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Our strategy, volunteers in the prison system + how to #ThinkHuman

17 April 2019

Hi everyone,

I wanted to start with an update on our strategy. We and the Board have decided that the next Australian Red Cross strategy will commence in 2022.

We’re extending our current strategy for three reasons: to finish what we started in Strategy 2020; to build from the international Red Cross Strategy 2030 (released next year); and do the deep analysis and thinking to fully inform what comes next for us.

We’ve made significant shifts in the last three years: from new ways to mobilise people, to successful advocacy for disaster risk reduction, to co-design with clients and communities, to creating high-quality digital products. Not to mention the incredible work which happens every day in communities across Australia; our responses to major disasters and emergencies; the work we do on the laws of war; supporting refugees and asylum seekers; and working with our colleagues in Asia-Pacific – just to name a few! You can see here how we’re tracking on our S2020 outcomes.

At the same time we use the next 1.5 years to finish what we started with our 2020 goals, we also need to give ourselves the time to look ahead properly.  To look to 2030 to understand who will be most vulnerable and why, how communities and economies are changing, how workplaces can evolve, and how people and communities can adapt to a changing climate and its impacts.

All these things will shape our next strategy but we want to focus on completing our current goals by next year before we embark towards the next 10 years.

RCRC staff abducted in Syria  

This week the International Committee of the Red Cross made a public call for the release of three Red Cross Red Crescent colleagues who were kidnapped in Syria more than five years ago.

New Zealand citizen Louisa Akavi and Syrian nationals Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes were abducted from a Red Cross convoy delivering medical supplies in 2013. ICRC has credible information that Louisa is still alive but no word at all of Alaa and Nabil.

We have offered our support to our New Zealand Red Cross colleagues, and we hold out hope for the release of Louisa, Alaa and Nabil. 

Volunteers in the prison system 

Our work in community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) in prisons continues to grow. We are now delivering the program in two correctional facilities across NSW and QLD with a third site in WA underway; adapting as we go to suit the Australian prison environment and communities.

In NSW, Red Cross volunteers have worked on hygiene promotion and drug and alcohol harm reduction in partnership with Justice Health and Corrective Services. A highlight was the Christmas Project, which provided gifts for children visiting fathers and uncles. Volunteers are running weekly fitness bootcamp programs for the broader community on site and, with the support of Boxing NSWthey can gain fitness accreditation to train other inmates.

In QLD, we have 30 active volunteers and have received 87 expressions of interest from women at Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre. Aboriginal Elders are part of the program’s steering group, called the Community Health Action Committee. Engaging Elders in this group has enabled conversations with women, Queensland Health and Corrections staff on cultural wellbeing, as well as the rapid acceptance of the program amongst the community.

Here’s what the program participants are saying.

“During Red Cross things changed – We got to start projects, the Christmas project was unreal. That weekend was the best thing I have done in my life in or out of jail.” - Participant NSW 

“I haven’t been able to read or write my whole life. It was me and my wife’s anniversary the other day and I was able to read her a poem. That was nice. I wouldn’t have been able to do that before.” - Participant NSW


I’ve also recently learned about the 'cancel culture' thanks to the group of young Red Cross volunteers who led the #THINKHUMAN campaign in light of the Victorian Youth Week last week.

The goal of the campaign was to have young volunteers identify a social issue they wished to tackle and raise awareness about. Cancelling is a form of cyberbullying, an act of actively boycotting people who share an unpopular opinion or controversial view of a subject matter on social media. It can exacerbate someone’s pre-existing mental health issues or even induce it.

The volunteers spoke to students from various universities and at the Youth Affairs Council VIC event. They will be reaching out to more young people in the coming weeks, and sharing their campaign messages online.

Spread the word and share their message together with the ‘Be Nice’ card above on your socials with the hashtag #THINKHUMAN.  

You can’t ask that

If you have some time over the long Easter break, I encourage you to spend 30 minutes to watch this moving segment from the ABC show ‘You Can’t Ask That’ – featuring eight disaster survivors who talk about how they survived, what exactly happened and where their lives are at now. It gives you a good understanding of why our preparedness and recovery work is so important.

That's all from me this week. If you're planning to take a road trip this long weekend, remember to drive safe.  I’ll be away next week so we'll have a guest blogger – watch this space!