, took out the winning spot in National Dance Rites Competition in Sydney. As a result, Yothu Yindi have asked them to perform at the GARMA Festival next year, and they may dance at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

Stephen Collins, Sam Meeks, Dennis Ware and their whole team have been supporting this initiative and a couple of them travelled down with them on the weekend, plus staff whose children were involved.

When the dancers arrived back in Woorabinda on Tuesday, at least half the community met them on the outskirts of town and they went to the cemetery to acknowledge what Elders past had passed on to them.

The community made this happen. What a wonderful initiative. There is a video on their Facebook page, please take a look if you have a moment.

Also of note: Woorabinda is now ranking in the top five communities for school attendance, starting from one of the lowest. We are seeing great results for our partnership with the community.

A standing ovation at a Mental Health Symposium
By Kerry McGrath, Head of Community Programs

This year our co-design initiative has truly changed lives. Marcus DeGiglio (pictured above) is 28 years old, and before he started working with us on our “New Pathways to Mental Wellbeing” co-design project, he saw his mental health as a barrier to almost everything.

He has consulted with us as a consumer, sharing his lived experience of anxiety and mental health issues, and recently, he teamed up with our Regional Area Coordinator, Rebecca Cunningham to overcome one of his greatest fears – public speaking – by presenting on our co-design approach at the 9th Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in Albury.

See the presentation in this 20 minute video, which Marcus himself edited together. If you’re still not sure what our co-design project is all about, please do take a look – or enjoy this shorter version. You’ll hear some incredibly inspiring words from participants about their experiences: “I saw people’s shoulders lift and their heads lift, just that they’d been asked for their opinion.”

A lot of work went into these videos. Marcus and the team sourced interviews from other co-design participants across the three sites where we’ve been working, and Marcus cut it all together to show our journey. No wonder that at the end of their presentation, Marcus and Rebecca received a standing ovation!

Our co-design project is all about engaging with consumers, carers, service providers, volunteers and Red Cross staff to do things differently and build better solutions for vulnerable people. We’re thrilled that through this process, Marcus now feels empowered to consider becoming a volunteer, where he will be able to continue working alongside Red Cross.

Reaching more people with our message of preparedness
By Collin Sivalingum, Qld State Emergency Services Manager

Our team of culturally and linguistically diverse preparedness volunteers have been working hard to spread the message in migrant communities in south-east Queensland.

This year alone, we've used body percussion, lantern making workshops, TAFE classes, migrant support services, Pillowcase Project lessons, radio interviews and multicultural festivals to spread the word.  

Our final achievement for the year was the community service announcement that we recently recorded at Radio 4EB, the Brisbane-based ethnic broadcaster. Seven members of our team were recorded reading the short emergency preparedness message in Italian, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, Ma'di (Sudanese/Uganda language), Indonesian and English. These messages have been scheduled to play on 4EB and we're also hoping to get it on SBS radio. The messages are general enough to be used Australia-wide so if you like to use any of them within your community we'd love to share them with you!

The Sista Girls at our Retreat from the Street

A local police officer carries our “Take the oath” banner at our White Ribbon Day event in Cairns. The oath is something people agree to when they join our local community centre: “If something is not right, I speak up.”

North Queensland community spirit
By Kathryn Cunneen, Regional Manager Northern Queensland

This year we held Retreat from the Street events for men, women and Sista Girls who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Townsville. The Retreats give participants the chance to talk to our case managers and other agencies about available services that meet their needs and aspirations. For years, we’ve been building a relationship with the Sista Girls in Townsville (you can take a look at this video for more information). Retreat from the Street is just another way we are helping to break down barriers and make sure they feel comfortable, confident and supported.

We also held two White Ribbon Day events in November in partnership with Cairns Safer Streets Taskforce, QLD Police, Ambulance, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, Balaclava and Cairns West State Schools. These events gave us the opportunity to lead a community message of respect and gender equity. These activities ended with a march from the schools and Manoora Community Centre and Mooroobool Hub. Over 200 children participated in both events with over 100 parents and community members involved also. Here’s an article the QLD police wrote about the day.

The Advertiser in Adelaide took this picture of Red Cross member and baking extraordinaire, Rica, with Ceryce Guerra, one of our Peer Support Workers in SA

We baked the world a better place
By Rhian Mathias, Digital Community Campaign Executive

We celebrated another Big Cake Bake this year – a chance for us to enjoy delicious treats to help raise funds for our services around Australia and overseas. Almost 500 Big Cake Bake events were held around the country with support from 128 branches, 314 staff, external and community fundraisers, and sponsors at The Cheesecake Shop. My team would like to thank all of the members, volunteers, staff, corporate partners and community organisations for their generosity and great baking spirit – we couldn’t run this campaign without them!

One of the highlights from this year was hearing about 92 year old Rica, who has been baking and fundraising for Red Cross for decades. Just this year, she stepped down as President of the Seaton branch, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for us over the years. She told the local paper: “I think I’m old enough to keep out of the way of the new people wanting to bake for a good cause…” before saying she will still pop her apron back on for us from time to time. It’s great to know we’ve got so much support out there from our branches, especially as we ramp up to our 70th anniversary of Red Cross Calling in March next year!

What a year!

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story – we couldn’t feature them all. This is the tip of the iceberg for the year. For example Red Cross people (staff, volunteers and members) worked together to make 800,000 calls to check-in on people at home, provide 50,000 first aid courses, respond to 36 major emergency events, visit 46,000 isolated people, raise funds and support 7,000 asylum seekers.

Within Red Cross we made major leaps in our fundraising, developed our digital capability, improved our finances, improved the security of the sensitive personal data we hold, embedded social and ethical practices into our procurement and launched our Ethical Framework (by the way we all need to complete this online eLearning module before the end of the year. Please click here to access yours today.) Again there's more, but too much to mention here.

It all adds up to a year of which we can all be very proud.

A final word from me!

I’m off on Friday on four weeks holiday for some quality time with Peter and my family and then a hike in New Zealand in early January with friends (subject to my foot and fitness being OK after I farewelled the moonboot and scooter last week). Chris Wheatley will be our acting CEO. 

I wish you all the best for the festive season. Thank you for everything you have done for Red Cross and those who we care about in 2017.