“I do have a nickname at the Red Cross. It’s ‘Scrounger’, thanks to the boss,” laughs Red Cross volunteer Jodi Malane. “If something was needed, I’d find the resources, or find out if I could help with it.
“I must admit I tend to think outside the box, so I could get myself into mischief at times.”
The Gold Coast, QLD’s local’s resourcefulness and humour have stood her in good stead this year, as she has had emergencies of her own to cope with.
After a lifetime of severe health issues stemming from a brain tumour as a youngster, Jodi suffered a stroke on Anzac Day, leaving her with almost no movement whatsoever on her left side.
“That was a huge shock to the system. I’ve been fighting my way back since then,” she says.
Thanks to rehab, she’s walking again, having not been able to move her thumb when she was first in hospital. She’s also back to driving and, with the use of a mobility scooter, is mostly able to get around the challenges of her condition.
The stroke came after the news that her brain tumour had returned. As the tumour is not operable, she has decided to “not worry and just get on with it”. And, despite being forced to give up work in 2012 because of her health, she remains as positive as always.
“My view is there are always people worse off than me. There’s always got to be a reason to smile,” she says.
Her commitment to the Red Cross began in 2004. As she watched the devastation wrought by the Boxing Day tsunami, she was struck by a sense of wanting to return the help she had received many years before, when, in 1974, her family home in Darwin was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. Her family was assisted by the Red Cross and, to this day, she still has a blanket that was given to her by organisation then. As she wantched the news, she felt compelled to do what she could to help them.
“Seeing it was so hopeless and so terribly devastating. I thought to myself, really, what can I do or where can I go to help?”
She walked into her closest Red Cross office and was confronted by “total chaos” as donations flooded in and a seasonal skeleton staff buckled under the pressure. After “putting a bit of management onto it”, the team didn’t let Jodi go.
Fourteen years on, she has volunteered in whatever role the organisation has thrown her way and has occasionally taken on staff roles. In her Red Cross career, she has worked on projects involving rehousing “really traumatised” migrants and in the organisation’s accommodation centres. In the many emergencies that have unfolded since she began assisting, she has volunteered in scores of disasters from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, regularly leaving her home to stay close to emergency operation centres. When Miami Beach was badly flood-affected, she gave bags of her clothes to those left with nothing - and laughs as she remembers seeing people walking around in her clothes for “about a week afterwards”.
Many of the people Jodi assists through the organisation are those who could receive help for their situation, but simply don’t know how to seek it out, so “just accept what they’ve got.”
The best way that she knows to help in those cases is to just be there and listen.
“I think that comes a lot from the experiences that I’ve had,” she says. “Knowing how to listen is important.”