This time of year
Last week it was good to have a quiet return to work after a lovely and complete break since Christmas Eve. While I’m conscious this time of year means different things to different people and that it can be a tough time of year for some, I hope that many of you had a well-deserved and happy break and were able to celebrate what was important to you.
Thanks to those of you who helped out over that time – being there for people shopping at our shops, our involvement in the response to the Sunda Strait tsunami, timely messages on social media on first aid for drowning, jelly fish stings etc, suggestions on preparing for heatwaves and other helpful suggestions to ‘stay safe’ in summer. And of course, being on-the-ready and helping out.
There were a few which stood out for me over the period.
For the community of Darlington, the New Year brought with it a fast moving fire in the early afternoon. The fire resulted in the need for many to put their bushfire preparedness plans into action. For some children in the area this meant packing their precious belongings in their pillowcases, provided through the Red Cross Pillowcase Project. We have been working with local schools in the Darlington area since 2015 delivering preparedness lessons to many Year 3 and 4 students. Great to hear of the pillowcases being used in action.
We also ran our ‘Season of Belonging’ campaign led by our Engagement and Support team over the last few weeks and included other initiatives like these - Make a Difference - A how-to guide to helping others and changing the world – and 13 must-see movies that will change the way you see the world.
Our colleagues at the Blood Service have also had a strong response to their Blood Blitz and Secret Santa campaigns over the Christmas and New Year period. They are currently tracking 9% above their target. Plus for the first time, plasma collections have eclipsed whole blood collections. What a great result. The next big focus for them is the Australia Day long weekend. Let’s all try to donate for this one and see what can be achieved.
Across the country we remain prepared for the peak period of emergency response. Forecasts remain warmer and drier than average for the next three months and of course we have had a number of teams already responding to significant or unusual activities. The high likelihood of heatwave continues. Our Red Cross teams are trained and ready to support whatever happens – fingers crossed we won’t need to.
As we know, the drought, exacerbated by the summer heat, continues to hit hard. So another achievement over the past few weeks is that we have now sent $9.5m of the drought appeal funds to our partners and they have in turn distributed $7.5m to farming families who are under extreme pressure. I continue to marvel at the generosity of Australians who donated $11m in just one month. And just before the break we heard that we have been successful in raising significantly more funds from a corporate sponsor for a drought resilience program which we’ll roll out this year.
I know there was much more that happened over the past few weeks when most of us were taking a holiday. I know this effort was supported by many Red Cross people. To those who did so, thank you. To those who are returning after a break, welcome back.
Reflecting and looking to the year ahead
One of the things I’ve done this week is looked ahead for the next six months. We have also kicked off the mid-year review of what’s been achieved or not achieved in the past six months. We’ll share all this as soon as we have it together.
Here are just some snippets of what’s coming up and a contact if you want to know more.
- full launch of our member platform which is now in pilot phase – this allows members to share ideas, suggestions and tools for what they are doing in their communities with each other – Keira –firstname.lastname@example.org
- the launch of mental health co-designed My Team app – for those experiencing mental health challenges to create their own support team around them – Bec - email@example.com
- the ongoing rollout of our Get Prepared initiatives – Jacqui - firstname.lastname@example.org
- the next phase of Beat Loneliness – Ebony – email@example.com
- the launch of our new digital payment gateway – Veronica – firstname.lastname@example.org
- agreeing our new international humanitarian aid partnership – Peter – email@example.com
- embedding international humanitarian law in the practice of Australian companies working in war zones – Fauve - firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the break I also had a chance to catch up on some great reading. Much of it was fiction with books like The Milkman and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’ve included some links below to other interesting snippets I found.