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Our new President and Deputy; International Volunteer Day; and more...

6 December 2017

Hello everyone, 

What a weekend. We said farewell to Michael as our President and, after the election, welcomed Ross Pinney and Lyndal Herbert as our new President and Deputy President. In between all that? Our Board meeting and Annual General meeting. 

There were many emotions throughout the two days. We mixed laughter and tears with seriousness and professionalism. 

The Launceston Examiner have published a great tribute to Michael's time at Red Cross. In his final speech as President, in his typical humble way, he said:

“I hope I leave behind an organisation that people love volunteering for and working for.” He concluded with: “people are at the heart and soul of the Red Cross Movement, here and the world over, united by a common cause. Our people are what sets us apart today and what will set us apart into the future. I am immensely proud to be one of them.” 

Both Ross and Lyndal are excited to take on their new roles.

One comment worth sharing is a lovely response Ross received from one of our Movement partners on hearing of his appointment: “Australian Red Cross continues to be blessed with great leadership. You bring a wealth of knowledge and good old common sense, just like your predecessors.”

I’m pleased to say you can now review what you have all achieved in our 2016-2017 Annual Report. My thanks to everyone who helped pull this work together.

On International Volunteer Day, here’s ‘hello’ from Ken

“It's amazing when you've been married for so long and you've had somebody, to then be on your own. To have to adjust, it's very difficult. 

Family and friends are wonderful, but I’m still a people person and I like people around me. Two illnesses and operations restricted me quite a lot, not only because I couldn't drive my car for a long while, but then it was about having the desire to go out.

So I contacted Red Cross and through that that I met Zoe. I spoke to Zoe Carter on the phone and Zoe arranged to bring out a volunteer to see whether that person and I, we could sort of match. To help me get over my…well, loneliness.

I didn't quite know what to expect because well first of all Zoe said to me "I'm bringing a student out to you and he's 20". I thought “my goodness. What are we going to have in common?”.

I met Chris at the front door, he came in, and after his first initial visits, well we started having a few games of cards, and we found out a few common interests. And it just grew. I found out that Chris was interested in stamp collecting and I am too, so we were able to exchange a few stamps. 

I had this nice piece of timber, cedar timber, and I made Chris a little box to put on his desk, to put his pens and things in it, and I gave it to him. And then from there he intimated to me that yes he's really interested in the woodwork, so we went outside to the garage and I taught him. I got him to probably get a few more muscles on his arms using that planer, and I thought 'well, he wants to do this, he's got to learn, so this is how'. 

I guess sometimes without realising it we can let ourselves get in a rut and we can lock ourselves in to a certain position and not realise that ‘oh but I used to do this, and I used to do that’. And I think by just having a casual chat to Chris and finding out that he was interested in woodwork, we went out into the garage and it rejuvenated me, it's got me interested again.

My mother taught us the best way to make somebody happy is for you to be happy, and to pass that on to another person. And that's my motto. And I'm sure the fact that I've done something for Chris, if he's learnt something from it, well then I'm happy.”

Ken, Croydon Hills VIC, 82 years old

I wanted to share the above message from Ken for two reasons:

Firstly, today is International Volunteer Day. I would like to send my whole-hearted thanks to volunteers everywhere. Ken is one of many thousands of people whose lives are made brighter by our volunteers – whether it be through a weekly visit, a phone call, a lift to an appointment, sharing information so people can make informed decisions, helping out in an office, branch or shop, or encouraging someone to be their best self. These actions connect people and make society a better place for all of us. So thank you to everyone who volunteers.

If you have a volunteer story to tell – perhaps about your own experience or of when a volunteer helped you – please share it with us on our Facebook page or email

Secondly, you may have noticed on our social media channels and website that we have started celebrating the Season of Belonging. The festive season can be a lonely time for many people but each of us can change that by taking action in our own communities, or making a donation to support Red Cross’ work. Here are five things you can do to make this the Season of Belonging - from welcoming someone new in town, to being kind on social media.

Our Florence Nightingale award recipients at Government House.

Honouring our Red Cross nurses

Today five extraordinary women who have worked in some of the most complex and dangerous environments around the world were awarded the International Red Cross’ highest honour, the Florence Nightingale Award.

Congratulations to Anne Carey, Barbara McMaster, Catherine Salmon, Catherine Fry and Ruth Jebb on this much-deserved award. From South Sudan to Yemen to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan, these women have worked side by side with local staff and volunteers as they treat horrific injuries caused by weapons, care for patients suffering Ebola and change the lives of many more by educating and mentoring them on hygiene and disease prevention.

The ceremony was held this morning at Government House in Canberra and I’d like to echo our Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove’s sentiments:

“Your determination to change lives is the hallmark of not just your careers, but also your lives. Ultimately yours is a human pursuit and it is your humanity, selflessness, courage and compassion that we are here to recognise.”

You can read more about what each of these women have achieved, here.

Connecting recently-arrived Australians with job opportunities

Earlier this year we asked our asylum seeker clients about their most important humanitarian needs. Eighty percent told us that access to employment and training was a priority. No matter how they came to Australia, finding a job was the toughest challenge, especially considering many employers require local experience and jobs are often found through word of mouth or contacts.

We’ve taken this feedback on board and this week we launched a network called In Work Australia to help migrants find and enjoy work in Australia.

In Work Australia is part of our social cohesion initiative, delivered in partnership with the Department of Social Services. It includes a Facebook group where people can share tips, a LinkedIn group where people can make connections, and face to face mentoring.

The network will also provide a place of support for people who have found a job, but find it hard to negotiate better conditions or adapt to their new workplace culture. I encourage you to jump in and take a look around - share some tips, answer questions and help us make a difference.

Blog takeover: Tell us what you're proud of!

I'm really keen to use next week's blog to celebrate what you've achieved throughout the year. Please send me a short story that describes the highlights from your year as well as a pic or two. We'll put a selection together in a celebratory blog.

Email me and with your story.

Thanks everyone,