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Anzac Day, My Team app + Sri Lanka response

30 April 2019

Board Member Anne Macarthur at Anzac Day commemorations in Bairnsdale, Victoria

Anzac Day Week

Hi everyone,

The Anzac Day week is such an important week in our calendar. 

For me it was bookended by two symbolic tweets from Helen Durham, Director for International Law and Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross; someone we admire tremendously. 

Helen tweeted about the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Diplomatic Conference which developed the Geneva Conventions: “Their determination to uphold human dignity even in the midst of conflict is as important now as it was then.” 

The ICRC website tells us that “the Geneva Conventions are the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war.”  Or as Nelson Mandela said, “The Geneva Conventions, …. remind us most forcefully of our common obligation to care for each other even, and particularly, in conditions that foster behaviour to the contrary.”

The Geneva Conventions are particularly poignant as we reflect on Anzac Day.  In our own tweets, we honoured and thanked Red Cross nurses and volunteers who provided crucial physical and mental support throughout history.

We also highlighted and paid respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers, nurses and volunteers whose wartime contributions often went unrecognised.

During the week we also tweeted our IHL analysis of Season 8 Episode 2 of Game of Thrones. It was a difficult week for the volunteers: “How do you undertake a ‘laws of war’ analysis of an episode of GoT where there was more drinking and singing than fighting?” Despite the challenge, they found examples enough, citing the use of child soldiers and damage to sites of cultural significance.

Red Cross people were out in numbers for Anzac Day itself – participating in services and parades (from Perth to Bairnsdale), offering tea, coffee, Anzac Biscuits and friendship.

One photo I loved is the one below taken by Di Buckles, one of our Board members, Chair of our WA Divisional Advisory Board and so much more.  The photo reminded me of the plaque by Ataturk at Gallipoli.

The plaque reads:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. 
Therefore rest in peace. 
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets
to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. 
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, 
wipe away your tears. 
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. 
After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

My week also finished with a tweet from Helen Durham announcing a challenge to ‘voices in #IHL’ to participate in the San Remo New Voices in IHL essay competition – Cyber warfare and artificial intelligence in warfare.  The winner will present at the San Remo Roundtable.  I encourage all our amazing Red Cross volunteers, members and staff with expertise in this area to enter.  I know you have tremendous and world-leading knowledge in this and look forward to seeing your contributions.

My Team Launch 

Yesterday I had the privilege of standing beside Marcus DeGiglio and Cheryl Bruce to launch the My Team app.  On this journey we listened to and worked with around 250 people who live with mental health concerns. Marcus and Cheryl shared their very personal stories of mental health challenges and gave us an insight into why these 250 people were at the centre of designing this new tool – they are the experts in what will help them most. Their ongoing input, along with many months of careful and thoughtful development by our amazing team in Community Programs, Engagement & Support and IT, and the involvement of partners like Mental Health Australia, Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Black Dog Institute, has taken My Team from an idea to a fully-developed app.

Learn more in this short video, download the app for IOS or Android and encourage others to also.  We know this is only the beginning.

Vale Carl Currey

The Australian Red Cross community recently lost Carl Currey, a passionate member who played a key part in governance in the ACT. Carl will be sadly missed and we have offered our sincerest condolences to his family.

Carl joined the ACT Divisional Advisory Board in August 2018. In his relatively short time as a member Carl earned the deep respect and admiration of his fellow advisory board members and the Red Cross team. Carl was enthusiastic about the work Red Cross is doing to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in supporting young people. He was also dedicated to leading initiatives such as our planned fundraising partnership with Canberra Opera. Carl will be remembered for his insightful comments and deep commitment to our fundamental principles. He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him.

Sri Lanka terror attacks

Finally I want to acknowledge the terrible events in Sri Lanka over the Easter period. We have been in contact with Sri Lanka Red Cross and expressed our support and condolences. Sri Lanka Red Cross provided life-saving first aid to survivors at explosion sites and transported patients to hospitals, as well as reaching out to their blood donor network to ensure enough supply. In Australia we shared resources on looking after yourself with the Sri Lankan community here.

The information sheets have been shared widely in social media, via email and shared with ethnic radio stations. We have received positive feedback on the quality of the material and the ease of use from Sri Lankan community leaders, particularly from the Federation of Indian Communities and senior members of the Sri Lankan and Tamil communities in Qld.

I also know that some of our staff were impacted directly by these events and appreciate those who gave them support while many of us were away.

Thanks to Katrina for taking over my blog last week.  I’m always happy to ‘hand it over’ so if you want to do a blog takeover, just ask me.