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Celebrating the spirit of Humanitarianism, Sydney - 11 May, 2018

Members, guests and supporters gathered at the magnificent State Library of NSW on Friday 11 May to preview the extraordinary historical archives of Australian Red Cross at yet another exclusive and full to capacity SWL event.
Designed by Member & Partnership Adviser NSW, Rowena McGilvray and sponsored by her and fellow Members Selena Spring, Irina Al Muderis and Anita Pahor, guests enjoyed a champagne reception in the recently renovated Friends Room on the ground floor of the historic Mitchell Library building. Dr Haneman’s quirky collection of 1,100 editions of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote still line the walls in the recently renovated reception room.

Before viewing the archive pieces, Members and guests heard from SWL Chair Anita Pahor, who gave a welcome and introduction to the evening on behalf of SWL leadership. After thanking host Rowena McGilvray, who organised the event and curated the archive pieces for the night, Anita also gave guests an exciting update on an important milestone for SWL. Members have now raised almost $500,000 for Australian Red Cross – more than any other year.  This means that SWL will now be able to fulfil four out of five program pledges made at the Members meeting in November last year. Only one funding pledge remains for the Kwinana program supporting Aboriginal communities in WA, with only $27,000 left to raise to support this project remaining.

Following this exciting update, Anita passed over to Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, Chair of History at Flinders University and author of ‘The Power of Humanity:  100 Years of Australian Red Cross’. Melanie gave the audience a fascinating insight into how she became interested in the Red Cross after finding her grandmothers overalls from the First World War. Alongside her overalls, she found letters and personal items which gave her a picture of how important women like her grandmother were in forming and running the Australian Red Cross. This insight led Melanie to her significant research into the Red Cross and more specifically, its founder, Lady Helen Munroe Ferguson and her significant impact on the Australian Red Cross we know today.

Following Melanie’s historical insights, Judy Slatyer, CEO of Australian Red Cross gave the audience an update on some of the organisations current humanitarian work, including the new ‘Beat Loneliness’ campaign, targeting young men aged 18-24 who are often the loneliest in our communities across Australia. As well as the latest activity happening across Australian Red Cross, Judy also thanked SWL for their continued dedication to the organisation, and encouraged ongoing collaboration in other areas, including sharing the unique and valuable skills, knowledge and networks of SWL members to add value across the organisation. 

Eager to see the main attraction of the night, the Red Cross archive pieces which had been expertly curated by Rowena and staff at the State Library, guests then made their way round the room to view a number of items which depicted women’s contribution to the Red Cross throughout history.  State Library of NSW staff were on hand to explain the history of each archived item to members so they could learn the story behind each piece.

Thank you to Rowena McGilvray, The State Library of NSW, Melanie Oppenheimer, Judy Slatyer and SWL Leadership, Members and guests for supporting this beautiful and very informative event.