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Engaging local humanitarian action + Floral tribute at Bourke St

21 November 2018

Hi everyone,

Engaging Local Humanitarian Action in a Fast-Changing World

We had a productive and intense week in Manila last week for the 10th IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Conference. The theme for the conference was 'Engaging Local Humanitarian Action in a Fast-Changing World'.

The week built on focussed effort over many months on migration, shifting to locally-led, women leadership, youth engagement, shifting volunteering, ethics and integrity, disaster risk reduction, protection, anticipatory action, gender and inclusion and contributions to IFRC’s Strategy 2030 process. Across all of this is our focus on using technology to power transformation. We could see these efforts in so many places – from construct of the agenda through to background papers provided to the conference to the roles we were invited to play. We also met with Francesco Rocca (IFRC President), Elhadj As Sy (IFRC Secretary-General), key people from IFRC and delegates from other countries.

We worked as a cohesive team, supported by great briefing by Jane Munro (National Coordinator - Movement Engagement, Migration, Emergencies and Movement Relations). We participated in all sessions while using Whatsapp to share throughout, to seek advice from each other and to sharpen our contributions. Through the week, Georgia Hagias (SA Divisional Advisory Board member) shared what we were doing with our youth network and I shared with the Leadership Team.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the conference.


“We, the young people, need to be at the centre in addressing the issues of today while preparing the issues of tomorrow with tangible actions through the
Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement.” 

- An extract from the youth statement

To prepare for their involvement in the conference, Georgia and colleagues had an ‘unconference’ and a Humanithon. From this, they pitched six ideas which the conference participants then had an imaginary $100 to ‘invest’ using, an online conference tool where everyone can vote, ask questions or make contributions which are then seen up on the screen.

The two ideas that had the most investment were V-run and The Changemakers. V-run is a proposed virtual global marathon where individuals gain points for humanitarian action linked to the concept of a race. Georgia was in the team that developed and presented The Changemakers, a proposed online platform that provides a climate champion checklist to encourage individual action to mitigate the risk of climate change and disasters.

The world for future generations

“Shared humanity is what binds us – we don’t own the Red Cross, we don’t own this planet, we merely have to look after if for the next generation.”  
- Elhadj As Sy, Secretary-General, IFRC

As' words resonate so much with the theme of the conference, prompting us to look into ways to prevent the challenges of the future and ask ourselves: what do we do today so that we have the world we want tomorrow?

Here are a few points that As Sy brought up in his speech.

  • Sustainability, relevance and identity – how do we lead a better world for future generations taking nothing for granted, listening to the next generation, new forms of volunteering, being open and inclusive, supporting the most vulnerable no matter what and shifting to locally-led approaches. It’s about making everybody count, leaving no one behind.
  • Climate change, disaster and displacement – three existential challenges in this region and globally. We must be on the side of the good and that means addressing climate change – mitigation, adaptation, resilience building. Our legitimacy will not be derived by history, mandate, or money. The real test will be the legitimacy and relevance of the agenda we carry and responding to the needs of the people given these challenges.
  • Sexual harassment – we have a profound duty of care to those we serve and to those with whom we work. 
  • How connectivity can support our actions – how can we use new technologies (like blockchain), how do we engage our volunteers differently.

Click here for The Manila Declaration and my full post on the conference including sessions on Migration and Displacement, women leadership, locally-led, anticipatory action and IFRC’s Strategy 2030.

Season of belonging

We rolled out our festive mailer earlier this month and have asked our supporters to write a note of support to the kids at the Red Cross Night Cafe in Brisbane. The cafe is for young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are experiencing homelessness. 

Thanks to everyone for sharing these beautiful and meaningful notes. Here’s one from our supporter Robyn:

“Well done to all the Night [Cafe] team for all the work you do and all that you give. I am sure it is highly appreciated. To the kids: - Hold tight. Believe in yourself. This too will pass. Best wishes, Robyn M.”

These notes will be shared with the Night Cafe team and will certainly make a world of difference to them.

Beating the odds in the Bangladesh Camps

Media Adviser Antony Balmain was working closely with Tracy Zordan, a Red Cross paediatric nurse on an opinion diary article that was published on The Herald Sun. The article paints a picture of some of the challenges close to a million people face living in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Tracy has been working in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent field hospital in the camps on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. She shares her account of what it’s like to work as part of a huge team tending to the sick and injured. Have a read of her story here.

Floral tribute at Bourke Street

The floral tribute at Pellegrini’s - Melbourne’s much-loved coffee shop has not stopped pouring in since the tragic incident at Bourke Street. Last week, at the request of the Malaspina family we carefully removed the floral tribute. The flowers were offered to brighten up nursing homes and community facilities. The tribute reflect the resilience of the community and the deep caring and connecting nature of this small business. A big thank you to our volunteers who provided care and support during this difficult time.