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Just what is Project Gecko? Read on to find out ...

19 March 2018

Hi everyone,

Project Gecko - keeping you in the loop 

Project Gecko is well underway. It’s all about how we have 500,000 people equipped and prepared for a disaster; support 100,000 people experiencing deep social exclusion; and have 250,000 people taking voluntary humanitarian action in the next few months.

Gecko is made up of people from across Red Cross who are bringing their skills, knowledge and goodwill together to deliver these outcomes. The team are using an agile approach, meeting every week via Skype to share progress and work through challenges. They are supported by people from corporate partnerships, design and evidence, digital, communications, legal, procurement and others to move quickly and at scale.

Here’s what’s coming up in the next three months as a result of this great effort:

Get Prepared app

We’ve made improvements to make it even more user friendly, and it’s now available on IOS and Android. We’ve partnered with Optus, Westpac, Carers Networks and others to reach more than 300,000 of their customers, clients and staff, giving them the tools they need to be ready for disasters. This Saturday, we’ll be promoting our disaster preparation messages during Earth Hour, so keep an eye on our social media channels for fun and simple things you can do to get yourself ready and help others get ready too.

Beat Loneliness

This will take us out of our comfort zone in April by using e-sports to target millennials to raise awareness and spark action to tackle loneliness. We’ll be re-naming a professional e-sports team in Rocket League® ‘Loneliness’ and challenging other teams to ‘Beat Loneliness’, as well as creating a microsite for a grassroots campaign where local sports teams (such as AFL 9s, netball) can re-name themselves Loneliness. We’re securing partnerships with the AFL and Basketball Australia to sponsor the campaign by funding t-shirts for participants and promoting Beat Loneliness. We expect 2.5 million people will engage with our social media campaign, with 80,000 signalling action or taking action to Beat Loneliness.

MyTeam web app (which will work in both IOS and Android)

This is a tool that will put people with mental health concerns in the driver’s seat when it launches in May. It’ll build new networks of support and wellbeing through partnerships with Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, Headspace and more. These partnerships will mean the MyTeam solution will be seen by more than 220,000 people with mental health concerns before the end of June and we hope at least 50,000 of them will access and use it. We’re also exploring how MyTeam can support migrants and people in the justice system.

Red Cross Journey

We're calling it the fitness challenge that's tough on your feet, and great for humanity. From 8 May (World Red Cross Day) we'll be asking people to walk 10,000 steps a day, raising money while they follow the story of either a family seeking safety or one of our emergency response volunteers.

Do one thing

We’ll be encouraging people to do easy, simple humanitarian actions, starting them on a journey with us that meets their needs and gets them ready to become disaster ready, acting to beat loneliness, creating their team or becoming a member of someone else’s team. We are testing our easy actions through Red Cross Calling and our social media channels, expecting to reach 150,000 people. 

Thanks to all involved in this great cross-organisation collaboration. Fingers crossed for success over the next few months.

A view above Tathra, NSW, taken by a firefighter yesterday evening. Credit: @staceyleecullen, Instagram

Bushfires, flooding and a cyclone

As I write this week’s blog I am once again inspired by our Emergency Services staff and volunteers, in awe of the willingness of people to drop everything and help others and reassured that preparedness is so often the key to better outcomes.

At lunchtime yesterday, unseasonably hot, dry and windy conditions resulted in a bushfire at Reedy Swamp near Bega in southern New South Wales. The fire moved towards the township of Tathra, which had to be evacuated, and caused damage and destruction to dozens of properties. More than 550 people stayed in an evacuation centre at Bega Showgrounds.

Similar weather conditions also led to bushfires in South-West Victoria at the weekend, affecting up to 40 towns. There has been significant damage to properties and livestock and farming assets have been destroyed.

Red Cross launched the Register.Find.Reunite service for people affected by the fires in both Bega and Victoria’s South-West.

Trained Red Cross teams provided psychological first aid in three relief centres in South-West Victoria over the weekend. Today, volunteers will be supporting people in Bega in NSW and Cobden and Camperdown in Victoria.

On Saturday, Tropical Cyclone Marcus made a direct hit on Darwin with wind gusts of 126km/hr reported at the airport. The Category 2 tropical cyclone caused damage to the Darwin water supply, numerous properties from both wind and uprooted trees and left more than a third of the city’s properties without power.

Last week in the North Queensland floods – where floodwaters inundated an area greater than the size of NSW – our volunteers provided support in the recovery hub at Ingham, did phone outreach from Brisbane, went door to door in Innisfail and will continue to do so in the Hinchinbrook shire for the coming week at least.

So far it seems no lives have been lost in these disasters, which is a testament to the brilliant work of our emergency services and also the preparedness of people experiencing them, with a huge slice of luck thrown in too. On the ground in North Queensland our teams have met with people for whom big floods are an expected part of life. These disaster veterans know what to do, who to call on and where to go. Time after time we see that preparedness making a vital difference.

The friendly smiles and listening ears of our trained volunteers will also be making a big difference to people recovering from these disasters. You are awesome.

Seven years too long

It’s not an anniversary to celebrate. This month marks seven long years of conflict that the people of Syria have endured. With it brings yet another siege, this time in Eastern Ghouta where 400,000 are trapped, and it is near impossible for aid to get through. Our colleagues at the ICRC and Syrian Arab Crescent are working tirelessly to deliver much needed medical and food supplies. My opinion piece on this issue was recently published in the Herald Sun.

#Minutetoleave challenge

A couple of weeks ago I told you about our #minutetoleave video challenge. It’s part of our work to help all Australians – including you guys – to get emergency prepared. With all that is going on arond Australia right now, this is a timely exercise.

We want you, when you get home, to set a stopwatch to a minute and video yourself collecting everything you would need if you had to flee suddenly. Then post the video online, on Youtube, Facebook or Instagram – tagging #minutetoleave. In a real emergency you would be lucky to have a minute to flee. Just ask the residents of Bega.

Matt Fisher from our media and communications team took the challenge last week. See how he did. Are you up for the challenge?
Best wishes,