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Mental rollercoaster | Decluttering | Bushfire report 9 months on

9 October 2020

Time for a cuppa and a catch-up on happenings from across Red Cross.

Rollercoaster ride require resilience

From Michael Annear
Director, International & Movement Relations

This year has been a real rollercoaster for me, professionally and personally, and I’m guessing for you too. The impact of the pandemic on all aspects of our lives has made me step back and reflect on what is important for me and my family. I have also needed to elevate taking care of my physical and mental health as I have formed new routines, some of which I must admit have not been that healthy. I have found making time to disconnect, enjoy my hobbies, get out of the house, and remember to connect with friends, enormously beneficial. 

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day, an important reminder of the need to challenge perceptions of mental illness in Australia, where 1 in 5 people who experience mental illness do not seek help due to concerns of stigma. Unfortunately, this is a global issue. The World Health Organisation has highlighted the growing needs are not being met due to chronic underfunding and community perceptions of mental health. Concerningly the pandemic has added further challenges with mental health services reported to be disrupted in 93% of countries worldwide, at a time when the demand for mental health is increasing as a result of isolation, loss of income, fear and anxiety.

Importantly the Red Cross Red Crescent highlighted positive mental health and psychosocial well-being as being critical to the survival, recovery and daily functioning of people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters, and other crises at the 33rd International Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent in December 2019. Together with Governments the Movement committed to intensify their efforts to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into domestic and international emergency response systems, scale up investment in community-based resilience, and to address stigma, exclusion and discrimination through approaches that respect the dignity and reinforce the participation of affected people, in particular persons with lived experiences.

The global challenge is complex, however we can each make a difference. Firstly, by being mindful of our own mental health and psychosocial wellbeing and seeking support when we need it. Secondly, if we each, within our families, social networks and workplaces, actively change the way we speak about mental illness in a more positive light, we can eliminate the stigma and shame.

Support a work mate's mental health

Mental Health Awareness month seems all the more important this year. We’re all experiencing challenges that can impact our psychological wellbeing. Anthony Cameron (First Aid & Mental Health Curriculum Developer) asks, “How would you know if a colleague who is working remotely is doing OK?” and suggests how you can help in this video (1.06 mins). 

Tasmanian volunteers calling to show they care

Sharon Wachtel (Director, Tasmania) is calling out for French or Italian speaking volunteers, who are Psychological First Aid trained, to support 120 Antarctic expeditioners who will fly into Hobart next week and begin hotel quarantine. Email if you can help.

“We cannot underestimate the comfort of a friendly voice, a fellow community member showing that they care when people are often at their most vulnerable” Sharon said on the All Staff Q&A yesterday. Hear the call recording here if you missed it.

Red Cross Tasmania this week celebrated 150 days of activation making psychological first aid outreach calls to those in hotel quarantine. Volunteers came together virtually to share their experiences and a letter from the Tasmanian Premier recognised the value of their work, “I want to sincerely thank Red Cross… for the tremendous support provided to Tasmania during the pandemic… My hope is that history will record the resilience and compassion…when we look back on 2020… it is actions like those taken by Red Cross that will be foremost in their thinking”.

Bushfires report - 9 months on

Today we publicly released an update on our bushfire recovery program

Nine months on from the summer bushfires, Red Cross has provided financial assistance to 5,380 people, and supported 12,635 people through its recovery program.

Notably, 722 people applied for a grant for the first time between July and September. Many of these people had been living in very remote locations. Some said they had not felt ready to come forward before, others thought the money should go to someone ‘more deserving’.

We surveyed 460 bushfire grant recipients and:

  • 90% reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with the application process
  • 89% found Red Cross staff and volunteers supportive and helpful
  • 89% said the amount they received was enough to make a difference
  • 88% were satisfied with the time it took to receive their grant

Thank you to everyone involved in making this support possible.

South Australian celebration of resilience

Late 2019 saw the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia bearing the brunt of the first major fires. To commemorate the upcoming anniversary, a community event was held this week to unveil a memorial and acknowledge the resilience of the Yorkes community.

The Governor and his party were driven in Red Cross vehicles to tour the fire impacted areas of Honiton, Edithburgh, Yorketown to see the lasting impact of the fires.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, over 200 community members and Emergency Services representatives attended a get together.

Red Cross continues to play an integral part in the bushfire recovery on Yorke Peninsula with ongoing support from a locally based Recovery Project Officer, weekly outreach visits to impacted community members, grants for impacted families, resources for recovery and community events with a health and wellbeing focus.

From left: Alana Pedler (Operations Coordinator), Nick Banks (SA State Manager), His Excellency Hieu Van Le (Governor of SA), Mrs Le (Red Cross SA Patron), Jai O'Toole (Director SA), Lauren March (Mid North Zone Coordinator).


From Sophia Marsh (General Manager, Merchandise Procurement, Red Cross Shops)

Decluttering is something I have thrown myself into these past few weeks. My spare room is filled with storage tubs and categorised piles of clothes I love but sadly don’t fit any more. My mum says it’s the ‘nesting phase’ of pregnancy, and by gosh the nesting urge is strong. Hi, my name is Sophia. I’m part of the Retail Merchandise team, I’m also 24 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and love quality clothes. 

Anyone who has decluttered can tell you how good it feels. It's a clearing of the mind, knowing you’re getting your wardrobe organised and making space for the pieces you really love and wear. I’m even getting my kicks out of watching other people declutter. Saturday nights you’ll find me re-watching Marie Kondo episodes. 

I’m quite sentimental about my clothing, but it’s time to part ways with those special items that no longer get the wear they deserve. And knowing that my silk sequined Seduce dress can probably generate $50 for Red Cross makes parting with it so much easier. 

In fact, in celebration of our new DECLUTTERED campaign, I have decided to part ways with 15 fantastic high-quality pieces of clothing that I absolutely love but haven’t worn in years. These items deserve to be worn and I know somebody out there can give them a second life. It feels so good to declutter and do some good for the world and my wardrobe. So, go on, join me because our Red Cross Shops really need your quality clothing donations.

Our donation drive runs until 7 November. Discover how to donate

Dagoman welcome in Northern Territory

From Stan Law, Human Centered Design Lead

Traditional owner May Rosas and Dagoman elders of the lands on which we live and work, recently hosted 30 Katherine Red Cross staff and volunteers as well as residents from Red Cross Kalano Flexible Care at a local significant site, to listen, learn and be welcomed to the country.

The aim is to have all Katherine Red Cross staff and volunteers working with Traditional Owners group to assist the team to look through a cultural lens and enable a better way of working with community whom have culture authority in our region.

The agreed feeling from the Red Cross family gathered was one of a weight being lifted off their shoulders. The mood was one of peaceful contentment. The aroma of corned beef and fresh damper permeated the bush air. The splash of red worn by our Red Cross family signified our presence. It was a significant, majestic and peaceful place where the ceremony took place. The heat of central Australia held up it is reputation on the day, as we immersed into local culture.

Feel good for your Friday

We’re spotlighting unexpected acts of kindness and stories of hope to demonstrate the power of kindness to light up dark times. Like volunteer Amelia, who’s been delivering food relief packages to Melbournians during lockdown. Click the image below to view the video (1.34 mins) and follow Red Cross on social media for more.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!