Koala Kids executive director Mandy Mandie was recognised for her meritorious service and contribution to children’s cancer in Victoria in the 2021 Australia Day Honours. All involved with Koala Kids are thrilled for Mandy who greatly deserves this award acknowledging her commitment and dedication to making a difference to the lives of children and young people, their families and their healthcare team during cancer treatment.

Mandy, together with her son Nick, founded Koala Kids in 2005 and since then she has established a team of volunteers to manage the governance, fundraising, marketing, public relations, sponsorship, program delivery and administration of the Koala Kids Foundation. Mandy is selfless in her own commitment to volunteering and is an energetic and tireless leader who has inspired hundreds of people to volunteer for Koala Kids and provides mentoring to many young people interested in pursuing voluntary work.

In 2020 Mandy was determined to continue to provide happy moments to children and young people with cancer and adapted the Koala Kids program delivery model to offer activities and meals directly to 120 families in their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic when cancer patients were cut off from normal support services.  Mandy has nurtured meaningful relationships with our major beneficiaries including the Victorian Paediatric Cancer Service, a partnership between the three specialist paediatric cancer service providers; The Royal Children’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Mandy has extended Koala Kids reach into regional areas of Victoria and Tasmania to ensure the large percentage of children receiving their treatment in regional hospitals were not forgotten. Children and young people with cancer, their families and their healthcare teams now have access to Koala Kids services in nine regional hospitals in Albury Wodonga, Geelong, Frankston, Shepparton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon, Warrnambool and, Wangaratta plus the Austin Hospital (Olivia Newton John Centre), the Royal Women’s and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern and Eastern Health, and Ronald McDonald Houses in Parkville, North Fitzroy, Monash and Hobart.

Many of us have been lucky to witness Mandy’s infectious enthusiasm for Koala Kids and her contribution to children’s cancer support services and we believe if anyone can achieve our vision which is to touch every child and young person with cancer in Victoria it will be Amanda Mandie OAM.