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A year ago ...

23 January 2018

Hi everyone,

This week we mark a sombre first anniversary.

Bourke Street Memorial

On 20 January, 2017, six people died and 36 were injured after a driver allegedly ploughed through pedestrians in the Bourke Street Mall.

It was a difficult and emotional time for many people. In all, 147 Red Cross volunteers and 18 Red Cross staff helped in the 10 days following the incident. Thank you to those involved for your compassion and professionalism. And thanks also to the Red Cross volunteers for being available on Saturday to offer support to those affected by the anniversary.

A State memorial service will be held today at the Royal Exhibition Building at Carlton Gardens for the victims and families of the tragedy. Red Cross will be part of the commemoration.

Staying cool

Watching the weather around the country, I’m really conscious that so many of you are working in hot conditions. Given how dangerous heat can be, I thought I’d remind us all how to manage the conditions.

  • Do what you can to stop your house warming up – close windows early in the day to stop the hot air getting inside and keep out the sun.
  • Avoid the sun and don't venture outdoors between 11am and 3pm.
  • Have cool baths or showers and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drinks high in sugar.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.

It’s also good to check on others to make sure they’re OK.

Proving one’s existence

I found this article really interesting last week.

According to business management consultancy Accenture, about one-sixth of the world’s population cannot participate in cultural, political, economic and social life because they lack documented proof of their existence. Establishing identity is critical to accessing a wide range of activities, including education, healthcare, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing and family and childcare benefits.

Refugees and asylum seekers rarely have documented identification which then denies them access to these services and limits their participation in society. But blockchain technology developed by Microsoft and Accenture will give those fleeing persecution and war their identities to keep.

Australia Day

We have a lot to love about being an Australian in 2018 – we live together in a land which is ancient and unique, our First Nations peoples are part of the world’s oldest culture, we are a wonderful mix of many different nationalities and we celebrate internationally acclaimed achievements in fields as diverse as health, science and agriculture. 

While celebrating our national identity and achievements from all walks of life, the debate around the date of Australia Day also highlights the importance of reflecting what this date means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Among our celebration of being an Australian, this Friday is also an opportunity to build our understanding of our nation’s history – including truths that are hard to hear – and how that history continues to impact First Nations peoples. It’s an opportunity for conversations that can support healing and build better relationships. 

I am going to reflect by walking the Spiritual Healing Trail which goes along Darebin Creek in Melbourne. It was designed by the Darebin Aboriginal Working Party with support of the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Darebin Creek Management Committee and the park rangers. 

I also want to read the book ‘Dark Emu’ over the weekend. My mum tells me it is a powerful analysis about the sophisticated agricultural practices that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using prior to 1788.

Let’s reflect on our history, seek understanding and show respect. We’re committed to reconciliation.

Look after yourselves and others.