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Updates from New Zealand | NSW Australian of the Year | Blog takeover

7 November 2019

Updates from New Zealand

Hi everyone,

Ross (our President) and I attended the New Zealand Red Cross AGM, National Council and a series of well-prepared workshops on a range of important subjects to us all. 

We and New Zealand Red Cross have so much in common and we are always there for each other in the toughest of times so it is important to have time together. 

I have a few things to share with you. Here is the video, of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions highlighting the importance that the New Zealand government places on these critical conventions.

I thought you’d like to see the Year-in-Review video from Niamh Lawless, the Secretary-General of New Zealand Red Cross.

It is a wonderful reflection of the year they have had. Niamh and I have given each other wonderful mutual support through the highs and lows. It is a privilege to work alongside someone like Niamh.

Kerry Nickels, their National President, gave her annual report, mentioning two of the most important events of the year for them.

“The most impactful of these events was the Christchurch attacks on 15 March. This tragic event has had a significant impact on communities around New Zealand, but none more so than our Muslim communities and other migrants to our country.

Through such a devastating period, I was very proud of our Disaster Response Team supporting affected communities on the ground, our Restoring Family Links team working hard to make sure that loved ones from around the world could be connected, and our Migration Programme team going above and beyond to make sure that our former refugee clients felt safe again. From the worst of humanity, we saw the best of humanity as communities came together to support each other in a myriad of ways.

Another significant event this year was the public release of information that one of our International delegates, Louisa Akavi, was kidnapped in Syria in 2013 and remains missing. This has been extremely difficult for Louisa’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as the staff who work closely on this case, and I wish to express my gratitude again for the way everyone supported each other during this intensified period of publicity.”

mportantly, New Zealand Red Cross approved their Strategy 2030. In presenting it they used this quote by Dr Ian Williamson (Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Dean of Commerce at the Victoria University of Wellington Business School) who spoke at one of their leaders workshop:

“A strategy simply tells you what you will do, and what you won’t do”.

New Zealand Red Cross faces very similar challenges and opportunities to us – the growing impact of a changing climate, the increasing number of displaced people, the growing international humanitarian needs.  

After 18 months of consultation and development they have approved a strategy which will significantly focus the work that they do. They will be focussing their core activities – “what we are great at, where we can have the greatest impact, where we have unique skills and contributions to make”. 

“This will be an evolution not a revolution and a change we will make over time.”

The dinner speaker – Jo Cribb spoke about 'Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century'.  She was fantastic – funny, engaging and inspiring.  She reminded us all of the change we have been through in the last decades – “The delicious anticipation of picking up your developed photos from the chemist, wondering and hoping whether that one shot was going to come out?” and encouraged us to use our ability to change (as we have) to build on the powerful legacy of Red Cross to have an even greater impact.

Now to the blog takeover.  

Blog takeover – Food for thought

By Anthony Benedyka (Participation and Inclusion Project Officer)

Food security is an ongoing issue for all groups of people we work with in the community. In response to this, The North Melbourne office established a Food Pantry providing free food to people who visit our office and are facing financial stress. The Food Pantry is an important resource for migrants and people seeking asylum in the community, and since it started operating, has helped feed the equivalent of over 5,000 people.

The majority of Food Pantry visitors are single parent families and people who are isolated. We have a wonderful team of volunteers led by the Victorian Community Programs and Migration Support teams and strong relationships with Second Bite and Oz Harvest. These relationships have led to an increase in quality of food, with more fruit, vegetables and meat (non-Halal) provided as the program has developed.

A recent call out to the local North Melbourne community had an amazing response, with local school children contributing donations that they purchased with their pocket money.

To learn more or to make a donation of food and other personal items, please contact Anthony Benedyka.

Blog takeover - Capturing Language and Culture 

By Julie Kirk (Regional Operations Manager – Central Region)

2019 is the United Nations International Year of Indigenous languages. This theme has inspired the Narooma Hub team to build on our strong connections with our local Aboriginal community and create opportunities to learn more and spread the use of the local Aboriginal language, Dhurga. 

Over the past couple of months, the Red Cross team has mentored Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in filmmaking at our local high school. We saw an opportunity to connect the high school and primary school students, who were learning songs in the Dhurga language. This resulted in a powerful cultural immersion day last week with big kids filming little kids! The Year 3 & 4 Balindjang (meaning saltwater) class sang two songs in the Dhurga language with the endorsement of the Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council. 

A wonderful community volunteer and the Red Cross team cooked up a great cultural feast – including Fresh Fruit, Abalone Fried Rice, Bibbala Stir Fry, Mussel Carbonara, Fish Soup and Oyster Coconut Curry. Lemon Myrtle Lemonade was a well-received refreshment for the day. Many of the students tried foods for the first time, with plenty coming back for seconds!

The successful day was even covered in the Bega District News. Congratulations to the Narooma Hub, it was an all team effort.

Prof Munjed is 2020 NSW Australian of the Year

A huge congratulations to Professor Munjed Al Muderis for being awarded the 2020 NSW Australian of the Year.

Prof Munjed is a leading orthopedic surgeon, former refugee, and Australian Red Cross Ambassador. He was awarded 2020 NSW Australian of the Year on Monday, after he overcame extraordinary obstacles to perform work that helps people throughout the world.

The Awards honour an exceptional group of highly-respected Australians who ignite discussion and change on issues of national importance. 

His honour roll reads: "Munjed exemplifies the valuable and positive contribution that refugees can make - leading by example what it means to be Australian.”

Prof Munjed's personal story of fleeing Iraq and coming to Australia as a refugee makes him a powerful advocate for our humanitarian work supporting vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.

His surgical innovations and breakthroughs are helping Australians and people throughout the world.

We are privileged to have him as an ambassador and a role model.

Talk to you soon.