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More thoughts from Acting CEO, Cameron Power

14 November 2017

Hi everyone,

Looks like you’re stuck with me for one more week as Judy finishes off representing us at the IFRC General Assembly in Turkey. While I’ve got your attention, I’d like to give an insight into one of the key ongoing focus areas for the Executive. Data.

Did you know the amount of data in the world doubles approximately every two years? 

That’s quite incredible, but in the information age, perhaps not surprising. Yes, data is fast becoming an organisation’s most important asset, behind its workforce. It helps us reach more vulnerable people more effectively, and improves relationships with donors and supporters. Behind every 2020 strategic objective are data-based impact measures and indicators which guide our path, assisting us to make informed decisions.

Here are some of the ways the Executive considers data on a regular basis:

  • We have an obligation to protect sensitive information, especially information about our clients and payment transactions. Cyber security is a global risk and our Trust Initiative, sponsored through the IT team, is aimed at protecting our most sensitive data.
  • We are developing new capabilities to report and interpret information, with support from our new Business Intelligence capability in Strategy and Performance.
  • Data integrity is everyone’s responsibility. We need to ensure it's accurate. Our transactional systems such as HR and Finance generate rich data, and everyone who uses these systems is responsible for entering it correctly.

So once a month we take the time to review data. Maybe it sounds boring, but it helps us track our progress towards our goals, enables us to shift resources to areas that need it most, and provides assurance that controls are working to mitigate risks. To me, that’s exciting stuff.

Joint effort for the Myanmar crisis

This is major news for Red Cross and an important development in our ongoing appeal for funds for the crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. On the weekend, Acting Prime Minister, Julie Bishop launched a joint initiative with us and seven other aid organisations. We’re working together to raise life-saving funds to provide more shelter, clean water, health care and protection for hundreds of thousands of people surviving violence. The ABC will be supporting the appeal with stories about all our work from this Sunday.

As part of this appeal, the Federal Government will match public donations of up to $5 million to Australian Red Cross and Australia for UNHCR.

I join with Judy in her recent emails, asking you to please speak with your networks and rally as much support for this appeal as you can. Whether you share the news on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, make a small donation yourself, or talk about it with family and friends – it all makes a difference.

Radical Rethink

Thought leadership from our International team

There’s an article I wanted to share with you, published on the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement magazine, and written by Fiona Tarpey (Manager, International Strategy and Policy) and Peter Walton (Director, International). In time for the Statutory Meetings in Turkey last week, they’ve raised some important issues around the challenges facing the humanitarian sector around the world:

There is a growing chorus of voices — disruptors and seasoned operators — arguing that the current humanitarian ecosystem is no longer fit for purpose, no longer able to meet present needs, let alone be ready for the future.

Climate change, mass migration, more intense and frequent natural disasters, protracted conflicts, cyber security threats, emerging pandemics, famine — fast forward ten years or so and all these present day challenges will be compounded by a world one degree warmer, with 1 billion more people, and rapidly growing resource and wealth inequality.

If the system isn’t working now, hold on tight…

Fiona and Peter discuss the ‘aid cyclone’ – where, in a crisis situation, aid organisations compete to demonstrate how their individual activities produce the greatest effect, only to be judged on their potential to achieve isolated impact. They talk about a sector-wide cultural change that would reward collective impact. For the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – such a complex network of interconnected yet autonomous entities – this is especially relevant.

I encourage you to read the article in full.


Investigating fraud during the Ebola crisis

The IFRC sent us an important message about fraud last week. Their investigations into the Ebola effort of 2014-2016 found up to 6 million Swiss francs (approximately AUD $8 million) may have been misappropriated, diverted or otherwise illegally taken in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Following this announcement, we have confirmed that funds from the Australian Red Cross appeal were highly unlikely to have been illegally taken. Australia's contribution to IFRC operations at the time was roughly AUD $490,000 but it was used in a way that is unlikely to be part of any fraud that has been identified.

Red Cross has zero tolerance for fraud. The IFRC and National Societies involved are pursuing every avenue to reclaim funds and any staff involved will be held to account.

Here is our official statement.