Children's Cancer Research Centre Telethon

About this Item
SpeakersMills Mr John; Face Mr Jack
BusinessPrivate Members Statements


Mr MILLS (Wallsend) [6.05 p.m.]: I wish to bring to the attention of the House NBN Television’s telethon 1997, which will be held in the Hunter and the rest of the Hunter catchment region from Friday, 19 December, to Saturday, 20 December. This year’s telethon will raise funds for the NBN children’s cancer research centre, which is to be established on the campus of the John Hunter Hospital, located in the Wallsend electorate. The cancer research centre telethon has a $2 million target, of which $1 million will buy 750 square metres of space at John Hunter Hospital. At present the space is occupied by the pathology laboratories of the Hunter Area Pathology Service. Money for planning for a new building for the Hunter Area Pathology Service has been included by the Minister for Health in this year’s budget, and it is hoped that a pathology building worth about $15 million will be open on the John Hunter campus by 2000. When the pathology services moves from its present premises at the John Hunter Hospital, the hope is to establish medical research institutes in the vacated space and, as part of that, the NBN children’s cancer research centre.

Of the remainder of the target, $0.5 million will be spent on support services for a paediatric oncologist, including telemedicine services, and the remaining $0.5 million funding will attract a major researcher who will head the children’s cancer research centre and hopefully will also become research director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute. In addition to the planning for a new pathology building this year’s health budget contains enhancement funding from the State Government for the position of a paediatric oncologist at John Hunter Hospital. I compliment the board of NBN Television and its general manager, Denis Ledbury, on their generosity in raising funds for the benefit of the people of the Hunter and New South Wales as a whole.

Previous health-related telethons that I can recall have provided funds for the breast cancer unit, the hospice and the palliative care unit at the Mater hospital, and for the Life Education Centre based at Edgeworth. Not only has NBN Television been generous in its work, attracting stars and entertainment to assist in the fundraising effort, but the people of the Hunter have also demonstrated their generosity. Another organisation that has been a beneficiary of these funds is the Westpac rescue helicopter service, another health-related organisation, so the theme continues. The people of the Hunter have responded with enormous generosity in supporting the telethons, as have the businesses and general communities. It has been difficult to raise funds for other causes in the past nine months or so in the Hunter because of the huge community support for the telethon. The telethon will be broadcast from the NBN studios in downtown Newcastle and also from the John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

I advise the House that at 6.30 p.m. on Sunday, 30 November, in association with the telethon, there will be a premiere of a special
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documentary called A Day at a Time, based on six special children from our region. The documentary follows the lives of three boys and three girls as they battle cancer and go about a life that offers no certainties. The documentary has been shot over the past eight months by the NBN news team, written and produced by journalist Jodi McKay, and it launches the countdown to the telethon. The children concerned include 13-year-old Joshua Brown from Edgeworth, who is about to finish treatment for a brain tumour; Halley Tull of Stroud, who is an inspiration to all who meet her, and was diagnosed with a Wilms’s tumour. I remind the House that the honourable member for Maitland, in whose electorate Halley lives, brought her into the Parliament and introduced her to members. Hunter members donned caps to emphasise the importance of these fundraising programs in the fight against cancer in children.

Joshua Niland lives in East Maitland and lost the use of his arm after a problem with chemotherapy. Sarah Turner of Charlestown is three years old and has a Wilms tumour. Ten-year-old Jamie Perkins of Woodville and Megan Jones of Lambton have followed a similar path since they were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when they were two years old. They are all being treated at John Hunter Hospital. At this stage the early diagnosis is carried out with the child travelling back and forth to Sydney. After the telethon it is hoped that a paediatric oncology department will be available in Newcastle, so I urge all members to support the NBN telethon.

Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [6.10 p.m.]: I thank the honourable member for bringing this important matter to the notice of the Parliament. NBN Television has conducted numerous telethons over the years and this one likewise has received generous community and business sector support. It is to be held on 19 and 20 December and it is hoped that the spirit of Christmas, peace on earth and goodwill towards fellow persons will encourage people to contribute as generously as they have in the past. People in the Hunter are well known for supporting worthy causes, be they in the form of telethons or during times of disaster.

On a per head of population basis the Hunter has the largest return for telethons held in Australia. Also, it has committed the most funds for a telethon than any other throughout Australia. Only a small percentage of people do not honour their commitment. I have participated in many telethons over the years and I compliment Jodi McKay on her professional effort in the television feature to be screened on the weekend. All honourable members would remember the face of the telethon - young Halley Tull, whom I have met on several occasions. This telethon is receiving bipartisan support, and that is a credit. I wish it well.