An exciting new era was born in 1996 as we became a national service

In the 1990s Jim Carlton became the secretary-general of the Red Cross, taking on responsibility for state and territory Lifeblood. Carlton saw that the Red Cross carried the liability for one of the most medically complicated pharmaceutical operations in Australia. While a state-based structure had worked well in the past, the different management styles meant that the Red Cross carried legal responsibility, yet no formal control.

Carlton engaged consultants Bernie McKay and Ron Wells who produced the landmark McKay Wells report, which set in motion many important reforms for the Australian blood sector.

We updated our administration processes nationwide, to allow for greater reporting, efficiency and governance and implement new regulations from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

In 1996 we became a national service. This historic decision was a major step forward in improving our Lifeblood which was already one the best in the world.
The Australian Red Cross 1995–96 annual report declared:

“The decision … to bring the eight State and Territory Blood Banks into [a] … national organisation is perhaps the most significant … development in the Society since its formation in 1914.”


  • An exciting new era was born in 1996 as we became a national service
  • Combining forces was a major step to improve our Lifeblood, which was already one of the best in the world
  • Given the biological products we collected were used in pharmaceuticals, a new set of regulations needed to be implemented from the Therapeutic Goods Administration