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News from WA and Tasmania, #BeatLoneliness progress & Family Matters

15 May 2018

Hi all,

On Friday, and over the weekend, people across the country have been following the devastating news of the tragic deaths of eight people in Osmington, on the outskirts of Margaret River in WA’s South West.

Tragedy in Western Australia’s South West

While we now know what happened on the morning of 11 May, the reality facing the community of losing seven of their own, including four children, is hard to comprehend. On hearing of this tragedy we contacted Shire of Augusta / Margaret River to offer our support to their community.

As a result, an amazing group of Red Cross volunteers have been providing pychological frst ad to the community across the weekend. They have seen a variety of responses, and are supporting the community through it.

One of the major concerns for residents is how to explain the unexplainable to their children. In addition to providing immediate support, our volunteers have been referring people to other agencies and distributing resources, pamphlets, information guides, including the “Helping Children and Young People Cope with crisis” booklet.

Flooding in Hobart

An extreme storm hit Tasmania on Friday, damaging homes, cars, schools and businesses, and over 1,400 homes affected with power outage. The recovery from the flood can be a long and tiring process and it is so important to make sure you look after yourselves.

If you have friends or families in the area, it’s always good to check if they’re OK and if they need further support. You can find out more about our recovery resources, recovery resources, including how to speak to children following a traumatic event here.

Skyrockets Homework Group

Skyrockets and Get Prepared app

Penny Harrison, Director of Volunteering led a session in Coffs Harbour during World Red Cross Day last week. I had the chance to hear from our members and volunteers about the great things that they’ve been doing. In particular, the Red Cross Migrant Parenting Program and the Red Cross Woolgoolga Branch developed the Skyrockets Homework Group to provide a safe, supportive and fun environment for the children of ex-refugees.

The program is a great initiative to support children in maths and skill-building, reading, spelling and story writing and assistance with understanding their assignments. A Red Cross volunteer also transports the children from the school to the Uniting Church Hall where the group meets weekly.

“I am so happy that my children can come here where they can learn and they feel so loved,” says a parent.

At the same session, Penny shared ideas on ways where we could best connect members to facilitate the exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources. One of these ways is through an action toolkit full of information about things to get involved in or lead locally. The kit includes a call to download and amplify the Get Prepared app; an action that the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads and Bellingen branches have already run with by hosting a 'preparedness' picnic which are all about getting to know others in the community over cheese and fruit while learning more about Red Cross’ preparedness work and the Get Prepared app.

#BeatLoneliness progress

Great results so far from #BeatLoneliness.

A total of 367 teams (and thousands of players) have registered including an entire hockey club and a diverse range of sports including soccer, futsal, quidditch, longboard skateboarding, synchronised figure skating, Pokemon, trail running, Pool, esport and aerobic fitness. What a fantastic line-up! If you want to join you can register your interest here.

If you didn’t manage to catch Penny’s interview on Life Matters, ABC Radio last week, I highly recommend it. Penny talked about how important it is to start conversations around the topic of loneliness, particularly for young people.

“Loneliness is an issue… it’s an issue that many of us may face in our lifetime… particularly for young people, it is actually OK to talk about (loneliness) and more than that they need to recognise that by coming together in their existing environments they are actually already doing something to tackle it and really take the benefit from that,” says Penny.

Strong Communities. Strong Culture. Stronger Children.

This week, Red Cross joins Family Matters’ National Week of Action, an annual event to highlight issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and to shine a light on the impact of disconnection from community, culture and country.

Family Matters: Strong Communities. Strong Culture. Stronger Children is Australia’s national campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture. At Red Cross, we know that that ‘together we can break the cycle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removal.’

We want to continue to create opportunities for families to thrive and grow stronger, to empower young people to achieve their dreams and be proud of their heritage and for communities to grow healthier and safer. You can read about some of our work in Woorabinda or Broome where we partner with a number of organisations to deliver unique programs like the Young Warriors, where we take young boys out on country. 

I encourage you to talk to your family members, friend, colleague, neighbour, on how we can drive local change and inform on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders families.

Man with the Golden Arm

I’m sure many of you have read or watched the news recently on James Harrison who has made an astonishing 1,173 donations to Red Cross Blood Services RhD program.  

James’ plasma contains a rare antibody that is used to make lifesaving medication called the Anti-D that can be used save babies with hemolytic disease or HDN. His blood has helped to save been over 2.4 million Australian babies. Last Friday, James made his last donation after 60 years of contributions.  What an amazing man and an amazing story by Blood Service.

Best wishes,