We find ourselves once again mourning the loss of lives of our Red Cross Red Crescent colleagues overseas. On Saturday, the atrocious bombing in Mogadishu killed around 300 people - it is the deadliest single attack in Somalia's history. What a terrible loss of life.
Tragically, the explosion was near the local Red Crescent office - and five of our ICRC colleagues were among the dead.
The season for AGMs
Each of our State Divisions has their AGM at this time of year, and I was able to join a couple of them. The focus was very much on sharing and recording stories of the good deeds done by Red Cross members. Here are a few highlights:
In Mandurah, WA, Ron Withnell has established a Red Cross unit and found a brilliant way to connect with people outside of regular unit meetings. He talked with local community members and then with the City of Mandurah about our ‘Hey Neighbour’ Emergency Preparedness initiative. The City agreed to fund a BBQ get-together for people to invite their neighbours and enjoy a simple way to say hi, a place to start to get to know each other and build local connections. Ron hasn’t stopped there – he’s also pitched an idea to test in our Phase II of the ‘people taking action’ Strategy 2020 framework.
In Albany, community members and shop customers make reusable bags from T-Shirts and other donated items that don’t sell. Also in WA, we heard about the members in Cranbrook who are preparing emergency toilet bags for people admitted to Mount Barker Hospital, and in Safety Bay, our team is holding a Christmas party for nearly 70 aged care residents.
In NSW we heard from Judith Jackson about their #HINIVUU packs (here’s a test for you – it’s an acronym of our seven fundamental principles). They are knitted by residents in aged care facilities in Northern NSW, and they include a trauma teddy, blanket, beanie and booties. Initially, the #HINIVUU packs were given to mums and bubs needing assistance from the NSW air ambulance, but the branches have since had requests from paediatric emergency units and maternity units to make sure that any family experiencing trauma receives this much-needed boost.
When it came to brainstorming what the future of membership might look like the members in NSW came up with words like: flexible, mobile, intermittent, response to community needs, more diverse, digital, people contributing in many ways, and not tied to meetings. This is part of the ‘twin-track’ we’re keen to pursue. That is, supporting existing Branches and members to do even more in their communities while also creating what the future of membership might look like.
The development of our Annual Report goes hand in hand with our AGMs, and last week was crunch-time in getting this important document ready for approval by our Board.
It is impressive reading. I thought I’d pull out some of the statistics to show you what we achieved across the country in the last financial year:
- 50,000 attended our first aid courses, giving them the skills to save a life
- 3,200 volunteers and staff responded to 36 emergencies, supporting nearly 54,000 people
- We supported nearly 7,000 people seeking asylum
- We helped 1,116 individuals living with a disability, injury or health condition to find 370 jobs
780,500 phone calls were made to people who are lonely or isolated.
Get Prepared for emergencies with our new app
I’m really pleased to share news of the release of Get Prepared, a mobile application that builds upon RediPlan, our flagship disaster preparedness resource.
The app will help people prepare for any type of emergency, giving them tools and tips on how to connect with their key support people, accomplish simple tasks to make themselves and loved ones safer, and protect the things that matter most. Some of the key features include:
- Establishing a network of support through a ‘Key 3 contacts’ function
- Making a plan using checklists
- Saving your emergency plan as a PDF that can be printed and shared with others
We’ve developed the app in partnership with Insurance Australia Group (IAG) and it is the ‘first cut’ – available on Apple devices. We’ll keep improving and adapting it.
I’ve downloaded it and am 30% done in my plan. It is a great app. Please also help us spread the word by encouraging everyone you know to download it and develop their plan.
You can visit redcross.org.au/getprepared for details or, if you’re reading this blog on your iPhone go to the App Store to download it.
Forced labour, it happens in Australia
Our migration support team has produced a new video to help all of us recognise the signs of forced labour in Australia. Forced labour is a form of slavery, and migrants or people seeking refuge are especially at risk because they might not be aware of their work rights here in Australia, have limited English and job options, and have families to support.
This video talks about what forced labour is, who it affects, what the signs are and what you can do if you suspect a case of forced labour.
Our MSP team offers training in this area but for those who live in regional areas or are unable to attend, please be sure to watch the video.