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Building a humanitarian nation, Cooks, Books and a bit of Harry Potter

19 June 2019

Building a humanitarian nation

Hi everyone, 

Globally over 13.7 million people volunteer and act in other ways through Red Cross. Here in Australia, a total of 1.9 million people have taken over 3 million actions – whether that’s reaching out to someone isolated, purchasing through our retail stores, making a donation or holding a fundraiser, connecting through REDxYouth, responding to disasters, helping run Red Cross shops or many other ways. Members and volunteers are at the core of this group. That’s a load of people around Australia doing their bit for humanity.

I’ve asked Penny to take over a section of this week’s blog to share some learnings and trends on volunteering.

Volunteering into the future
By Penny Harrison (Director, Volunteering)

The Ad Hoc Working Group on Volunteering provides advice through several channels to the Governing Board of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. The most recent meeting included representatives from Georgia, Spain, Zimbabwe, Honduras, Italy, Denmark, and Australia.

We talked about a bunch of things including common standards for the safety and security of volunteers, to how we onboard and train volunteers, to protective equipment and insurance. Honduras Red Cross gave practical examples of how vital these standards are for volunteers operating in conflict and other emergency settings.  

These talks lead to loads of learning and highlights just how quickly volunteering is transforming with a focus on mobilisation:

  • The Danish Red Cross are the power behind Boblberg helping people to connect and act locally. It has over 170,000 participants.
  • Zimbabwe Red Cross talked about youth volunteers wanting opportunities for growth and leadership.
  • The Spanish Red Cross showcased Tecsos a social tech collaboration with the Vodafone Foundation. Projects include ‘join-us service’ connecting people who are isolated or living with a disability; mobile telecare, and entamar – an augmented reality application for children staying long-term in hospital.

At the heart it is all about making taking action as easy, attractive, social and timely as possible, and on the issues and causes that matter to people who want to volunteer or give time in other ways.

We know the way people want to do this is changing. Our role is to create space for people to help solve issues that matter to them, to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to be included, and to create amazing experiences for volunteers. In Australia:

A key message I took away from Spain was a strong desire to work together on new ways to mobilise. We can do this by growing and fostering networks as well as exploring new technologies. The developing International Federation Strategy 2030 captures this as one of seven areas for transformation:

“…the Red Cross and Red Crescent will re-imagine volunteering and civic action in the 21st century, to open up and ensure a much larger and more effective network of humanitarians working for global good. Our commitment to this re-imagination means that we will have an open mind of what volunteering means and develop different approaches to voluntary service.”

Cooks, Books and a bit of Harry Potter

I’m always in awe at the creative ways that you come up with to raise funds for Red Cross work. On Monday, the DOS room at our Melbourne office was filled with delicious cakes, bickies, preserves and books that you donated for the Cooks and Books fair organised by the Strategy, People and Performance directorate. The event raised around $1,500 in a day. Well done to everyone who participated, donated and bought the goods!   

Recently Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame was filming a new thriller where he plays a white anti-apartheid activist who escaped from one of South Africa's toughest jails. Much of the filming occurred in the same street where our Adelaide office is situated. Quick thinking by our Red Cross staff in SA resulted in Daniel signing a Harry Potter Lego set and as part of SA’s tax campaign, they will raffle this off.

Raffle tickets are $5 each and can be paid for in cash and in some offices via EFTPOS. Please see your Hub teams to purchase tickets. The raffle will be drawn on Friday 28 June by an online name-picking generator.

Share these incredible stories

We are almost at the tail end of June. If you’re still thinking about how you can contribute to our largest fundraiser of the year, there’s still time to share stories about the incredible people we work with. Like Rose, who defies expectations every day. Or Brian, who keeps getting up after every setback. Or Wendy, a mum who’s great in a crisis.

Share their stories and a link of the campaign with your networks. When you share these stories with family, friends, colleagues and others, encourage them to support you and Red Cross to help bring more good to the world and visit our website

Welcome to Sue Cunningham

A big warm welcome to Sue Cunningham who started at Red Cross last week as Director in Victoria. Sue brings close to 20 years of leadership experience across health, emergency services, aged care and community sectors. 

I asked Sue what she looks forward most at Red Cross:

“I'm really looking forward to becoming part of a great organisation and supporting the team to make the biggest possible impact in Victoria for those who need our help the most.”

If you’re around the Melbourne office, come and say hi or drop her an email if you have any questions.

Red Cross in the media

Did you catch the powerful special feature stories over the weekend about the work of Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Syria? This two-page feature on the Miracle quadruplets born in war-torn Syria, this story on the Incredible way city of Homs is rebuilding and Survival stories as Red Cross, Syrian Arab Red Crescent help caught my eye. Amazing work by our media team for putting the spotlight on these stories.

That's all for this week.