House debates

Thursday, 24 October 2019



4:34 pm

Photo of Celia HammondCelia Hammond (Curtin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This weekend is a very important and special weekend for Western Australians, and my fellow Western Australians in the chamber will well know that. It's our annual Telethon appeal, run by Channel 7. It was established in 1968, by philanthropist Sir James Cruthers and Brian Treasure, so those of my generation have grown up with Telethon. In the days when TVs shut down of an evening, with a 'test pattern', Telethon, running live throughout the night on one weekend a year, was an incredible treat—the anticipation of seeing which celebrities might attend, how much money would be raised, and how often the annoying but somewhat catchy tune 'Thank you very much for your kind donation' would be sung! I remember with great fondness the year in which the tally kicked over to $1 million for the very first time. We, in Western Australia, were so proud.

Telethon was created by and belongs to the community of Western Australia who, over five decades, have generously donated more than $306 million to ensure a better life for our children, both now and in the future. The two major beneficiaries of Telethon are the Perth Children's Hospital and the Telethon Kids Institute, both of which are in Curtin. The Telethon Kids Institute, based at the Perth Children's Hospital, is one of the largest and most successful medical research institutes in Australia, and there is no doubt that the money raised through Telethon has played a significant role in enabling this institute to be a world-class facility.

Earlier this year, I attended the official opening of the Telethon Kids Discovery Centre, based in the hospital. It's a fantastic new interactive hands-on space and is designed to give kids who are visiting the hospital the opportunity to engage with and learn about science and health research. At that event, I also had the opportunity to chat with the former member for Curtin, the Hon. Julie Bishop, who is the newly appointed chair of the Telethon Kids Institute. The institute is in very good hands, with Julie at the helm, Professor Fiona Wood AC as patron, and Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM as the director.

The Telethon event normally runs for about 26 hours nonstop, and the event aims to raise money for its beneficiaries from donations from private citizens and corporations, as well as special fundraising events held throughout the year. Each year there are also two children who have been chosen to represent all children who will benefit from the money raised. From 2010, these two children have been referred to as 'the Little Telethon Stars'. This year, the Little Telethon Stars are Callum Berrisford and Eva Molloy. Callum was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, at the age of seven months. Eva, who is now eight, was born with spina bifida that affects her mobility and means she is unable to walk. Callum and Eva and their families face incredible challenges that are beyond the contemplation of many of us, but the way in which they do it—the way in which they live life to the full, with resilience and hope and with joy—are inspiring, and a salient reminder to all of us who don't face such challenges to focus on what's important, to not sweat the small stuff and to live our lives to the full. Callum, Eva and their families are the epitome of what Telethon is all about. It's about tackling things head-on and never losing confidence in the ingenuity and ability of our Australian researchers to find solutions to the most challenging issues of our times.

Given the generosity of those in the west, and particularly in the electorate of Curtin, it is not surprising that our Western Australian Telethon is the highest donating telethon per capita in the world, with it surpassing $100 million in total donations in 2010, $200 million in 2015 and $300 million last year. Last year alone, there was a record-breaking $38 million raised. The money raised has helped make significant advances in treating some of the life-threatening diseases our children face today. Telethon also provides equipment, resources and critical services for children across WA.

I would like to congratulate and thank everyone involved with Telethon, especially those who make donations, for your fantastic contributions, changing the lives of children across our state. Indeed, it has impact not only across our state but also, because the research has wider implications, across the nation and across the world. I encourage everyone to dig deep this weekend and make sure we have another record-breaking Telethon.