Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Very Special Cause for Very Special Kids

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson has today launched the fundraising drive for Very Special Kids and announced up to $600,000 from the Howard Government for an Online Family Support Project.

Very Special Kids offers a vital service to more than 750 families caring for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Senator Patterson said their annual Piggy Bank Appeal, which will run throughout September, would help raise valuable funds.

“It’s hard to imagine just how emotionally stressful it is for the many families learning to care for a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness like muscular dystrophy, cancer and rare neuro-degenerative diseases.

“Nationally, it is estimated there are about 4,000 families with children who have life-threatening illnesses. This online facility will allow Very Special Kids to improve on and compliment the support they currently provide to Victorian families and enable other families throughout Australia to access their experience and resources.

“The service will provide specialist and experienced support to family members; information for schools, employers and friends; supervised discussion groups and build community awareness.

“The Howard Government is committed to helping Australian children and funding for the online service will be made available under the Howard Government’s Early Childhood – Invest to Grow initiative of the $490 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

“For 20 years Very Special Kids has been improving the quality of life for Victorian families of children with life-threatening illnesses and the money raised from this annual appeal will help it to continue to provide these essential services including the Very Special Kids’ House – a hospice for children.

“It’s estimated that around $1.3 million is needed each year to keep the hospice operating, and it’s hoped more than a million dollars will be raised through this year’s appeal to help fund the House and other services.

“This year’s Treasure Hunt Piggy Bank Appeal will see five big, friendly pirate pigs hunting for treasure around Victoria and I encourage everyone to dig deep for such a worthwhile cause,” Senator Patterson said.