Each year more than 50 Queensland families suffer the heartbreak of losing a child through terminal illness. Queensland does not have a specialised respite facility for families caring for a dying child or a place where they can be together while their child receives end-of-life care.
QUT Executive MBA graduate Paul Quilliam is using the business skills and networks he acquired during the course to build Queensland’s only children’s hospice close to the new Queensland Children’s Hospital that is due to open in 2014 in South Brisbane.
“I wanted to apply everything I had learnt during the two years of the EMBA and contribute something back to Queensland communities,” Mr Quilliam said.
“My wife and I have fostered children with complex, high-care needs over the past five years and we know how difficult it is to find respite services with adequate medical care for these children.
“When a child has a terminal illness, the parents often become 24/7 carers. This adversely affects everyone in the family, especially siblings who can feel isolated when their parents focus so much time, energy and finances on the sick child.
“Hummingbird House will give these families the specialised medical, emotional and respite support they desperately need.”
After two years of solid work, Mr Quilliam is well on the way to establishing a dedicated 10-bed children’s hospice with accommodation for three families. He envisages a “home away from home” for children with terminal illness and their families.
With help and financial support from his QUT classmates and lecturers, he has established the charity Queensland Kids to raise Hummingbird House’s $3 million annual operating costs.
“Queensland Kids believes in enhancing the quality of whatever time a child may have left by empowering them to live fully and joyfully,” Mr Quilliam said.
“We have also secured the pro bono services of Global Philanthropic to raise money for the full cost of construction; we are currently evaluating and negotiating some suitable land options. We also have some significant pledges of construction and trade materials.”
Queensland Kids has also canvassed enough support to subsidise the travel costs of families with terminally ill children to Sydney’s children’s hospice, and recently submitted recommendations to the State Parliamentary Inquiry into Palliative Care.
“The EMBA program let me build tremendous life-long relationships with other senior executives from many sectors. It is this amazing business network that has helped me establish Queensland Kids.”
The QUT Graduate School of Business & Queensland Kids will hold on 10 October 2013 where Paul Quilliam will tell his inspirational story. For more information visit here.