A message from the Chair and Director
We all breathed a sigh of relief when the only two cyclones that developed off our coast this summer veered away west without causing any problems. We were also fortunate that although the Territory recorded its third wettest season, there was no serious flooding – the people of Daly River (Nauiyu) would have been watching river levels closely.
While it was quiet here, Tropical Cyclone Debbie was causing havoc in Queensland and New South Wales. We sent 11 specialist staff and volunteers to support our colleagues and their cyclone-affected communities, while another team of volunteers held the fort back in Darwin.
The expertise of our staff and volunteers who are accustomed to the destructive nature of cyclones was invaluable to the recovery effort. We are also grateful to the employers who allowed our volunteers to take time off work and travel to the worst-hit areas.
Youth justice continues to create headlines in the Northern Territory. However Darwin-based youth diversionary programs recently received the good news that the lease on our youth drop-in centre, The Shak, will be renewed.
Turn to page 11 for an article on The Shak and a couch surfing competition the team took part in during Youth Week celebrations. Thanks to everyone who attended the ANZAC Day commemorations in Darwin, Palmerston and Adelaide River.
Meanwhile, our migrant support program team is starting discussions with the community and government about an ugly side of migration – human trafficking. A recent Red Cross study found that human trafficking in the Territory may be much more prevalent than previously thought.
Director, Northern Territory
Territorians accustomed to cyclone season and the destructive flooding that follows were ready to reach out to Queenslanders when Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall in North Queensland.
Northern Territory Emergency Services sent 11 volunteers – from Alice Springs, Katherine and the Darwin region – to assist communities in Rockhampton, Airlie Beach and Mackay as well as staff the Emergency Operations Centre in Brisbane. Seven of those team members set up and managed the evacuation centre in Rockhampton, working with local volunteers as well as teams from New South Wales and Victoria to assist the community forced to leave their homes.
One volunteer, Darwin teacher Melissa Hawkes, was keen to assist but concerned she might not get time off work. “I called my boss to ask him and really thought he would say no – but he was really supportive. He said that if things went wrong for us in the NT, we would want Queensland’s help so we should go help them when they need it, too.” Within 24 hours, Melissa had her bags packed and was on her way to Queensland.
Volunteers Delma Swan and Heather Prendergast stayed in Darwin and spent many hours in head office, contacting the NT volunteers in the field, doing welfare checks, confirming travel details and seeing people off at the airport – even at 1am. It was an important reminder of how much work goes on behind the scenes to ensure Red Cross people are safe and prepared in the field while providing the best possible assistance to communities on the ground.
Forum aims to turn goodwill into action
Identifying the barriers to volunteering was one of the workshops held at the Indigenous Giving and Volunteering Forum in Darwin.
The forum was a collaboration between the Australian Government Department of Social Services, Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA), Australian Red Cross Northern Territory, Volunteering NT and the NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation.
Forum attendees included community organisations interested in broadening their volunteer base, volunteer organisations interested in engaging with Indigenous organisations and Indigenous organisations seeking support for their own volunteer efforts.
CIRCA presented research on Indigenous giving and volunteering, while Red Cross hosted a workshop about the changes and challenges of volunteering. Other forums addressed key questions around volunteering and giving in Indigenous communities, with attendees identifying the barriers to volunteering and giving, learning practical initiatives to build bridges for Indigenous volunteering and giving, and translating the research into practical and innovative action.
On the couch
Brightly painted couches adorned with flags and symbols raced past the Northern Territory Parliament in Darwin earlier this year to highlight the plight of homeless youth.
While the couches on wheels became racers for the day, nearly 4,000 young Territorians sleep on the makeshift beds every night as they search for accommodation and couch surf between friends’ places.
Organised by Anglicare NT, the annual couch surfing race was held on Youth Homelessness Matters Day in April, with 26 teams taking part.
The team from The SHAK, our Darwin youth centre, won the event, painting their couch with Indigenous saltwater animals and adding their handprints. John, Alan and Tyrelle — supported by Gavin and Shaun — faced strong competition from the Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services team but maintained their composure to take home gold.
For some 30 years, the Red Cross-operated youth centre has been a place where young people can have fun, be safe and take part in activities.
Following the event, the winning couch returned to its home at The SHAK.
Contact your local Red Cross office for more information