A very special launch

16 January 2024 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is pleased to congratulate Very Special Kids on the launch of the new Sister Margaret Noone Hospice at Very Special Kids House in Malvern on Tuesday 21 November.

Very Special Kids provides holistic palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and tailored support for their families. Its integrated approach includes emotional, clinical and practical support to improve quality of life and create positive, lasting memories. As Victoria’s only children’s hospice, its services support more than 800 families across Victoria.

The VRC is proud to have contributed to the new facility, raising more than $1 million for Very Special Kids during the three years as Pin & Win charity partner for the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2019, 2020 and 2021.  

Aerial view of the state-of-the-art new facility for Very Special Kids.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said the club was privileged to support such a worthy organisation as its Pin & Win partner over three years.

“Pin & Win has raised nearly $8 million for our charity partners since it was introduced in 1995 and is a fantastic platform for charities to raise awareness and funds for community-focused endeavours,” Mr Wilson said.

“As the flagship fundraising initiative of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Pin & Win provides an outstanding opportunity to give back to the community, and we are very proud to have contributed to the world-leading facilities offered by Sister Margaret Noone Hospice at Very Special Kids House.”

The state-of-the-art new centre is designed as a bright home-away-from-home featuring spaces for music and art therapy, a wheelchair-accessible playground, a hydrotherapy pool, and a resident therapy dog called Jaffa.

Very Special Kids CEO Michael Wasley said the new facility will improve the quality of life for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses, and their families – through life, death, and bereavement.

“The clinical needs of children today are significantly more advanced than they were 25 years ago. Children are living longer with these conditions into adolescence, placing higher needs upon their families as full-time carers,” Mr Wasley said.

“The new Very Special Kids House is a world-class facility that will make a real difference in the lives of Victoria’s sickest children and their families when they need support most.

“It is a place of refuge and safety, but it wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the community.”

For 13-year-old Very Special Kids House user Charlotte Hall, the rebuilt facility will make an already great experience even better. “It gives me a holiday when I kind of need it,” she said. “It gives me a place to go and have fun without my siblings and where I can be myself. When I come back home, I say ‘Mum, when is my next time?’”

Sister Margaret Noone opened the first Very Special Kids House in 1996, after she met two families whose children had died from cancer. Together they founded Very Special Kids in the hope of providing the support they felt was lacking when the families’ children were going through the final stages of their illness.

Since then, thousands of children and young people and their families have been supported by Very Special Kids at its Malvern site. In 2021, the hospice was decommissioned to make way for the new facility, which was launched today after more than six years of planning and construction. The new facility provides world’s best practice facilities along with specialist respite and end-of-life care for children and their families.

“Children, young people and their families are at the heart of Very Special Kids and it has been heartwarming to see them back at Very Special Kids House. Our wonderful hospice team provide the upmost care to the children and their families and will continue to support many in the future,” Sister Margaret said.