Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

From a square to a quilt + My reconciliation journey

28 May 2019

Hi everyone,

I’m starting this blog with wonderful stories of what our colleagues across the country are doing for Reconciliation Week.  

The team in SA launched the Member Branch Reconciliation Quilt Project on 6 May. All branches were invited to design a 10-inch quilt square on what reconciliation means to them. The idea behind this is to encourage members to reflect on how they are taking steps towards reconciliation within their own communities. It’s a great opportunity to meet with, research, and understand local indigenous communities and reflect this in their quilt squares. Once completed, the squares will form a queen-sized quilt. This week is about starting to put it all together.

Reconciliation Wall
Plans were launched on Monday to create a reconciliation wall in the Melbourne office. The artwork for the wall is being reviewed by Aboriginal artists and will feature a visual journey of where we are at in our commitments to reconciliation. The wall will be a place for people to reflect on their own contribution and to see a list of upcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander related events.

Cultural Ladder

On Monday, we launched the Cultural Ladder e-learning course on the Learning Gateway. There are several great courses and steps that you can take towards cultural awareness. I encourage you to sign up and have a look at the resources available to help make Red Cross a culturally rich and safe place.

There are also many other ways Red Cross people are marking Reconciliation Week. 

(Left) Sorry Day in Blacktown: the Wolkara Elders and Red Cross staff shared their lived experiences of the impact of the Stolen Generations' policies on families and communities. (Right) WA team members at Shark's Mouth Rock sacred site​.

In Sydney the Wolkara Elders group and Red Cross staff came together to mark Sorry Day and a talk is planned for Friday by Eric Brown, a young Aboriginal man from Gundungurra country. He works in juvenile justice and will speak about his work and the issue of over representation of Aboriginal people in the justice system.

The folks in WA are on a cultural tour to the Rabbit Proof Fence. They’re joined by eight Elders from different WA communities and are stopping along the way to learn more about the peoples and cultures of the area and the impacts of the Stolen Generations.

In Tasmania teams are coming together to share their “I will…” plans, including a display of them at the front of the Hobart Office. 

There are more events planned for Darwin, Melbourne and Brisbane.  

My reconciliation journey

Darebin Spiritual Healing Trail
I started my Reconciliation Week on Sunday by doing the Darebin Spiritual Healing trail

“As you enter Darebin Parklands, you are embarking on a spiritual journey, into the realm of nature and possibilities, as you walk toward the gum trees, let the leaves welcome and refresh you, allow them to relieve any stress, tension and division from your mind, to encourage you to focus on the reason for your visit.  

“Bunjil created Darebin Creek and surrounding bushland for people to find joy and be at peace within themselves and others. The Wurundjeri clan of the Woiwurrung people have cared for this land, and enjoyed it, through many millennia. The Spiritual Healing Trail is a gift from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as a gesture of reconciliation.”  

I’ve also decided how I want to approach my ‘I will…’ commitment to learn some Indigenous language. Given my love of singing, I’m combining the two and learning to sing Wiyathul by Dr G Yunupingu. It might take me a while to get it right but my singing teacher is up for it!

Centre for Humanitarian Leadership
We were thrilled to welcome Dr Hugo Slim, Head of Policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to our shores last week. He gave the keynote address at the 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference in Melbourne. He called it ‘Leading Big and Small: Balancing Scale and Detail in Humanitarian Leadership’. 

We also led two sessions at the conference. Louise McCosker (International Humanitarian Diplomacy Lead) led a session on the  ‘Lessons Learned from a Locally-Led Emergency Response’ research publication. This research followed the earthquakes in Lombok and Sulawesi in late 2018. Thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of thousands were and still are affected. The research looks into what of the response worked well and what we can learn from it.

The second session was led by Annie Ingram, Project Coordinator, Emergency Services, NT. She talked about our work in the Northern Territory harnessing Indigenous knowledge to strengthen emergency responses.  She talked through three case studies – Tiwi Islands, Nauiyu (Daly River) and Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island).   

Can I tell you a story?

June is an important month for us each year.  It is when we have our annual fundraising campaign – Bring More Good. I am going to encourage my peers, colleagues and friends on my social networks to contribute to our campaign by writing some stories of the amazing work we do and asking them to donate to it. Obviously I'm also retweeting and posting on LinkedIn what’s being published on our @RedCrossAU channel.  

I’ve heard some great stories of what various Red Cross people are doing to raise funds The Legal and Policy team raised $436 this week through their “certified cakes” initiative. Staff who needed documents certified were encourage to give a gold coin donation and, at the same time, enjoy a slice of cake or two. The Strategy, People and Performance team is holding a cooks and books sale in June raising funds through the sale of baked goods and second hand books. There will also be a pop-up Red Cross shop in the Melbourne office on that day. 

My favourite so far is Kat Watt (Business Engagement Lead, IT), who is offering her hair to raise funds for Red Cross. For those who know Kat, you’ll agree that her bright, split-dyed hair is a major part of her persona. Kat’s offering to go for a pixie haircut if she manages to raise $5,000, half her hair to the razor for $10,000 and go bald for $20,000! That’s a brave call! 

For those of you yet to decide what your contribution will be to our largest fundraiser of the year, here is a suggestion. Tell stories about the incredible people we work with. Like Rose, who defies expectations every day. Or Brian, who keeps getting up after every setback. Or Wendy, a mum who’s great in a crisis.

Here are their stories and tips on how to share them on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. When you share these stories with family, friends, colleagues and others, encourage them to support you and Red Cross to help bring more good to the world and visit our website. There, they will find information about our humanitarian work and be able to make a donation. Together we can bring more good to world.

Feel free to post more than one story over the coming days. The more the better!

Talk to you soon.