In conversation with Shelly Park

20 Nov 2019

A highly experienced CEO and board member, Shelly Park, shares insight into the rebranding of ‘The Australian Red Cross Blood Service’ and what this means for the wider community.

What is Lifeblood?

As of 15 November 2019 Lifeblood is the new name for The Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

For 90 years we have been the lifeblood of Australia thanks to our generous donors, volunteers, and our dedicated teams. We have been and will continue to be a critical supplier of world leading safe and secure blood and blood products to the Australian Healthcare community, but today our role goes beyond this, the name Lifeblood reflects our changing role.

How will it make a greater contribution to healthcare in Australia and why does that excite you?

Refreshing our name to that of Lifeblood is an important part of our strategic future. The future is about building on our strong foundations to increase our capabilities to meet – in partnerships with government and our customers – emerging challenges in healthcare and the blood sector, while continuing to build our capacity to deliver even greater value for money to government.

What a long and proud history we have, forged by our amazing people. Whilst blood and blood products will always be at the core of Lifeblood, we now provide safe, donated breastmilk to babies in newborn intensive care units across New South Wales and South Australia, and parts of Queensland. We provide critical organ matching and tissue typing services allowing life-giving transplants to take place, our research team are renowned for their work around the globe and next year in Western Australia we are embarking on a pilot to provide a reliable supply of donated stool for faecal microbiota transplants to treat patients with life-threatening digestive system infections.

As part of the name change, Lifeblood has opened our doors to take TV cameras behind the scenes for a new eight-part, reality television series on Chanel 9, this has been incredibly exciting. Giving Life shows for the first time the real, often moving, heart warming and always inspiring, stories of the people who give, receive, and make life possible across eight 30 minute episodes to explore the real life stories behind the generous people who donate, and the often vulnerable strangers who receive their life-saving gifts.

As we continue our work and look to the future, ensuring the highest safety of our blood, plasma, and blood products, as well as maintaining the highest quality standards in all areas including our tissue matching and transplantation work, remain integral to the way we operate. It’s incredible to think about all those Australians whose lives have been changed, and often saved, thanks to the blood given freely by our generous donors and the amazing work of our dedicated people to support the amazing work of clinical teams in the broader healthcare world.

What is its potential going forward in the future?

The name Lifeblood reflects the role we now play in Australia, but also the role we’ll continue to play into the future. We have come such a long way since our inception 90 years ago, when vein-to-vein transfers were the norm. The name Lifeblood also reflects our changing role – today we are a world leader in blood safety, and while blood is still at the core of what we do, we are now much more than blood. Going forward we will look to provide an even greater contribution to support the health of Australians and encapsulates our unwavering commitment to develop innovative services to support the healthcare needs of the Australian Community.

We are anticipating the evolution of precision medicine and specifically genomics in healthcare – we see that it is critical that we are well positioned to respond to genomics. We have recently developed a genomics roadmap which anticipates the impacts and sets the path for us to respond to provide enhanced services for our health customers and the recipients of our products. We will lead, and be part of the new and exciting treatments that are on the horizon whilst never taking our eye off ensuring the sustainability of Australia’s blood supply.

What role will Australian blood play internationally in the future?

Lifeblood is a respected international leader in the field of blood, blood research and voluntary plasma collection – many may not know that we are the largest collector of non remunerated plasma in the world. Our leaders at Lifeblood are world respected leaders – this will continue as we move forward. Our leadership internationally influences the Alliance of Blood Operators – a high performing international collaboration of blood operators from America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, the Asia Pacific Blood Network and the Council of Europe – all who are committed to ongoing performance improvement and efficiency, blood management stewardship, transfusion education, knowledge exchange and resolution of global strategic issues for the benefit of the patients and health systems.

What excites you about being CEO of Lifeblood?

It excites me to be leading an organisation with a purpose to be at the leading- edge and providing life-giving health outcomes to people. This is a time of great opportunity and innovation for Lifeblood as we continue to work to meet the ever-growing demand for plasma, and as we look to expand our contribution of human milk banking to help some of the most vulnerable in our community – premature babies who are most at risk of health complications and to further broaden our contribution through our next year in Western Australia we are embarking on a pilot to provide a reliable supply of donated stool for faecal microbiota transplants to treat patients with life-threatening digestive system infections

Lifeblood is an exciting new chapter in our history and I am so proud to be part of this – we hope our new name will appeal to the next generation of donors that Australia will rely on in the years ahead.

How will these changes impact positively on workforce?

The move to Lifeblood signals an important shift in how our people do the very important work that they do, and how they do it in a way more aligned with the voice and needs of contemporary Australia.

The voice of our people formed a key part in shaping our new brand. Importantly, this voice informed our underlying and new Leadership Principles, which were developed in conjunction with our new brand. Previously, we didn’t have a common language aligned with our purpose and strategic direction. Now our Leadership Principles clearly articulate how all of our people bring our Lifeblood to Australia.

I have no doubt that the rebrand is going to really galvanise our staff around our purpose.