Expect drought and fire: Red Cross Boss

CHARITABLE: Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer (right) warns that climate change is likely to make heatwaves worse.
CHARITABLE: Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer (right) warns that climate change is likely to make heatwaves worse.

Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer expects a busy fire season for 2020 in the New England, but says the silent natural disasters of drought and heatwave can actually be more dangerous.

And she said natural disasters are only going to get worse with climate change.

Ms Slatyer, who visited Glen Innes for the country zone 14 conference earlier this week, told the Examiner it can be the disasters that don't get media that can be the biggest killers.

"Heat waves are becoming the biggest challenge; I've probably just been through the coolest summer I'll see for the rest of my life," she said.

She agreed heat waves were a misnomer; with rising temperatures as a result of climate change, we should expect more of a heat ocean.

And Red Cross volunteers are often caught in the middle of it, providing evacuation centres and helping reconnect family after disasters like floods and fires.

She said their advice was that 2020 was likely to be a busy year for them.

On the other hand the Red Cross CEO commended the Glen Innes branch for helping fight the scourge of youth mental illness with its batyr program.

She was also very taken by recycled bags produced by students at the school for the occasion.

She asked members of the community struggling through tough times to join My Team Red Cross, a free mental welbeing app they produced.

Australia spends some $16 billion on disaster repair, which is expected to hit $39 billion by 2015, according to Red Cross analysis.

Half of that is the social cost - jobs lost, business closed and families separated.

"That's why we advocate very strongly on what we call disaster risk reduction," she said.

She said the best thing individuals can do is be prepared, even simply by making sure you know your neighbor's phone number.

If you're struggling with mental illness, you can call SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or many others.