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Red Cross bled $5 million

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One of the world’s most widely recognised and respected medical charities has had its funding slashed by the Federal Government.

The Red Cross, which runs blood collection services and provides humanitarian and medical care and disaster relief, has been caught short after the Abbott Government revealed it will cease paying the annual $5 million General Purpose Grant first introduced by the Howard Government in 2006.

Health Minister Peter Dutton notified the charity the Government would no longer pay the grant, which was continued by the Rudd and Gillard governments.

A spokesman for the Minister told The Age that, while the Government was “extremely grateful” for the work the Red Cross undertook, it was “not strongly related to the health portfolio”.

Australian Red Cross Chief Executive Robert Tickner told The Age the surprise decision was “especially hurtful” given looming celebrations to mark the organisation’s first 100 years of service in the country.

The former Labor Minister said the move would leave a “significant but limited” hole in the charity’s budget.

“It will inevitably have a significant, but limited, impact on services, programs and support functions, and on staff and volunteers in specific areas,” Mr Tickner told The Age.

In its newsletter to members in mid-2012, the Red Cross said the grant “makes a critical contribution to our work across Australia, allowing Red Cross to continue delivering humanitarian relief and community support services”.

Adrian Rollins