Regional Victorian kids 2

Good Friday Appeal to expand to Victoria’s regional hospitals

The state’s littlest fighters are set to benefit from the generosity of Victorians as the Good Friday Appeal expands to provide funding for regional hospitals for the first time.

In a huge win for sick kids across Victoria, the Good Friday Appeal will provide funding via The Royal Children’s Hospital for regional health services for the first time.

The history-making announcement on Friday will mean even more of the state’s littlest fighters benefit from the generosity of Victorians.

The regional cash splash will ensure sick kids can be treated close to home, keep families together, reduce waiting times, and lead to better medical outcomes.

Regional Victorian Patients
Regional Victorian Patients

Last year, the Good Friday Appeal raised a record-breaking $23,061,320 for the RCH, including almost $4.6m from regional Victoria.

This year, $2.5m from the tally will be split among five regional health services in stage one of the Good Friday Appeal’s expansion.

The bulk of the funds raised will continue to support the Royal Children’s.

Premier Jacinta Allan and Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas will join Good Friday Appeal chairman Penny Fowler AM and executive director ­Rebecca Cowan for the announcement in Bendigo on Friday.

Five health services with pediatric services will receive funding via the RCH this year: Barwon Health, Grampians Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Latrobe ­Regional Health.

The Good Friday Appeal funding will be distributed to the regional health services via the Royal Children’s to bankroll lifesaving equipment, training and scholarships.

Mrs Fowler said the new regional fund would allow people in those communities to go to their own hospital and receive exceptional care.

“I think what’s fantastic about this announcement is we’re taking that world-class excellence from the children’s hospital out into our regional hospitals,” she said.

“For example, in 2023 we supported the purchase of a neonatal retinal scanning camera to be used at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“And in 2024, this same equipment will be purchased by one of our regional health services, where newborns and young babies can be treated ­locally. That’s a perfect example of why this is so fantastic and exciting, because new babies can go to the local hospital and then they don’t have to come in here.”

Ms Allan said the Royal Children’s Hospital means “something special to every Victorian”.

“Especially the families who’ve experienced its care first hand – this year’s Good Friday Appeal is extra special knowing it will also help regional kids get the care they need, closer to home.”

Royal Children’s Hospital chief executive Bernadette McDonald said she was delighted the Good Friday Appeal had chosen to share the funds with the hospital’s regional partners.

“It really is about making sure that families can access the care they need when they need it in the right place,” she said.

“So we still have a huge role to play as the specialist centre, but what we really want to do is work in close partnership with our colleagues across Victoria to ensure that if care can be provided there safely then what can we do to enhance that, and the GFA’s helping us to do that.”

Ms Cowan said better equipment and training for regional hospitals would increase their capability so that more children could be treated locally.

“We want to help as many children as possible and this is a way we feel we can create greater impact and support more kids,” she said.

“It’s all about reducing waiting times as well and also reducing the waitlist for getting into beds.”

Barwon Health women’s and children’s clinical director David Fuller said treating sick kids locally led to better medical outcomes.

“If you can provide that same high-quality care close to home, it’s much better on so many accounts,” he said.

“Particularly for seriously unwell newborn babies, we know that they do much worse if they need to be transferred in somewhere than if they’re born and are able to be looked after in the place where they can continue to receive their ongoing care.

“So it’s an impost on them physically and medically if they need to be transferred.”

Associate Professor Fuller said the regional funding boost would also mean families could stay together, sick kids would miss less school and parents would miss less work.

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said the funding would help increase the complexity of services on offer locally “so patients don’t have to travel to Melbourne to access high levels of care and treatment”. “It’s just a terrific initiative,” he said.

Ms Cowan said the new funding initiative recognised the enormous contribution made by regional supporters each year.

“They’re an enormous part of the Good Friday Appeal,” she said. “They’re just so committed and they get behind it every year, and for that money to be supporting the RCH and locally, it’s a really nice way to highlight their support.”

Ms Cowan said the appeal’s funding for the regions would evolve over time following a review of the impact of this year’s distribution.

Written by Jen Kelly
Photos by David Caird
Published in the Herald Sun 09/02/2024

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