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Speech to the launch of the Starlight Foundation Fun Trolley program



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Leader of the Opposition

11 September 1995

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SPEECH BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. JOHN HOWARD MP SPEECH TO THE LAUNCH OF THE STARLIGHT FOUNDATION FUN TROLLEY PROGRAM CAMPERDOWN CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, SYDNEY

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Thank you very much Dr Yu and to Mr Gordon Bobbin, the Chairman of the Australian Visual Software Distributors’ Association, and Mr Ian Kennedy, the Chairman of the Starlight Foundation of Australia and ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that nothing quite grips any of us more than the sight and the experience, witnessing the experience of a seriously ill child is

something that naturally grabs at the heartstrings of all people everywhere and I’d like to commence my remarks today by paying a particular tribute to the staff and the support groups of the Camperdown Children’s Hospital. As you all know, they’re moving in about five weeks to the marvellous new site at Westmead and to somebody who has lived all of his life in Sydney except for periodic visits to Canberra and a veiy brief period of time overseas in the 1960s, if ever anything has become part of the caring life of a city, this hospital has, and there are very few people who have

raised families in the city of Sydney, very few people who have lived for a long period in the city of Sydney whose lives have not been touched in some way by the marvellous service and the marvellous support, the marvellous caring and the marvellous feeling, and the marvellous medicine which has been carried on at this hospital, and I would certainly like I know on behalf of all of you to wish Dr Yu and his colleagues in their new, expanded, and I know state of the art abode at North Mead, Westmead, I’m sorry, the very, very best of good luck in the years ahead.

It’s quite a different, and a very special experience for me to launch the Fun Centre Trolley Program of the Starlight Foundation this morning. The Starlight Foundation is another expression of the great generosity and volunteer spirit of the Australian community. The concept of the Starlight Foundation did originate in the United

States but the Australian body is utterly separate, and it has been through the generosity of men and women in business and particularly the generosity of the video distributors of Australia that so many of their programs in the past and the program that I’m launching today has been made possible.

This program is in every sense a practical response to the needs of seriously ill children, that wonderful vision statement of the Starlight Foundation is to enrich the

Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRAk

lives of seriously ill children and their families. There are few objectives in charitable work in Australia and that are more noble and more deserving of support and the contribution that has been made not only by the video distributors but also by Australian workers and many other volunteer people, and I understand the Foundation around Australia numbers about 200 more or less regular volunteers, plus intermittent

support from many hundreds more people, and what these programs do and what I am sure the Fun Trolley program will do, even more than any others in the past, is to provide children with a haven of fun, to provide necessary aid to the caring work of the hospital, of the medical staff, the nurses and all others who work in the hospital to provide comfort and support to children during their illnesses. They will of course provide a great deal of support and peace of mind to the experiences of parents when their children are seriously ill, the strain on families at a time like that is at its absolute maximum and anything that makes a contribution towards providing relief and support to them is something that ought to be very, very warmly welcomed and very warmly applauded.

What to me is so marvellous about the whole Starlight Foundation effort is the way in which it brings to the hospital ward, in the case of the Trolley Program to the hospital bed the capacity and the opportunity for children to escape from the unpleasant experience of their illness, to find unending joy and happiness in the games that are

provided, and I’m reminded that as I say that that one of the core activities of the Starlight Foundation is the activity of wish fulfilment and we all know from our own respective childhoods that there is nothing quite so entrancing, there is nothing quite so important than the notion of wish fulfilment, and I know that in the time that it’s been in operation, something like 1500 specific wishes of seriously ill children have been granted, achieved by the Foundation and there are many in train at the moment. I think there’s, of all the stories one reads about caring for children, those wonderful

stories of particular wishes being granted to seriously ill children never fails, despite all the competition of other news, of other stories, of other events, and the blase approach so many people take to activities in the modem world, they never fail to touch all of us in a special way, and those are the activities of the Starlight Foundation. They are very human, caring, compassionate activities, and the people associated with the Foundation do deserve our thanks. They deserve our acknowledgments, and I’d particularly like in the presence of Mr Bobbin to thank him and all of his colleagues because it’s through the particular Starlight months that his member organisations sponsor which have provided the funds for this particular program.

Now, there are a lot of people in the commercial world who make a lot of money. Some people don’t make much money at all but only some of those who make a lot of money and are successful contribute some of that to help others, and there are many people who don’t make much money at all who are generous enough to contribute and it’s always been one of the distinguishing features of life in Australia, that we are a great volunteer society. We couldn’t exist without volunteers. You couldn’t run a

hospital without volunteers. You can’t run any local organisation without volunteers. You can’t mn a political movement, let me tell you, without volunteers, and you can’t run anything of worth in our community without volunteers. You need the core of professionals, the experts, who are the full time committed people but you need a vast phalanx of people around them providing support, and that is quintessentially the case

with the Children’s Hospital, and what the Starlight Foundation has done today is to expand its already strong network of fun activities, Starlight Fun Rooms, the new mobile trolley program which when it’s up and running I understand over a period of three years is going to provide something like 350 such trolleys in hospitals all around Australia, and the aim ultimately is to have a ratio of something like one per five beds which is extraordinarily ambitious but a remarkably generous goal to which the Foundation has committed itself, and it will be through the continued generosity of Mr Bobbin and many of his colleagues, and other people in the business community have to this activity as possible.

So can I say to all of you, and particularly for you, Dr Yu and to Mr Kennedy, the Chairman of the Foundation, and to Mr Bobbin, I appreciate very much, I regard it as a privilege to have been invited to come along today. This is a great institution, this

hospital. It will go to even greater strengths when it moves, and the contribution that has been made to providing joy and happiness and relief to thousands of children who unfortunately will be ill in the future and their families and their friends, is something to which the entire community is very grateful and I have very great pleasure in formally launching the program today. I wish it well. I hope it expands, and I know that it will provide that joy and laughter and happiness which is so precious to all of us but never more precious than to seriously ill children.

Thank you.