Grant Opportunity

Australian Red Cross Society
St Andrews House, Level 3, 464 Kent Street
Sydney, NSW, 2000

Australian Red Cross Blood Service Milk Bank -

Australian Red Cross has been part of the community for over 100 years, supporting the needs of vulnerable people both in Australia and internationally. It was established by Royal Charter in 1914 as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the largest humanitarian organisation in the world. It is independent of government and guided by seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality. It has a unique auxiliary role to public authorities in the humanitarian field, not being auxiliary to Government in any other field such as the military etc.

Vision: Human dignity, peace, safety and wellbeing for all.

Mission: We support and empower people and communities in times of vulnerability. Our purpose is to reduce suffering across Australia and internationally through mobilising the power of humanity.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is a division of Australian Red Cross and is guided by the purpose of “Life-giving blood, plasma, transplantation and biological products for world-leading health outcomes”. The first Red Cross volunteer blood transfusion service was set up in Australia in 1929 and now engages almost half a million volunteer blood donors across Australia who give 14 million blood donations a year from 100 blood collection centres

Red Cross Strategy 2020 clearly identifies innovation as a major focus and driver, with a broad outlook for collaborative partners to bring to life innovative solutions to service gaps and ‘value adds’ to build positive life experiences for vulnerable people Aligned to Strategy 2020 goals, Red Cross provides a range of services including and not limited to:
– Preparing for and responding to disasters and other emergencies and building resilient communities
– The Blood Service
– Working with other vulnerable people and communities to address humanitarian concerns
– Supporting asylum seekers and refugees, persons affected by human trafficking and others impacted by migration
– Partnering with national societies in Asia/Pacific countries (and elsewhere) in humanitarian and development work, including preparing for and responding to disasters
– Partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities and organisations to support prosperous, safe and healthy futures

Guided by our mission to support people in times of vulnerability, our impact for our beneficiaries over the last financial year includes:
– Through the Blood Service, 460,817 Australians voluntarily donated blood, platelets and plasma
– Red Cross was there for 12,624 people in the immediate aftermath of an emergency and supported 35,963 people with their recovery
– We helped 213 families find out about or reconnect with missing loved ones all over the world
– We supported 5,102 asylum seekers to live safely in the community
– We made 964,924 phone calls to those living alone, made 40,000 visits to people in their homes and helped drive 6,490 people to 57,922 medical or social appointments

In September 2018, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) launched the Milk Bank with the aim of improving health outcomes for vulnerable premature babies through the collection and distribution of pasteurised donor human milk.

  • Total Requested Amount
  • Total Raised From Donors
  • Remaining Goal

Project Details

Postcode where activity will take place: 2015

Start Date: 02/01/2019

End Date: 02/01/2020

Target Population:

  • Age Groups > Children (0-5)
  • Health > People with diseases and illnesses

Field of Interest:

  • Health > Healthcare access
  • Human services > Family services

Project Summary:

In September 2018, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) launched the Milk Bank with the aim of improving health outcomes for vulnerable premature babies through the collection and distribution of pasteurised donor human milk (PDHM). The long term aim for the Milk Bank is to supply PDHM to infants in neonatal intensive care units across Australia. Over a 3-year period 2018-2020, the ARCBS Milk Bank aims to make PDHM available to all infants born <32 weeks gestation in hospital neonatal intensive care units across Australia who do not currently have access to PDHM.

The Blood Service has committed to establish the foundation of a centralised Milk Bank with a vision to ensure that no matter what corner of Australia or hospital a premature baby is born; they will have access to donor milk “on demand” when they need it most. In 2017, over 1.2 million blood and plasma donations were made by generous donors across the country with the potential to save over 3 million lives through the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Our plan is to match this lifesaving work and provide a national Milk Bank service, with the potential to save the lives of the most vulnerable babies in Australia.

The processes used for the collection, processing and distribution of human milk are similar to those used for blood banking. We are ideally positioned to fill this gap in the Milk Banking sector to provide significant health and economic benefits by leveraging it’s the Blood Service’s core competencies and capabilities.

1. Collect: The Milk Bank will screen donors and collect breast milk donations with similar high quality processes that the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is known for. Following lactation, the milk is cooled and stored in a freezer at -18°C
2. Process: The milk is processed using the Holder Pasteurisation method. Milk is tested for harmful bacteria, before and after pasteurising the milk. Once prepared it is cooled to -18°C and stored to be used within three months
3. Distribute: Donor milk remains frozen during transportation and, when needed, is thawed for use at the destination hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Funding provided by Australian Communities Foundation will allow the Milk Bank to source two (2) new scientific grade freezers based at our processing facility in Alexandria, Sydney. Since the initial launch of the Milk Bank, we have received higher than anticipated demand and need to invest in new equipment to boost capacity and reach as many premature babies as possible. These freezers will enable the Milk Bank to collect and store PDHM to meet this growing demand and boost capacity of the service. Each freezer has a capacity to hold an additional 120 litres of PDHM at two critical stages of processing, thus rapidly boosting the capacity of the Milk Bank to collect and process more milk.

Project Outcomes:

Research has demonstrated the health benefits of human milk compared to infant formula for infants <32 weeks’ gestation and/or <1500g in terms of a reduction in necrotising enterocolitis (a serious inflammatory gut disease that is the leading cause of neonatal mortality in neonatal intensive care units) and improved feed tolerance. In 2010, the estimated annual hospital costs of surgery for gut disease in premature babies was $26 million.

By reducing the rates of necrotising enterocolitis amongst these babies, further benefits will be demonstrated, such as:
• Reduced health service costs,
• Reduced lengths of hospitalisation
• Reduced need for intervention
• Reduced long term morbidities, and
• Improved breastfeeding rates among mothers within neonatal intensive care units

To realise these goals, in the next year the Red Cross aims to have:
• Over 1,000 premature babies provided pasteurised donor human milk while in intensive care
• An exclusive human breast milk diet for premature babies <32 weeks’ gestation or 1,500 grams birthweight
• The Milk Bank operation will continue to expand and ensure that all premature babies across Australia have access to a save and reliable supply of pasteurised donor human milk.

Funding from Australian Communities Foundation will enable the Milk Bank to purchase two new freezers to store donor milk and distribute to babies in need. Direct outcomes of these freezers include:
• Improved capacity of Milk Bank to meet demand
• Ability to store an additional 120 litres of PDHM at two critical stages of processing, thus rapidly boosting the capacity of the Milk Bank to collect and process more milk

Budget Details

Total Budget: $25,000


Income item Price ($)
Australian Communities Foundation 25,000


Expense item Price ($)
2x Thermofisher Scientific -30ºC Freezer (TSX 1447L HP Freezer) 25,000

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