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Typhoon Hagibis | #Goodhumans | Preserving space for humanitarian action in northeast Syria

17 October 2019

Bushfires in NSW & QLD

Hi everyone,

It's been a hectic week filled with news of natural disasters, from one of the worst typhoons to sweep Japan in decades, to bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales. 

A large bush fire continues to burn in the area of Busbys Flat, Myrtle Creek, Wyan and Rappville in NSW. To date, it has burned approximately 47,790 hectares and is not yet under control.

A total of 61 homes have been destroyed across NSW, with seven community structures lost and 151 outbuildings destroyed.

We have been supporting people impacted by the ongoing bushfire activity across the state. 

In Queensland, fires in Laidley and Grandchester forced the evacuation of 120 residents and destroyed one home. Register.Find.Reunite was stood up to support families who cannot contact their loved ones. 

If you’re in the area or have friends and family nearby, keep a lookout for updates and stay safe. 

Typhoon Hagibis in Japan

Over the weekend, Typhoon Hagibis ripped across Japan in full force.

Roads were cut off, homes flooded, bullet trains submerged, and Rugby World Cup matches were cancelled.

The death toll has reached 74 as rescuers continue to search for the missing, and thousands of homes remain without water or power. 

Red Cross spokesperson Caroline Haga who is currently in Japan tweeted on Monday: “Families have lost all their belongings. Shops their merchandise. Roads have been washed away. Heart breaking.”

Caroline also spoke about the challenges in delivering assistance during these precarious times. You can watch her interview on ABC TV The World (17:25 onwards). 

A massive rescue operation is underway in Japan. Public transportation services such as trains and airlines have resumed the operation on 13 October 2019, however, some transportation facilities were heavily damaged by floods. 

Preserving humanitarian access in northeast Syria

As you would have read in the news, more than 100,000 displaced people are seeking shelter in makeshift camps in northeast Syria. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Australian Red Cross call on all actors in the region to preserve space for humanitarian action so that people can receive the help they need.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been visiting camps and places of detention in Syria, doing its best to support communities in dire need of humanitarian services.

You can read our statement on the situation in Syria and our calls for all actors to respect the laws of war. There is also media coverage including a story about Syria's refugees who fled to cities without food or water and Ruth Hetherington from ICRC featured on ABC radio

Blood Service celebrates 90th anniversary

Yesterday, the Blood Service marked its 90th anniversary. That’s 90 years of lifesaving work, thanks to the Blood Service and millions of Australians who have so willingly donated their blood. 

The development in 1929 of Australia’s first major blood transfusion service was the beginning of what has become one of the most significant achievements of Australian Red Cross. 

Like the beginnings of Australian Red Cross this work was led by a woman, Dr Lucy Bryce, and just like the rest of our work it relied on dedicated volunteers. 

In the same way that Henry Dunant envisaged volunteers ready to respond to war and disaster, Dr Bryce knew that with a panel of volunteer blood donors, tested in advance, and ready to be called on when needed, she could save lives. 

I’m so proud of the special connection we share and that Australian Red Cross was the birthplace of what has become such a dynamic and innovative organisation. 

What I love most though is that despite all the advancements made, when we look back on the work of Red Cross, the basic principles of what we do remain the same. That the humanity of the people we help is always at the centre of what we do and that people continue to give of themselves simply for the reward of being part of this movement and helping others.

Thank you to all the donors, volunteers and staff of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, you are the ‘lifeblood’ of this incredible work.

Community action in Mount Burr

Mount Burr is a small isolated community of some 360 people in the South East of South Australia, 50 km Northeast of Mount Gambier.

It is a town that grew up around the timber mill, and when the mill closed, many of the people remained. It has about 130 people in work at last census, 150 over 65 and 130 people living alone and the average weekly income is about $420. 

Recently, a resident of some 50 years and his dog perished in a house fire. Given he was well known in that community it was devastating for that small town, many of whom are still in shock.

Within 24 hours, the Mount Gambier Red Cross Office sought and received over 100 smoke detectors, donated by Banner Mitre 10 and Quell, and commenced arrangements through the Red Cross Home Handyman Service to have them fitted for free to all houses in the town that didn’t have one.

Red Cross also held an open forum in the town’s only shop where we discussed transport options for the residents, access to our handyman service to keep them in their homes longer, as well as a range of social supports including trips out of the town for shopping and social outings. It was greatly appreciated by the locals who previously had no access to these services.

What a great initiative in Mount Burr.

Running for asylum seekers and do-it-yourself fundraising 

A few crazy Red Crossers (including me) signed up to run part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival as a way of raising money to support refugees and people seeking asylum. You can see how they raised the funds (currently standing at $5,623). The team of runners were:

Mighty marathon runners: Kyla Raby, Chris Kwong, Nick Fabbri

Hasty half marathoners: Jessica Gehrig, Vicki Mau, Alec Simpson, Lizzy Keegan, Jess Van Son (in absentia)

Tough 10 km-ers: Judy Slatyer, Sam Clifford, Sam Fuller, Jane Munro, Jadie Hunter, Ben Cameron, Nicholas Bayly-Jones

Fiesty fivers: Yvette Zegenhagen, Lola Simpson, Zefer Simpson

The photos include the carbo-loading event the day before plus a photo of the group after the event. Kyla also sent around this video the day after which we all had a good giggle at.

One of the things I love about this is that any of us can set up a Red Cross fundraising team for anything at any time using the website. It can be a specific event you are holding yourselves or attaching you yourself to another event (like the Melbourne Marathon Festival).  

Another option I heard about on the weekend was one from our Tweed Heads Branch. They have worked with their regional manager Janelle Cazaubon, to get set up with a ‘tap and go’ arrangement for their forthcoming annual Christmas present wrapping event. Again, all linked to Red Cross and making it easy for the many of us who no longer use cash. We’re also going to be experimenting early next year with wearable fundraising technology! No it isn’t inserted into your skin but it might well end up being part of your Red Cross gear by embedding or sewing on a QR code. As an example, you can watch the video here. Watch this space!


This month our REDxYouth members have launched Good Humans. It’s a new initiative to uncover and celebrate the ways young people are making a difference big or small in our communities. 

Throughout the month they’re sharing stories of young people taking action on issues that matter. Some of these young people are just so exceptional their passion and commitment on issues from mental health to climate change, poverty, education and homelessness is inspiring. 

REDxYouth want all Red Cross people to get involved by following the #goodhumans hashtag, and by giving a shout-out to some of the #goodhumans in your life. 

Until next time,