What we can learn from Zoos Victoria
There’s a little bird called the Helmeted Honeyeater that was perilously close to extinction. But thanks to the dedicated work of Zoos Victoria, and their partners, it is now one of the stars in the story of how the zoo is working to save the state’s endangered wildlife.
A few years back, the team at Zoos Victoria set a goal to be a world-leading conservation zoo; their ambition is that no Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species will become extinct on their watch.
Supported by data and science they’ve focused on the 21 species at the highest risk of extinction. Turning around the fortunes of each species is complex, will take years and involve tackling many external factors and pressures.
Zoos Victoria CEO, Dr Jenny Gray, was the keynote speaker at our Red Cross Summit last week. What an impressive woman and what an impressive organisation. They’ve decided to take control of their own destiny rather than wait for funding. They’ve invested in increasing their staff’s capability in certain areas such as lean processes, and they’re working to eliminate duplication of resources and to cut costs.
The Red Cross Summit
The Red Cross Summit brought together our senior leaders with the aim of assessing how we’re going. And to agree on what we need to do better to achieve our Strategy 2020 ambitions, in a rapidly changing world where things seem to be getting tougher for people who are vulnerable.
We have our own version of Zoos Victoria’s targets – that’s our strategy outcomes, such as the most excluded and vulnerable can thrive, people are prepared for disasters and we have smarter justice and safer communities.
After hearing about Zoos Victoria’s achievements we recounted some of our own. We all wrote notes of the successes we were proud of from the last year and by the end we had a list of 160.
How are we tracking and looking ahead
The last six months have been really solid. Our people have supported many in the community, we’ve developed and launched new approaches (like our Get Prepared app), opened new shops, launched new training and leadership programs, started our Pulse check staff survey, made cost savings, delivered on our fundraising targets and pushed ourselves hard to think creatively about how we achieve our ambitions.
We also spent time at the summit looking at what’s coming up in the next six months.
The next few months are really big
We’re launching and implementing several initiatives, such as the Android version of the Get Prepared app and our version of the Irish prison program. Plus, there’s a digital support network called 'MyTeam' for people who have lived experience of mental illness and we’re beginning work on a digital tool to help match people who want to volunteer and take action. We’re also working hard to get 14,000 Australians involved in Red Cross Calling – double last year – see more on that below.
Each of the goals has a common thread: helping people find and enjoy positive social connections. Connections that mean something and that stick. We’ve set up a cross-functional team to give us the best chance of these initiatives reaching and sticking with as many people as possible, in a way which is aligned. They have called themselves Project Gecko given the importance of stickiness. If you know of something happening in your part of Red Cross that aligns with the above goals, please contact someone in the Gecko team. Find out more.
As well as these initiatives we will be supporting asylum seekers and staff as we move away from the SRSS program, continuing the development of the Humanitarian Settlement Program and our ongoing work across the whole organisation.
There are also some storm clouds brewing. We spent time working through these issues and developing ideas to tackle the challenges. It is good to look to the next one to two years and prepare and we’ll now take all this input to build our plans. Your team leaders who were at the summit will update you more this week.
Red Cross Calling
Every March, for the last 70 years, volunteers have generously shown their support, shaking a tin with a smile for Red Cross Calling. This community initiative is all about friends, families and colleagues joining together in a giant gesture of support for people who’ve fallen on tough times.
So far this year we have 12,759 people signed up – nearly double last year and so close to our target of 14,000. Each of these volunteers have the opportunity to upload their picture to our real-time map, showing a snapshot of people across the country taking voluntary action for Red Cross Calling.
There are so many ways you can get involved from hitting the pavement and door knocking to holding your own coin collection. You can also design your own online challenge - I’ve been mulling over mine. No alcohol for a month (hmm), getting 50 people to complete the Get Prepared app (big time commitment) or wearing skirts or dresses for a month (eek, I’d need to raid some of our shops). I’ll tell you next week what I’ve decided.
You’ll also have family, friends and others you can involve - they can be anywhere in the world and come up with their own challenge. Here's a little something to get you inspired. Register here.
Daly River flooding
With floodwaters still at dangerously high levels, the residents of Daly River in the Northern Territory will not be able to return to their homes for a few days more. Housed in temporary accommodation at a Darwin evacuation centre, the community is keeping close and monitoring the situation.
Red Cross volunteers and staff have been on hand to provide updates and assistance to the 280 people – almost the entire community - evacuated from the region. This involves both practical and psychological support – leaving your home to the mercy of the floodwaters can cause anxiety and endless worry.
Most residents just grabbed what they could before boarding helicopters for Darwin but some were able to take sentimental items, like photos and toys, which will help them recover better. Residents have demonstrated great resilience since being evacuated but we know this can wane as time goes by.
We will be there for them while they are living temporarily in the evacuation centre, when they return home and during the clean-up operation.
Unanimous vote for IFRC Secretary General
The International Federation of Red Cross Board has unanimously voted to extend the contract of their Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, for four more years. They said: “We are honoured to have him as our Secretary General: his professionalism and heart will play a key role in the future.”
Here’s what As said on Twitter.
He has a big humanitarian heart which shines through in all his work and decisions. I am so glad to have the chance to continue working with him.
Have a great week everyone.