Koala Kids launched into 2019 recently announcing Ali Dvorscek, 24-year-old biomedicine and science graduate as the 2018 Koala Kids volunteer of the year.

In front of more than 150 program partners, sponsors, major donors, hospital staff and volunteers, the fifth tertiary student to win the coveted award Ali said she was humbled to have had the opportunity to do something so special for children and young people and their families during cancer treatment, for nearly four years.

Ali was recognized for her enthusiastic and passionate commitment to leading Koala Kids volunteers that visit families in the Children’s Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital most Mondays.

The award was announced at the annual We Believe Happy Helps cocktail party by 2017 volunteer of the year, Jess Bucci. The annual event was held at ULR Landrover Malvern for the third consecutive year.

Guest speaker, Sarah Harms, a paediatric nurse of more than 37 years, explained different ways Koala Kids positively impacts children and their families, and staff, during cancer treatment.
“I don’t know what we did before Koala Kids – the small things like superhero costume and lucky dips mean that children actually look forward to returning to the hospital for treatment each day!”

Program Director, Mandy Mandie thanked Foundation partner Korjo Travel Goods as well as Jack Bongiorno, TIG FreightKay & BurtonQuat QuattaWebmentumCarman’s KitchenStarburst Sucks and others for their ongoing commitment to Koala Kids.

“The combined support of so many generous organisations enables us to continue to strive to achieve our vision – to touch every child and young person during cancer treatment in Victoria.”

Mandy thanked the more than 200 volunteers from all walks of life who make up Koala Kids.  From students like Abigail Brown, 14-year-old Lauriston student, who herself underwent treatment for Leukaemia as a little girl, to members of the regular Monday team which includes one octogenarian and another about to become one!

“We all share a similar passion and commitment to our mission to deliver happiness to the children and their families, and equally important, to the staff who work tirelessly to care for them.”

Mandy spoke about some of the exciting new programs and activities undertaken by Koala Kids over the past 12 months.

“One of the highlights has been being able to decorate and paint the masks worn by children having radiation on their heads and thoracic.  This makes the already special  Koala Kids Superhero program at Peter Mac even more enjoyed.”   There were images of five such masks on display.

The Foundation also launched Koala Kids Happy Day with this year’s face of the campaign, Astyn (pictured below) taking the microphone.

In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, which recognised happiness as a fundamental human goal. It’s a global celebration, adopted by all UN member states, people from 160 countries and supported by a partnership of like-minded organisations.

Mandy explained that “Because #webelievehappyhelps, Koala Kids is taking centre stage on Wednesday 20 March 2019, the International Day of Happiness.

Find out more about how your family, school or business can get involved in Koala Kids Happy Day here

Guests enjoyed delicious food donated by Treat Catering & Events and Calendar Cheese Company with beverages from Frog Hollow Estate and Picco Aperitivo.

Special thanks to ULR Jaguar Land Rover MalvernPurpose GroupSlide ProductionsThe Design DepotTiger CorpHeroKidzDi Simmons Linen HireNetwork TEN and photographers Prop and Pose CoDansk Photography and Conor Herbert.