Kevin Burgemeestre for KOALA Kids Bookclub!

“Visiting children who are ill always makes you feel humble. Working with them and being able to make them smile or have them become engaged in a story or activity is doubly rewarding. They are such great kids to hang out with. Meeting their families who have so much to think about and to do is confronting, and in spite of this their warmth and welcome is always surprising. Hospital staff and educators are peerless, focused and deeply caring, it’s terrific to see humans so connected. Thanks for the opportunity.” Kevin Burgemeestre, Children’s Author & Illustrator

Kevin Burgemeestre was KOALA Kids guest author for the month of October.

Kevin is an award winning writer and illustrator with over sixty books to his credit. Kevin brought to the CCCs two pieces of unique artwork made for his book ‘B is for Bravo’ which teaches the phonetic alphabet for aviation. These artworks are handmade dioramas using recycled materials that Kevin found in rubbish bins and lying around the place. They were so detailed and looked so real; they were fascinating. It took Kev three years to create this amazing artwork!kkk2

Kevin then read The Old Woman and the Pig. Read with terrific speed and comedic time, the children loved the hilarious ending before engaging in a creative activity where they tore holes in paper to create eyes and then drew expressive faces. They also made tongues! Kev then made some hats with puppy ears and scary looking masks using Posca pens.


KOALA Kids thanks Kevin for coming in. It was a highly entertaining book club.

KOALA Kids also thanks Judith O’Brien from Mortlake and Janet MacDonald from Warrnambool for their generous donations of Posca Pens to Monash Children’s Cancer Centres. They are awesome and will be enjoyed by all of the children who use them for many book clubs to come.


The only risk of infection during Kevin Burgemeestre’s book club appearance was his whacky personality and wonderful sense of humor. Images from KOALA Kids book club at the Children’s Cancer Centres at Monash Children’s and The Royal Children’s Hospital during October.


kk2A huge thank you to KOALA Kids for providing yummy treats and amazing goodie bags to support the launch of our Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Clinic.

The launch night was the first opportunity for patients and families to come along and get a feel for how the clinics will run and to unveil our new adolescent space.

Thank you also for the wonderful DVD and magazine contributions to the AYA room. KOALA Kids support and contributions helped us provide a fun, relaxing and inviting environment for our patients. This night was the first of our six month pilot program to trial these AYA specific clinics so we are very excited for the ones to come!

AYAs making the walls in their space their own
AYAs making the walls in their space their own

A message from the program director, Mandy Mandie

What fills KOALA Kids hearts with joy is when we meet families in the Children’s Cancer Centres and they explain first hand how much they love the small things that KOALA Kids provides their families.

See the Summer newsletter on Facebook filled with so many activities and news from the program.

Read about KOALA Kids exciting new partnership with Gracies Gift Foundation and the shoebox of fun program, an initiative of young mother, Nikki Ford in her quest to provide things for kids to do to fight the boredom of long hospital stays.

Enjoy reading too about the amazing efforts of some of KOALA Kids ambassadors at Melbourne’s primary and secondary state and independent schools late last year and see the round-up of the regular events and volunteer activities at each of the Children’s Cancer Centres.

During December and January holidays, families enjoyed a fabulous session of  iillusions and magic with internationally acclaimed Michael Boyd.  Neridah McMullin, KOALA Kids volunteer book club coordinator and herself an author, read a special selection of Christmas stories to the children at each facility and then engaged them in some fun Christmas craft activities.

Mandy at our 2014 Halloween Lunch introducing Alisha Griffiths who spoke of family's cancer journey since her 4 year old son Teddy was diagnosed with Leukaemia in September 2013.
Mandy at our 2014 Halloween Lunch introducing Alisha Griffiths who spoke of family’s cancer journey since her 4 year old son Teddy was diagnosed with Leukaemia in September 2013.

KOALA Kids is supporting Monash’s trialling an adolescent and young adult clinic and I received a warm reception from the teenagers who attended the December clinic, keen to learn about KOALA Kids and how we can work together to source small things for their dedicated space. I spoke about about the range of programs available to the adolescents and young adults during cancer treatment.

Families at Monash enjoyed KOALA Kids artist in residence program with program partner The Art Cabriolet. The program will continue to give children, adolescents and their parents and carers the opportunity to express themselves with a paint brush.

And if that wasn’t enough, hundreds of kids, siblings, parents, grandparents, carers and other visitors to the Children’s Cancer Centres enjoyed the annual KOALA Kids Christmas lucky dip, rockin’ xmas hats and reindeer headbands every visit. We provided Christmas tins filled with Hershey’s chocolates, Christmas panetones (donated by our friends at Clayton Road Deli, Clayton), Five Mile Press and Hinkler Books’ Christmas activity, sticker and colouring books, chatting santas, flashing necklaces, rings and bracelets and so much more.

KOALA Kids believes that if children and adolescents have to undergo treatment during the holidays, and siblings have to spend long hours waiting while they do, then everyone deserves as many Christmas treats as KOALA Kids is able to provide.

Similarly in January, when the temperature was on the rise outside, the kids and their families stayed cool with more fun school holiday activities, Australia Day lamingtons, finger puppets, Aussie flag tattoos, masks, silly bow ties and stickers plus lots of games, activity and Aussie holiday colouring books to pass the time.

KOALA Kids hopes that all of our friends, the families and personnel in the Children’s Cancer Centres and at Peter Mac, our generous partners, donors and enthusiastic, committed and wonderful volunteers enjoyed peaceful and festive holidays and all the best for the new year.

Mandy Mandie

Program Director

Gracie’s Gift Foundation: Shoeboxes Full of Fun!

KOALA Kids is very excited to announce that it is partnering to bring shoeboxes full of fun to children with cancer in the Kookaburra ward (and the other wards) every time they are admitted.

Today little Gracie, her mum Nikki and CCC’s Merridy together with KOALA Kids volunteer Grace Kerr, distributed the first delivery of shoeboxes full of brand new items thoughtfully and generously donated by the families in Gracie‘s prep class at Mentone Primary School. gracie's gift

Gracie was diagnosed with Leukaemia in July and although responding well to treatment has to still undergo intense treatment for the first 6-12 months and then remission and maintenance for another 2 years.  Says Nikki, “Gracie is a very strong and brave little girl and she loves to have fun and likes to keep busy!”

The shoebox of fun was Nikki’s idea after Gracie had been admitted several times, and depending on the time of day and the day of the week, was spending hours and hours with nothing to do.  Due to understandably strict hygiene regulations, Nikky found that unless she bought enough of Gracie’s  own toys and activities from home, they were spending hours frustrated and anxious looking for games to play and activities to keep Gracie distracted and occupied. 

There are separate shoeboxes for girls and boys and each box is sealed and filled with a selection of new toys, dolls, games, colouring, stickers, activities, books.

KOALA Kids volunteer Ashleigh Pyke, herself a first time mum of a little girl, met Nicky at Mentone Primary last week and filled her car to the roof with the gorgeous colourful boxes, each bearing their own special message from a prep student to a child in hospital having treatment. The boxes are being stored at KOALA Kids donated offices at Korjo and then each Monday, another KOALA Kids volunteer, Grace Kerr will take enough boxes into the Kookaburra ward for each young child on the ward to be given one.

For more information about Gracies Gift Foundation, the shoebox program and how your school can participate contact or