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Lives on hold, Srebrenica anniversary + Trauma Teddy

24 July 2019

Chilling out on the NSW South Coast

Hi everyone, 

I got back from my week’s holiday on Monday. It’s hard to find a better place to chill out than the NSW South Coast and that’s what I did. I had a great time relaxing, reading, walking, eating. It is such a beautiful part of the world. 

Monday morning was all about our ‘apps’! Kerry McGrath (Director, Community Programs), Amber Mackinnon (Strategy and Relationships Manager) and I went straight into a session on how to build on the early success of My Team which now has 8,500 people using it. Those using it are finding it really helpful. We’ve already made a couple of tweaks to the app reflecting feedback and suggested improvements.

I also had an update on the progress of our Get Prepared app. So far close to 15,500 have downloaded it with user sample surveys showing that after downloading it 61% have found it appealing or very appealing and 56% have changed their view on what it takes to be prepared for a natural disaster. We’ve just launched the new version which allows people to do the bits of the app which make most sense to them (vs having to complete the whole thing), allows people to enter those contacts which are important to them (vs connect the app to their contacts) and allows them to select a location on a map rather than having to put their house address in. 

Lives on Hold

The Australian Human Rights Commission released its report Lives on Hold: Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Legacy Caseload this week. The report is on the 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers who arrived by boat and were subject to new Australian Government policies. 

Red Cross provides support to many of these people with the significant practical issues and challenges they continue to face in the community. In the past year we have worked on a human-centered design project to determine how we can improve the lives of people seeking asylum in Australia. You can read the research report for more details. (password: projectcode). 

As a result of this project, we have tested and piloted a ‘Connect, Match, Support’ employment model in Brisbane and we are looking to test it in other locations across Australia in coming months. We are already seeing the benefits to both businesses and employees in Brisbane. We have created connections with employers resulting in full-time job placements with increasing interest in the program. 

With more people becoming ineligible for Federal government financial assistance, we remain concerned about the high risk of destitution for vulnerable people. We are responding by creating supports that are cohesive, streamlined and evidence-based through a co-design process - ‘Project Safety Net’. We’ve held face-to-face and online ideation sessions and a first prototype was presented on 8 July. 

Immigration Detention

It was another tough week last week for our Immigration Detention Monitoring Program (IDMP) staff and volunteers, with another tragic death in immigration detention. The death of a young Afghan man in the Maribyrnong Immigration Transit Accommodation is the fourth death in detention in approximately nine months. Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers continue to visit detention facilities regularly, make recommendations, and negotiate ways to improve conditions in detention so people in detention have the protections and safety they deserve.

Srebrenica Anniversary

Potocari cemetery, Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dzidza in front of the memorial erected in memory of the up to 8,000 people killed at Srebrenica. The dead include her husband, her two sons and her two brothers. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / N. Danziger / v-p-ba-e-00076

Earlier this month, on 11 July marked the 24th year anniversary of Srebrenica. More than 33,000 tracing requests for missing persons were submitted to the ICRC as a result of the conflicts in the Balkans in the early 1990’s. Many families around the world continue to live in uncertainty and anguish, hoping to receive news on their missing relatives, including 71 here in Australia. This is an important reminder for us not to forget the past. Our Restoring Family Links team works every day to support families and recognise that they have a right to know what happened to their loved ones.

Helping children, one trauma teddy at a time

Red Cross volunteer Vicki McKinnon has just knitted her 2,000th Trauma Teddy. In the past 10 years, Vicki has been helping children get through some of the scariest times in their young lives – through the comfort of a Trauma Teddy. In June, Vicki knitted her 2,000th Trauma Teddy. With a decade of practice, she can now create a full teddy in a day. 

What an amazing achievement! A huge thanks to Vicki for her contributions all these years. It’s acts like Vicki’s and many of our volunteers’ that mean we’re able to comfort children during the times they need it most. For example, at the children’s hospital while awaiting medical treatments, through personal tragedy, disaster, or just as a little comfort in a big world.

Congratulations to Neville Jetta

Sue Cunningham (Director, VIC) handing Neville Jetta the Certificate of Appreciation.

Did you catch Neville Jetta on Channel 7 News last Friday? Neville, who is a Red Cross Ambassador and AFL footballer, recently shared his plans to use the Adam Goodes documentary – The Final Quarter to teach the younger generation about racial vilification. Sue Cunningham (Director, VIC) presented Neville with a Certificate of Appreciation for his support towards Youth as Agents of Behaviour Change program, helping young people make positive changes in their lives.

That’s all for this week.