Our incredible Red Cross people are doing amazing work. You are working in relief centres, you are making outreach calls and visits, you are getting more than a million dollars out the door to people impacted each day. And unfortunately we also have Red Cross people working incredibly hard to protect our reputation as we face some negative commentary.
And to all our supporters, I cannot thank you enough. You are what keeps us going – powering the efforts on the ground and ‘behind the scenes’ to help those in need.
I am so proud of everything you are doing.
I have written to our staff and volunteers about the issues that have been raised in the media and online and our President Ross Pinney has written to members.
Below you'll see an info-graphic summary of how we're using the money to support people with their immediate and long term needs.
You can keep track of our plans and spending at www.redcross.org.au/bushfirefunds
And I encourage you to read about the work we are doing and the impact we are having on the ground redcross.org.au/stories/emergency-services
(click the infographic to expand)
Generosity shown around the world
Kind hearted Australians and people all over the world have responded to the bushfires with incredible generosity.
This includes support from 42 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world who have supported us in many ways. Here are a few examples.
The Solomon Islands Red Cross Society is organising a wheelbarrow drives and booth collection raise funds. There promoting the drives with the following message: “The people of Australia have been our true brothers and sisters through thick and thin as well as in some of the worst natural disasters that have hit us in recent times. It will be good to also come out and give a hand in helping them in their hour of need.”
Dubai supports Australia with Burj Khalifa display.
Emirates Red Crescent is assisting us with donation requests through the #mateshelpmates campaign which saw the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa displaying a message of support for Australians.
And the British Red Cross is helping us manage our social media channels during our “midnight shift” so our team can rest and takeover during the day.
A heartfelt thank you to our Red Cross Red Crescent family and our partners for all your messages and support that are lifting our spirit in so many ways.
Recovering better together
It’s been almost a year since a monsoon event caused major flooding in the Townsville area. Our North Queensland Monsoon Disaster Recovery Program which kicked off last year and is the perfect .
Queensland faces the tough challenge of recovery from three significant natural disasters in little more than a year, compounded by the drought that has gripped large parts of the state. Each of the events had enormous impact to primary producers, small business and tourism leaving people affected with significant challenges in terms of human and economic recovery.
The North Queensland Monsoon Disaster Recovery Program has focussed on different several key areas of support:
Community Connection & Expert Advice
We engaged Clinical Psychologist Dr Rob Gordon, to facilitate sessions for senior decision makers and frontline responders. Dr Gordon is a longtime supporter of Red Cross and specialises in supporting people, communities and organisations during and after disasters.
During these sessions, participants had the opportunity to talk about self-care, fatigue management and for the first time local heroes and state leaders, had a safe space to offload some of their own experiences in the six months after the event.
We also held Psychological First Aid Training for local volunteers, agency staff and community organisations to assist them in supporting people impacted by the Townsville floods.
Work with Indigenous Community
We’ve worked closely with the Indigenous community who was severely impacted by the floods. We engaged, supported and trained large numbers of local indigenous community members and Indigenous support service groups.
Facilitate and offer psychosocial support
Psychological first aid was offered at community events, in affected communities as well as via telephone and door-to-door. Resources and publications on support available to help people cope through their recovery were distributed. Preparedness education was also delivered in schools through programs like the Pillowcase Project for school children.
Thank you to everyone involved in supporting the people impacted by the Townsville floods, and we will continue to assist them to cope with their recovery and prepare for future disaster.
Risdon Prison Choir invited to sing at the Festival of Voices
Our Peer Support Program has been operating in the Risdon Prison in Tasmania for over 10 years. The program works with prisoners to become peer supporters to the other prisoners.
One of the peer supporters came up with the fantastic idea of starting up a women’s choir which has now up to 20 participants. I was so pleased to have had the chance to meet her during a visit in Tasmania. Rosie Grace (a local performer) has been training the choir and developing their songbook which reflects the diversity and stories of the women.
The Director of the Festival of Voices has invited the choir to perform at the next Festival in Hobart. Festival of Voices is Australia’s pre-eminent choral music festival. Singers from all over the world gather in Tasmania every winter to perform, teach, learn, listen and connect. Audiences are encouraged to participate, discover the joy of singing, connect with their community and find their voices. Sounds like a great event. Well done to the women’s choir!
Cyclone, volcanic eruption and extreme cold
As communities in Australia face bushfires our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners are responding to a cyclone, a volcanic eruption and extreme cold. Our thoughts and support are similarly with those impacted and our colleagues.
Tropical Cyclone Tino hit the South Pacific over the weekend causing significant damage across Tuvalu, Tonga and Fiji. In Tonga and Tuvalu they are still completing emergency assessments to understand what damage has been done and what recovery needs are. While Fiji was not as severely impacted, flooding and debris are causing public health concerns.
Tuvalu Red Cross and Tonga Red Cross have been conducting relief distributions, particularly to those evacuated as the cyclone passed through and are now working with local disaster management authorities to understand what further needs are. In Tonga the IFRC is also supporting this work too. Fiji Red Cross have been working closely with their disaster management office supporting evacuations and relief distribution in the lead-up to Tino's landfall and are now providing first aid and hygiene promotion.
In the Philippines there was a major eruption of the Taal volcano on the island of Luzon on 12 January. Earthquakes have also been recorded and another major eruption is still a threat. Philippines Red Cross is supporting more than 53,000 people in evacuation centres with thousands of post-disaster workers, vehicles, ambulances, and relief items sent to the area. Additional relief stocks are ready to be deployed and Philippines Red Cross staff and volunteers have been placed on alert should the volcano erupt again.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan emergencies have been declared following very heavy snowfall, extreme low temperatures, and avalanches. At least 129 people have been killed and major highways connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan are closed disrupting the flow of essential goods into Afghanistan. Pakistan Red Crescent Society has conducted relief activities throughout the affected regions. Convoys of vehicles are carrying food, non-food items, and medicines to impacted areas and clearing snow-covered roads and highways.
Important role of Red Cross as world tackles shared risks
Last week the World Economic Forum released the 2020 Global Risks Report on the most pressing risks our world is facing. For the first time all five of the top long term risks identified are environmental.
We only need look to the recent fires to understand how a changing climate will impact people, communities and livelihoods. In the short term the World Economic Forum says that increased domestic and international divisions and economic slowdown could distract from meeting long term challenges.
“The political landscape is polarized, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning. This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks,” said Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.
Our focus in the future must also look to these global trends, we must navigate them, and understand the humanitarian impacts from them and lead in supporting communities to meet these challenges.
That’s all for this week.