Qld jobs cut as charity scrambles to find millions

 

THE Australian Red Cross Society slashed jobs and heavily restructured its Queensland branch just weeks before it put its offices up for sale as it desperately tries to cut millions of dollars from its national budget.

The direction from head office to wield the axe comes after the charity's national Humanitarian Services arm lost $13.4 million, according to the chief financial officer's 2017/18 report lodged with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission.

The 2018/19 financial report has to be lodged.

Queensland Red Cross staff were notified of the need for cost-cutting measures, that eventuated in 14 redundancies, title and role changes, in a series of emails from state director Garry Page.

Following the series of emails in August and September, last week the Red Cross placed its Milton office - Humanity Place - on the market which it bought for $6.8 million in 2004.

The Australian red Cross is looking to make $8.6 million in budget savings nationally, of which $1.5 million will come from the Queensland branch. They put Humanity Place which they own, on the market last week. Picture: Google Maps
The Australian red Cross is looking to make $8.6 million in budget savings nationally, of which $1.5 million will come from the Queensland branch. They put Humanity Place which they own, on the market last week. Picture: Google Maps

The Queensland branch, which is solely Humanitarian Services, had to find $1.5 million in budget cuts alone out of the $8.6 million that was required to be made nationally.

" … The Board's approval of the FY20 Annual Plan and Budget explains the need for the organisation to "achieve $8.6m in overall organisation savings through streamlining management and support functions, standardisation and automation," he wrote to staff on August 20.

Mr Page announced a restructure in an email distributed to staff on September 11 and detailed the redundancies, 11 title and position description changes and six new roles.

"We are working with directly impacted people as they enter a redeployment period until 11 October 2019," Mr Page wrote.

"We have had to make some tough decisions that are in the broader interests of Red Cross."

Mr Page was unavailable for comment, however acting Queensland director Collin Sivalingum said the restructure and redundancies were in the best interests of the 105-year-old organisation.

He said it was the second time in two years they had conducted an extensive review to save money.

"We are constantly reviewing and (the last time in) Queensland would have been over a year ago when we would have looked at our strategy and if were fit for purpose," Mr Sivalingum.

While tough decision had to be made, the charity was not in troubled financial times.

"This does not mean Red Cross is not in a strong financial position because we are in a sound financial position," he said.

"It's a tough decision to make staff redundant … but we are in a good financial position.

"Salaries are your high cost … so as much as there are redundancies we are sharpening our pencils in terms of the communities' needs and the purpose of the organisation."

Max Cridland, from Indooroopilly, donated blood to the Red Cross, making him a ‘good egg’. The Blood Services division of the charity made more than $8 million profit during the 2017/18 financial year. Pic: Redliffe Herald
Max Cridland, from Indooroopilly, donated blood to the Red Cross, making him a ‘good egg’. The Blood Services division of the charity made more than $8 million profit during the 2017/18 financial year. Pic: Redliffe Herald

The Australian Red Cross also has a Blood Services division which is run independently from its Humanitarian Services branch which lost 13.4 million.

Blood Services made $8.776 million profit, according to the 2017/18 report, resulting in overall net deficit of $4.67 million for the Society.

In the previous financial year, the Red Cross made a $400,000 profit after Blood Services returned a $10 million surplus and the Humanitarian Services had a $9.6 million deficit.

Mr Sivalingum said he did not have the figures to confirm if public donations had increased or decreased over the past five years.

However, they were adjusting their fundraising initiatives and also being more accountable for every dollar.

"Generally across the board there is donor fatigue among all charities," he said.

"The deficit was planned as part of the forecast and we were very much aware of it.

"There's been a big push from our supporters who want better value for money."


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