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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9092


Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (10:41): Recently I was surfing the Net and came across a series of dreadful images. There were wrecked cars and buildings, with smoke rising to the sky and limbs and body parts scattered on the ground. It was another international war zone. The people who survived this attack looked very sad, very hungry, very tired and very frightened. The next image was of a small boy hugging two large loaves of bread close to his chest and flashing a big smile on his face. In the background was a truck with a familiar image—a red cross on a white background. The two loaves of bread that the Red Cross gave the boy would not be enough to stop the conflict that most likely claimed the lives of some of his family, but at that moment in time it was enough to symbolise that humanity had a mightier impact than any weapon.

It does not matter which language you speak: Red Cross provides help to people without discrimination. With its slogan, 'the power of humanity; people helping people', it is the world's largest humanitarian movement. That is why it is fitting that we acknowledge the work of the Red Cross this year as the organisation celebrates 100 years in Australia. In 1914, nine days after the declaration of World War I, the Red Cross movement in Australia was born. It originally took the name 'the Australian branch of the British Red Cross Society'. My own experience at the receiving end of the Red Cross was when my daughter had open-heart surgery at the age of five. Red Cross provided accommodation for me close to Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane's major heart surgery unit. They looked out for me at a time which was very distressing.

At home in Australia, Red Cross may not be directly involved in war zones, but it offers vital assistance in times of natural disaster. You will no doubt recall many such occasions. When Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974, Red Cross was there to help. When the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfires devastated parts of South Australia and Victoria, Red Cross was there to help. When Australians were injured or killed in the Bali terrorist bombings, Red Cross was there to help. When flash-flooding left many people dead or homeless in the Lockyer Valley near Toowoomba, in Bundaberg and in Brisbane in 2011, Red Cross was there to help. The floods claimed 35 lives and affected 200,000 people. And when category 5 Cyclone Yasi, one of the biggest in Australian history, struck the North Queensland coast and devastated many communities, Red Cross was there to help. In many areas, like my own electorate of Capricornia, Red Cross blood banks offer a blood donation service, collecting blood for medical use. Red Cross also provides low-cost accommodation near major hospitals for country families and patients to stay in when visiting major cities for medical treatment.

Recently, I visited the Rockhampton Red Cross to help volunteers cut a birthday cake to recognise the Red Cross centenary. Today, I want to particularly commend the Rockhampton branch for the support they give to the elderly in our community. And I would like to talk directly to them. Recently I learnt more about your Telecross service, where vulnerable clients are phoned first thing in the morning to check that they are okay. I also learnt about your TeleCHAT service, where clients are phoned by Red Cross volunteers for an extended chat on a regular basis. I was touched to learn that, for some, this is the only outside interaction they receive. Having someone to talk to assists with their health and wellbeing. Then there is your Hands on Care program, where volunteers visit patients in hospital and provide beauty services, such as doing nails and giving hand and foot massages, to support those who are ill. There are many other things Rockhampton volunteers do as well, from providing accommodation services to street stalls, helping with floods and bushfires, and running the Red Cross thrift shop. These are extremely important services to our community. In this day and age, there are not many organisations that can say they have been doing this in Australia for 100 years.

To everyone who volunteers or supports Red Cross, I stand up to speak in federal parliament today to say a very simple 'thankyou'. Thank you for your tireless efforts to help others. Thank you for inspiring the power of humanity. It is people like you and organisations like Red Cross that make our communities, our nation and, indeed, our world a better place.