A message from the Chair and Executive Director
March was a very busy month for our emergency services as two cyclones, Tropical Cyclone Marcia and Tropical Cyclone Nathan crossed the Queensland coast, and Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu. More recently, we have helped to provide relief for communities devastated by the earthquakes in Nepal. We know that many of our volunteers have helped during more than one emergency this year, supported by many members who worked tirelessly as well. Thank you for your dedication.
Cyclone Marcia caused flooding and damage to Yeppoon, Rockhampton and surrounding areas in central Queensland. There were more than 700 volunteer activations in total, and many volunteers were sent to help twice.
At very short notice, Australian Red Cross directed more than $8 million of government-funded aid and support to help 12,000 vulnerable households and 40,000 individuals, all in just a few weeks. This was an outstanding humanitarian intervention of which you should be very proud. Feedback in the local community, as well as in the press, on radio and TV, and on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.
Tropical Cyclone Nathan crossed the Queensland coast with very little damage, which was a relief to all after the devastation caused by Cyclone Marcia. Vanuatu was not so lucky when Cyclone Pam passed through, affecting half the Pacific nation’s population and resulting in loss of life as well as major damage to infrastructure. We immediately launched an appeal to assist the country, as well as assisting with the repatriation of Australians at Brisbane International Airport. We are grateful for the support of our members and volunteers in spreading awareness of both our Cyclone Pam (Vanuatu) Appeal, that has now closed after receiving generous donations, and our Nepal Region Earthquake Appeal, which continues to raise precious funds.
On another note, we are pleased to advise that Alan Clayton (our previous Queensland Divisional Advisory Board Chair) and Win Smith (our previous Deputy Chair) were both awarded Members of the Order of Australia (AMs) earlier this year. It’s a fantastic acknowledgement of their decades of voluntary service to Queensland and Australia.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue of the newsletter. Thanks for your ongoing support.
Queensland Divisional Advisory Board Chair
Executive Director Queensland
Red Cross was a godsend
David Dunkinson says he hates to think where he would have ended up if it wasn’t for the support of Red Cross when Tropical Cyclone Marcia hit his town in February.
With no power or communications and widespread damage in his neighbourhood, David and his family found their way to a community hall at Emu Park in central Queensland.
He suddenly began to feel unwell, and his son alerted a nearby Red Cross worker. Team member Eva Ruggiero noticed he was going blue and she stayed by his side while she called an ambulance.
“She was a godsend,” David says. “She rang the ambulance, they got me some oxygen. She was a lovely lady.
“It was great. [Without Red Cross] we’d still be in a hole. I’d have ended up in hospital.”
Eva was working in an outreach team visiting outlying coastal communities as part of our recovery efforts after the category five cyclone crashed across the Capricorn coast.
In addition to providing our own ongoing support to affected communities, we assisted the Queensland Government to distribute food vouchers in the aftermath of the cyclone. Visit redcross.org.au/recover to learn more about recovering from an emergency.
High tea a huge hit
Queensland’s Western Suburbs Branch is renowned for its hugely successful high tea functions.
For its most recent event, the branch arranged as guest speaker Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Director Li Cunxin, who wrote the book Mao’s Last Dancer.
Unfortunately Li was forced to pull out at the last minute, but his wife Mary, herself an accomplished ballerina, attended in his place. She shared some amazing stories about her life and work with Li.
The function was attended by a large, enthusiastic crowd of 160. Branch President Helen Clarke says it was a tremendous social and financial success.
“Mary gave a personal insight to her life with her husband. She talked about how she gave up her career to look after their profoundly deaf daughter. I think everybody enjoyed hearing this personal account.
“She’s also danced in a lot of ballets around the world so it was riveting hearing about that, and she was a very natural speaker, which created a very intimate atmosphere,” Helen says.
Red Cross donor and supporter Valerie Webber (pictured) saw Mary and Li dancing together in 1988 with the Houston Ballet and she showed some photos and shared her experiences with the audience.
All money raised from this function will go towards Red Cross’ everyday work.
Students eager to volunteer
Final-year students at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School are keen to volunteer with Red Cross after learning about our large range of volunteer opportunities at a recent careers day.
The event was intended to provide Year 12 students with options for what to do when they finish school.
Red Cross Social Support Officer Jill Yates explained to the girls they could gain experience in a range of roles as Red Cross volunteers.
Jill says that volunteering with a well established organisation like Red Cross makes young people more employable.
“Many of the girls didn’t realise they could volunteer in such a wide range of services with Red Cross and quite a few of them said they would definitely like to volunteer and would be signing up.”
Red Cross staff members Aaron Holt and Jill Yates share volunteering opportunities with high school students.
Seven Network featured the event on its local Rockhampton news bulletin that evening, and student Courtney Cook told TV reporters she was keen to sign up with Red Cross.
“I’m going to go online and register for some volunteer work that I found,” she said.
Visit redcross.org.au/volunteer to view our current opportunities around Australia.
Celebrating our amazing women
Women came together to celebrate International Women’s Day in support of Red Cross at events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Women have been at the forefront of Australian Red Cross ever since we were founded by a remarkable woman, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, in the days after the outbreak of World War One. By World War Two more than 450,000 Australians were members of Australian Red Cross, and 95 per cent of members were women, making Red Cross arguably the largest women’s organisation in Australian history.
Attendees of the Brisbane International Women’s Day event were humbled to hear from a number of Red Cross aid workers including Tracy Zordan, a Brisbane nurse with more than 16 years worth of experience in the health industry. Tracy recently spent five weeks in a 60-person Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone at a time when more than 21,000 people had been infected with Ebola across Western Africa.
Dr Jenny Stedmon also discussed the missions she has undertaken with Red Cross internationally over 20 years, spanning places like Yemen, the Thai-Cambodian and Kenya-Sudan borders, Timor-Leste and the Philippines.
On International Women’s Day and every day, we pay tribute to the extraordinary work that women undertake for Red Cross and to the women we help to make lasting, positive changes in their lives.