The Identity Project
I’m taking over the blog this week as Judy’s away on leave. It’s been 12 months since we started work on a project on identity. Why? Because more than 1.1 billion people in the world are unable to prove their identity and therefore lack access to vital services including healthcare, social protection, education and finance.
A further 3.4 billion people have some form of ID but no digital trail. We decided Red Cross should be involved in finding a solution for this and putting the needs of people at the centre of the solution. Led by Amanda Robinson (Head of Social Innovation), our starting point has been to look at how we can make it easy for people to volunteer in Australia or be deployed as a humanitarian worker overseas. When people like you and me want to take on these types of roles we often have to complete the same up front checks which can take a lot of time and costs organisations a lot too.
To imagine what we have developed picture a mobile phone in front of you, on your screen is an ‘identity icon’. When you click it opens up revealing the various credentials you have, this could be things like your working with children check or that you hold a particular training certificate. These credentials are valuable to you for two reasons, you own and control the identity information you have stored, they are not in one central database with an organisation and secondly, only you can choose who to share it with. The reason you can reuse or share the credentials with others is a result of Red Cross and partners, a group called the trust alliance, agreeing to accept credentials issued by others in the alliance.
Imagine in future how this could help people with no legal identity as well as those who are experiencing vulnerability. Imagine how we might use such as system so spontaneous volunteers can act quickly in times of disaster and emergency.
Outlook for the Pacific region this summer
Speaking of ways to help people during emergencies, preparation for the cyclone season is well underway in the Pacific, with national societies working collectively with Movement partners (including Australian Red Cross) and with national emergency authorities and meteorological services in their respective countries.
In Tonga, Red Cross is collaborating with local church groups, NGOs and town officers to develop key messages that link scientific information with direct actions for families to do to prepare for disasters. Meanwhile, in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, national societies are adapting their emergency response plans from the previous season, drawing on lessons learned, and including branch level training on critical response activities. Remote branches in places like the Solomon Islands are particularly engaged in first aid training for their staff and volunteers, who are often critical first responders in disasters.
And in PNG, Australian Red Cross is supporting logistics improvements to ensure emergency supplies can be replenished, stored and managed more effectively and efficiently.
Preparing for disasters and emergencies
We are busy preparing for Disaster Preparedness Week, our annual campaign to help Australians prepare for disasters and emergencies of all kinds. This year’s campaign will run from 23-29 September, and will emphasise the message that while we can’t stop emergencies from happening, we can reduce how much they affect us. We’re using insights garnered through previous campaigns and our work in Project Equipped to inform several elements of the campaign, including who we are targeting, how we will reach them and the actions we are asking them to take. Keep your eye out for key messages. We’re aiming to get the message out as far and wide as we can through traditional and social media and other channels in the hope that we can get people taking preparedness actions in the lead up to summer. If you haven’t already, download our Rediplan or Get Prepared app and get yourself and your loved ones prepared.
As summer approaches, we are ramping up, preparing for potential bushfire and cyclone activity across much of the country. As part of these preparations we are working on system maintenance to help us manage our teams in the field, undertaking briefings with each state and territory and key areas across the organisation, rolling out a newly developed training pathway for volunteers and staff, and introducing a new phone system to state inquiry centres so we can use them for telephone outreach. No doubt summer will also bring periods of heatwave conditions in multiple places throughout Australia. We’re preparing to support the vulnerable in our communities at these times, through broad media and public messages and reminders of what to do to reduce the impacts when heatwaves are imminent, as well as reminders to our Telecross clients and regular calls to clients of our Telecross Redi program in SA.
Our drought recovery program
We’re at the first quarter mark of our two-year drought recovery program. The program, funded by the BHP Foundation, builds on the distribution of funds off the back of the Drought Appeal we ran last year, with $11.5 million now distributed to drought-affected families. We have spent the first quarter establishing a solid foundation for the program to ensure our activities are led by community needs and that we are engaging as effectively as we can with a broad range of stakeholders across the four states in which the program is being delivered.
In addition to program design, we’ve been delivering psychosocial support on the ground in Western NSW, with a total of 1,142 people reached through Farm First Aid and Pillowcase Project sessions. We’ll be delivering Communicating in Recoveryto agencies working in drought in Western NSW in September. We’re bringing new drought coordinators on board and look forward to being able to extend our reach through existing Red Cross networks in the coming quarter.
Upcoming initiatives from branches
Annual Car Show with RFS
There are also heaps of activities planned by our Branches. In October, the Jamberoo Branch will be having their third annual car show in partnership with RFS. Last year, they raised $10,000 for Red Cross. In Narooma, the Zone 8 Regional Conference is taking place on 2 September and the Springwood Branch is having the Leura Garden Festival on 5-7 October.
We Connect – Bairnsdale
There is also lots happening across Victoria. On 17 October, Red Cross will collaborate with over 10 local community organisations to host an interactive day of training and networking for local volunteers in rural health, preparedness and connecting community support services. This day aims to strengthen community resilience in East Gippsland to the ongoing impacts of drought and natural disaster. You can reach out to the Bairnsdale Branch to know more.
Geelong Seniors Festival
24 October | Red Cross Geelong Office, Level 1/47 Pakington St, Geelong West
The Geelong office is hosting a Geelong Seniors Festival social connections event at the Red Cross office. Meet our members, make some friends, knit a teddy and have a shop at our Pop Up Shop. Contact Narelle Smith for more info.
The Annual Portarlington Golf Day
7 Oct | Portarlington Golf Club
The Barwon Branch invites one and all to their Annual Portarlington Golf Day at the Portarlington Golf Club! This is the major fundraiser in the Bellarine region. You can contact Bev O'Brien to join.
There are events and activities taking place all the time across the country. I encourage you to reach out to your local Red Cross unit/branch or alternatively the Volunteer Hubs in your state or territory for more details on what’s coming up.
That's all for this week.