Julie McCrossin
Julie McCrossin

The Australian Red Cross’ Doing It Tough appeal helped 20,000 lonely Australians in 2015.

Thousands of lonely Australians are at risk of serious illness or injury and need help during the winter. The Red Cross recently launched its annual Doing It Tough appeal to help combat the extreme loneliness many Australians face.

According to Australian Red Cross Chief Executive Officer Judy Slatyer, anyone of any age from all walks of life can experience loneliness. However, she notes that the poorest suffer the most, including homeless youth and families struggling to make ends meet.

“New data reveals that in 2015, we helped more than 20,000 Australians who were living alone. Our volunteers improve their lives and their health—calling lonely people every day to check they’re safe and OK,” Slatyer said.

Julie McCrossin is one of the Red Cross Ambassadors and is very passionate about supporting people in need. Known through her work as a lawyer, actor and broadcaster, Julie was asked to be an ambassador three years ago.

Julie has a long-standing passion helping the less fortunate over the years and noted that the Red Cross’ fundamental principles, impartiality, and presence in much of the world are major factors in her ongoing support.

A history of working with disadvantaged youth in regional NSW and older members of the community – as well as personal history – prepared Julie to help with the Doing It Tough Appeal.

Speaking to LOTL, Julie highlighted her struggle to come out in the 1970s, saying that the negative representation of homosexuality kept her from expressing how she felt. At the age of 18, Julie left home and went through a period of homelessness and loneliness.

Julie believes that many Australians are unaware of the programs the Red Cross runs domestically. She mentioned that there are multiple Red Cross programs, including Save-A-Mate, which would have been helpful to her during her struggle as a young adult. She also noted that the organisation’s secular standing and neutrality is extremely important in the work the Red Cross does.

The Doing It Tough Appeal focuses on both young and older demographics as well as people that are isolated during the winter months.

According to a review consisting of 148 studies, loneliness was revealed to be just as dangerous to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Other research has also shown that isolation and feelings of loneliness can impact overall health and wellbeing. This poses an increased risk of heart attacks, a depressed immune system, life-threatening cancers and depression.

Supporting the Doing It Tough Appeal ensures that elderly Australians receive daily phone calls to reduce loneliness and help them stay safe while living independently. Aussie kids also receive a healthy breakfast at school when they might have gone hungry.

During these divisive and tough times, Julie believes that the “enduring principles of the Red Cross are more important than ever.”

The Doing It Tough Appeal ends June 30, for more information click here.