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Boardroom series luncheon - LK Group, Melbourne - 17 August, 2017

Our event in Melbourne held on Thursday 17 August was generously hosted by Larry Kestelman and LK Group at their offices in Melbourne.

One of the most enjoyable parts of being a member of Australian Red Cross Society of Women Leaders is the chance to attend our Boardroom series luncheons.  Our event in Melbourne held on Thursday 17 August was generously hosted by Larry Kestelman and LK Group at their offices in Melbourne.

The event commenced with a welcome from Larry, who spoke about the diverse portfolio of LK Group and of his personal connection to Red Cross. Larry told guests that his Mum worked for the Blood Service and that the cause was close to his heart. "I have seen people become a better version of themselves after getting involved with Red Cross" said Larry.  The longer I am involved with the Red Cross, the more stories I hear of personal connection, in many different forms that people have with the Red Cross, the more I want to be involved!

Interim Co-Chair Anita Pahor thanked Larry for hosting and welcomed our members & guests reiterating that it was a wonderful opportunity for both members and women interested in joining our unique circle of giving to come together over an informative lunch.

Anita then told the group about her background and humanitarian journey spanning roles in the renewable energy sector, micro-finance and finally to Australian Red Cross where she now holds a dual role as Senior Philanthropic Executive & SWL Liaison. Anita has recently taken on the role of Interim Co-Chair to guide the group through implementing a rigorous governance structure.

Anita welcomed Wenda Donaldson, Director of Red Cross Victoria, to speak about the humanitarian work Australian Red Cross is doing locally to support vulnerable women and children, and to introduce Maureen Dawson- Smith and Kim Van Den Nouwelant to speak about two programs that have been recently pitched to SWL Melbourne members to secure funding.  Originally 4 groups pitched to the Melbourne Co-hort who then as part of the process voted for their favourite program. During the initial vote the members chose 2 potential programs and requested to have them re-pitch today, A process that would provide the next program for the SWL to support.

Wenda started by saying that she holds the relationship between Australian Red Cross in Victoria and Society of Women Leaders very dear. She spoke to the group about the seven fundamental principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Universality and Unity that underpins the work of Australian Red Cross. She spoke of how Red Cross works to empower individuals so that they can move themselves out of vulnerability. Wenda introduced Maureen Dawson- Smith, Manager of Community Programs, who spoke to the group about the community Doula project. The program aims to place doula volunteers in the community to support children and families in the first years of a child's life, because every child deserves the chance to thrive. Many families that Australian Red Cross works with are disadvantaged and socially excluded who may carry generational trauma and experience high levels of stress, grief and fear. The community doula project program is backed by research proving that supporting children's development in their first 3 years, or first 1000 days, makes a significant impact on their capacity to live a full and healthy life. With the support that a doula can provide, children will have more fun, social interaction and positive relationships which will in turn create a more safe and empathetic community.

The group then heard from Kim Van Den Nouwelant who spoke of a program to support people seeking asylum at risk of destitution. Kim told the group that it's estimated that there are 10,000 people currently seeking asylum in Victoria who are awaiting an outcome on their application who are at risk of becoming ineligible to receive Medicare, work rights and access to vital services. This means that potentially thousands of people will soon have unmet needs and is a humanitarian crisis. Kim said that the greatest challenge is finding affordable and sustainable housing for families at great risk of destitution. The program is seeking direct assistance to keep 30 people housed, with access to education, health and mental health professionals and a connection to their community.

The two pitches were extremely well received by both members and their guests. The content of both triggered many questions and a lively discussion followed. As these things tend to go…the ladies attending spoke freely and with passion, covering many topics from raising well happy and healthy Children, to sociology & Maslows hierarchy of needs!

The Boardroom Serious Lunch was a wonderful success and provided yet another opportunity for the SWL members & guests to become more involved in their philanthropy.

The Australian Red Cross Society of Women Leaders is a philanthropic group of women who want to be closer to their giving and more engaged in their philanthropic journey. We thank all our guests for attending and hope to see them at the next event!