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Blog takeover | Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria | Humanitarian Settlement Program update | Call for Art submissions

6 August 2020

This week's news from... 

Hello everyone.  

I am stepping in for Judy while she takes a well-deserved break.  

Wherever you are based, we are sharing the challenges of increased restrictions in Victoria, and concerns when seeing the global trend on COVID-19.  

Please stay safe and be kind to each other and yourselves. Be sure to check out our tips for looking after yourself, helping others, and see how Red Cross is helping. We can be so proud of our people and the way we continue to step up to meet the needs of those impacted by this pandemic.  

This week we were shocked and saddened to hear about the explosion in Beirut and the resulting loss of life and injuries. Our colleagues in the Lebanese Red Cross are on the ground providing search and rescue, evacuation services, medical and psychological support.  Australians looking for Lebanese family members in Beirut can contact Australian Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links service via 1800 875 199 (free call from a landline) or   

Read more about how we’re helping via the IFRC website

Impact of COVID-19 on Humanitarian Settlement Program 

Our HSP teams across the country do an amazing job supporting humanitarian entrants to be safe and well and continue to support clients to develop and share their own strengths and capacities in their new home.  Through your supportive and friendly welcome, as well as hard work, we support over 1,900 refugees and humanitarian entrants across the country. This work is a key contributor to our focus as an organisation on meeting humanitarian needs, supporting participation and building a stronger welcome in Australia.  

Since March this year, however, the travel restrictions, imposed as a significant part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have directly impacted the number of refugees entering the country. One impact of no new arrivals is a decrease in the funding for Red Cross from Government as we are only funded for the services we provide. 

This has created a significant amount of uncertainty for those waiting overseas, their family members and loved ones here in Australia, the broader support teams in the sector and local communities, and our staff and volunteers. This reduction in funding will mean difficult and significant decisions must be made about our adaptation and workforce across HSP. There is no expected change to our program support for existing clients (generally across their first year of arrival). 

This week we have begun a period of planning and consultation with impacted staff and will communicate the results of this process as soon as we can. 

In the meantime, to everyone in our HSP teams, you are wonderful humanitarians and we are thinking about you at this time. You bring an enormous amount of knowledge, experience and expertise to our refugee programs, Red Cross, and the communities in which we work. We will continue to support you through this process. 

My Red Cross MVP launch

I’m excited to share with you that this month we’ll be piloting and launching the My Red Cross customer portal to our Regular Giver customers. My Red Cross is the flagship of the Digital Acceleration strategy and delivers on building our digital capability. In this first release, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) delivers an online portal in which Regular Giving customers can define how they interact and engage with us.  

Currently the portal services our Regular Givers, but in the future My Red Cross is designed to support all of our customers; donors, volunteers, members and clients through the delivery of a three-year roadmap. The Engagement and Support as well as the Volunteering and Membership directorates have been active business owners in this first phase, with Australian Programs currently investigating ways My Red Cross can support clients, supported of course by the IT team. 

On behalf of the My Red Cross steering committee, I would like to pass on our thanks to some key project leaders who have driven great cross-functional collaboration, engaged a variety of stakeholders and delivered the first phase of an ambitious project. Thank you Ramez Beshara, Lei Liang, Emma Kennedy and Donna Jiang for your leadership and dedication. 

Moving forward, the project team will be working on four concurrent streams through to Christmas, with the FY21 priorities focused on E-Commerce, Client Experience and Volunteer Experience.  

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children's Day

There was a very special event in Cairns on Tuesday this week to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day. On August 4 every year we are encouraged to celebrate and show support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and learn the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every First Nations’ child. 

More than 100 children and adults came together in Shang Park in Mooroobool, in the Cairns West area, for a party, thanks to the coordination and facilitation of Josephine Izumi and Karina Hocke in the Red Cross Cairns Community Hub. Not only did they bring a whole host of stakeholders along, they also organised meat patties, kids’ gift bags with fun goodies inside and an amazing cake baked at a local bakers. Against a backdrop of COVID restrictions and compliance requirements, that’s a remarkable achievement. 

More importantly though, the kids had a great time and their strength and culture was celebrated. I hope you also took a moment to mark the day.

No one will come to help: We must prevent nuclear catastrophe ​

On a sobering note, I’d like to share this opinion piece signed by global leaders of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement including our President, Ross Pinney. It appears in newspapers nationwide today as we remember that 75 years ago this week nuclear bombs levelled the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within 5 years 340,000 people had died because of the bombs' effects. 

I encourage you to also find a few minutes to watch and share this video. This must never happen again. “The greater the destructive power of war, the greater the necessity to spread the light of humanity into the infinite darkness”. 

Today the threat of nuclear war still hangs over all of us. No city can prepare for an atomic bomb, and no nation can effectively respond to one. The only responsible course of action is prevention.  

The risk that nuclear weapons may be used again is growing to alarming levels. And treaties to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons and the risks of their proliferation are being abandoned. As a result, the world finds itself on a dangerous path towards a new nuclear arms race, threatening the very survival of humanity. This is a reality we cannot accept.   

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement believes it is far past time that the nine nuclear-armed nations honour the memories of the victims and survivors of the atomic bombings and eliminate these unjustifiable weapons.  

Real Good Gifts

Get creative and help us create a special edition card for Real Good Gifts. This year, gifts are about helping us stay connected. We're celebrating community kindness with cards designed by the community, and we’d love you to get involved. 

  1. Design a card using the theme community kindness that's positive, light-hearted and happy. 
  2. Your design can be any medium – a drawing, painting, photograph, or a digital graphic. You don't need to be an expert artist. Everyone is encouraged to join in! 
  3. Please do not use the Red Cross emblem in your design. 
  4. It also needs to be 91mm w X 134mm h (portrait card) and 300dpi. 

Check out our website for inspiration and upload your design by 4 September 2020  at

If you have questions contact Carolyn Piggot, Experience Delivery Lead.  

A Real Good Gift can tell someone that you're thinking of them, whilst also making a difference to someone in our community who could use a helping hand right now. So grab your pencils, paintbrush or camera and get creative!​​

That's it from me, until next week.

Acting CEO