The ongoing impact of COVID
"Critical hardship on millions of Australians". This was a quote from Greg Combet last night on the ABC's 7.30 Report during a section on the impact of COVID on Australians.
We are very conscious of the hardship which has been and continues to be created by the social and economic impacts of COVID. Yesterday, I also read the most recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) titled "A Crisis Like No Other, An Uncertain Recovery". While they forecasted a 'less worse' impact for Australia (given how well Australians have locked down) it is still expected to be a long recession. The IMF expect a significant rise in social inequality as lower skilled workers bear the brunt of job losses. "The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperilling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s."
In an article in The Age about the report, it said "Furthermore, the 1.3 billion school children (70% of the global total) who have been affected by interrupted schooling will suffer a significant loss in learning with disproportionately negative impacts on the earnings prospects for children in low-income countries."
It is pretty dire.
We see the impacts here in Australia and know there is more to come. We saw thousands of job losses just yesterday.
That is why our response to this disaster is ramping up over the coming months.
For example we will be supporting more and more people on temporary visas (up to 60,000) including refugees, people seeking asylum, and other groups falling through the gaps, our calls to those feeling isolation are ramping up (in one State alone, getting to around 40,000 a week), we will be doing more to prevent trafficking and exploitation during these times, we are working to build out our support in the justice system as people face longer periods of not seeing loved ones. We are ramping up our support for bushfire impacted communities now that we can get out into the communities physically to understand their needs better and respond to them. The list goes on.
For us the recovery from the COVID disaster, or maybe we are still in the response stage, is like no other. A nationwide (indeed worldwide) disaster with far-reaching consequences is not something we have had to deal with before. Having said that I am so proud of everything everyone has done so far - reaching out to, supporting and connecting with hundreds of thousands of Australians who needed support. But we know we are just at the beginning and we see the need for support increasing every week.
Returning to workplaces and working flexibly
In all places except Victoria, we will soon start our return to Red Cross workplaces. While some people will be returning to the offices on 1 July, this pandemic is not over and we all need to remain vigilant. We have seen a rise in new COVID-19 cases in Victoria and restrictions have not been eased there. Therefore, we will be returning later for those in Victoria.
As we think about being back at our workplaces I’d also like us to prepare ourselves for what will most likely be a series of closings and openings in the coming months as we learn to live with COVID as a nation. For example, we were hoping to have 100 shops open by now, but it is only 85 because we have had to pull back due to increased cases in Victoria. Some of the places we had booked for our first aid courses have now told us they have to stay shut so we’ve had to postpone some courses. Equally, we have already had some of those who had returned to work go and get tested and therefore be isolated until they hear the results.
So, let’s get our collective heads around ‘living with COVID’ and gear ourselves up for being flexible and adaptable as the country shifts around us in response to COVID.
I also ask all Red Cross people to be hyper-vigilant. COVID is out there so please continue to practise good hygiene and hand washing, and appropriate physical distancing. This will be especially important in locations where people will be returning to the workplace even if cases remain low in those areas.
Look out for a separate communication that will go out to our people in Victoria outlining updated time frames and our approach to returning to workplaces and sites there.
Things will need to be different as we return to workplaces and sites. Please use this time to talk through with your managers and team about what this looks like for you. You can also find some ideas to help with safe decision making here. Having said that it will be sooooooo good to be physically together again!
New Chief Financial & Operations Officer appointment
Great news. Lloyd Doddridge will be joining us from on Friday 17 July. He’ll be starting his role from Adelaide while he and his family work out how to move to Melbourne during COVID.
In his professional life, Lloyd has worked in many complex organisations experiencing change in their environments and helping make them successful at what they do. Starting out at the ATO in Adelaide, he performed various senior taxpayer facing roles during a period of great change in our tax system. He then moved on to spend several years in Chartered Accounting practice joining SA Brewing Holdings corporate finance team gaining exposure to a variety of manufacturing industries before being appointed as Finance Director in Europe for Penfolds Wine Group.
Returning from Europe to Melbourne he transitioned ultimately to Nexteer Automotive where an initial role as CFO of Australia later became that of CEO of Asia Pacific. Living and working largely out of Shanghai, China Lloyd oversaw the growth of the business from $20m million turnover to $1bn across a region that included China, India and greater Asia. He then spent time in the Media and Communications sector with Dentsu Aegis.
A Chartered Accountant and member of the Institute of Company directors, he holds a B.A. in Accounting from Uni SA, an MBA in International Management from RMIT and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Strategy from Oxford University.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Simon Bolles for jumping on-board at short notice, holding the fort since February, steering the directorate through the height of one of the most challenging periods many of us will ever experience. Despite this, anyone who knows Simon has been on the receiving end of his wicked sense of humour. We will be organising a suitably embarrassing farewell for Simon before he leaves us.
Spread the power of you
As we’re coming close to the end of the financial year, I wanted to remind you of our fundraising campaign that will also draw to a close next week. It is the most important fundraising event of the year for us. We know it is a tough time to ask Australians to donate but we are so pleased that more Australians are supporting us in this campaign than have in the past several years. It shows their generosity despite difficult times and their trust in Red Cross.
The funds are used to ‘be there’ for Australians going through tough times.
- In Aussie homes where loneliness is dispelled by a phone call
- In evacuation centres where people seek shelter from a fire
- In communities when a virus threatens lives
- Across oceans to reunite families separated by war
We know it's hard to share something that is a donation ask but during life's difficult moments, it's the smallest things that bring the biggest difference. Help us spread the word. We have just one week to go.
This life-changing support continues, unabated, through the COVID-19 pandemic. You have to the power to keep it going. Be it through the power of connection, a cuppa, an education or a photograph, your generosity proves we are not powerless in the face of big challenges.
Climate:RED Innovation competition
Climate change affects everyone, everywhere. The IFRC Solferino Academy is holding a virtual climate change conference that will run for 30 consecutive hours, so no one will miss out.
As part of this, they are also launching a Climate:RED Innovation competition, where staff, volunteers and youth from National Societies around the world will be able to submit innovative ideas for climate initiatives.
IFRC have also been receiving innovative ideas and ventures addressing climate change related issues from young people across the movement - submissions close 26 July. A jury will select some of the most innovative ideas to be pitched live during the Summit on 9-10 September.
UTas 2020 Red Cross Oration
Once again, we are collaborating with the University of Tasmania for the UTas 2020 Red Cross oration to advance public understanding and increase conversations on issues impacting humanity.
This year’s theme is Climate Crisis. You can join keynote speaker Amanda McKenzie (CEO, Climate Council) for the 2020 Red Cross Oration organised by University of Tasmania on 2 July at 3pm. Book online.
Amanda is the CEO and co-founder of the Climate Council, an independent climate change education and advocacy body. The online webinar will also feature Michael Annear (Interim Director, International Programs and Movement Relations) who will be participating in the Q&A session.
Talk to you next week.