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Townsville flooding, Remembering 2009 Victorian bushfires and Career Trackers

5 February 2019

Hi everyone,

In the week that we remember the tragedy of the Victorian bushfires in 2009, we are also faced with unprecedented weather events in many parts of the country. 

The flood emergency and situation in Townsville escalated significantly over the weekend. I know a number of our Red Cross people and their families have been impacted by this disaster. People have been evacuated from their homes, flooded in and are without power. I want let you know that we are here to support you in any way we can. If there is more we can and should be doing, please tell us.

We currently have 34 Red Cross people working in the community, working around the clock to support people in the five evacuation centres. Local Red Cross people have been quick to respond formally on behalf of Red Cross, and have also been taking in family and friends in their personal capacity.

We are expecting hundreds more Red Cross people to come into community over the next couple of days. We are putting a call out across the country to assist, and our National Coordination Centre is relocating its operations to Queensland.

While the Townsville office and Homelessness Hub are currently closed, we are reaching out to clients to check on their wellbeing and to offer any support we can. Phone calls are also being made to all volunteers, members and staff in the region to check on their wellbeing.

We’ve also been providing psychological support in Port Douglas to people affected by the flooding, and we are supporting people affected by bushfires in Tasmania and Victoria.

Dozens of bushfires started in Tasmania last week, with 41 bushfires still burning across the state. Red Cross teams have been providing psychological first aid and registering people at evacuation centres in Huonville and other areas.

In Victoria where several fires burnt over the weekend, Red Cross teams supported people at relief centres in Daylesford, Moe and Sale.

Our Register. Find. Reunite service is taking registrations for each of these emergencies.

Remembering the 2009 Victorian bushfires

As we respond to these emergencies, we are also marking ten years since the 2009 Victorian bushfires. We remember the people who died in February 2009 and honour the resilience of survivors who have since rebuilt their homes and lives. We also respect community wishes to mark the day quietly and privately.

Red Cross will be present at commemorative events to stand with those affected and offer support as needed. I also realise that staff may have been affected by the fires or worked in the days, months and years following. I encourage you to reach out to your support networks if you need to and of course our EAP provider is available and has been briefed that additional support may be required at this time.

RedxYouth Network

The RedxYouth is our new youth network. It will be all about young people, connected and engaging with each other, taking action on issues that are important to them. From addressing loneliness and mental health issues in their communities, supporting refugees seeking safety, using technology to make aid go further and faster, or advocating for an end to nuclear weapons.  We launched it last week.

Right now we’re looking for four young change makers from diverse backgrounds, locations, and life experiences to lead this network.
It's a chance for people aged between 18-30 to have real impact, connect with other change makers, provide advice to the National Board and develop their leadership skills.

I encourage you to share the opportunity with your network.

Career Trackers Interns

Some other young people making a difference at Red Cross have been our Career Trackers Interns. Career Trackers is a not-for profit organisation that develops internship opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander University Students.

Our current interns, Stephany Forman (International Programs), Ella Mae Hampton (Community Programs NT) and Shanii Hall (Community Programs WA) recently attended the Career Trackers Gala. At the event Stephany was presented with her Gold Diary in recognition of her distinction average at university.

Laurencia Grant says of having Ella Mae work with the team in Central Australia: “Ella Mae Hampton supported the Alice Springs team over our hottest months! As a proud Yankuntjatjara, Njandi and Yawuru woman she provided support to the young people in the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre, supported young people experiencing difficulties to engage in local football and baseball, in addition to many other extra duties. She is being farewelled by the staff and detainees at the YDC and our team this week. The importance of having a young local Aboriginal woman as a volunteer and as a positive role model for the youth of this town was so valuable. We all learnt a lot from her and wish her all the best with her studies in criminology in Adelaide University.”

I encourage other teams to consider how a Career Trackers intern might be able to contribute to their work. For more information contact Janice Murphy.

Extreme weather is still predicted in areas around the country this week so please take care. And thanks to all those doing amazing work around the country responding to the emergencies.

Take care.