Groundswel­l

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Ben­e­fits rang­ing from clin­i­cal-ser­vice ef­fi­cien­cies to emo­tional sup­port for pa­tients and fam­i­lies un­der­pinned a broad mes­sage at an of­fi­cial open­ing of the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar Wim­mera Can­cer Cen­tre.

Speak­ers at a Hor­sham gath­er­ing included med­i­cal spe­cial­ists and project lead­ers as well as can­cer sur­vivors and fig­ure­heads.

All had a sim­i­lar mes­sage – the cen­tre rep­re­sented a ma­jor med­i­cal-ser­vice break­through for the re­gion.

Guests, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness lead­ers and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, rubbed shoul­ders with project bene­fac­tors and volunteers who col­lec­tively played key roles in quickly turn­ing an idea into multi-mil­lion-dol­lar re­al­ity.

Wim­mera Health Care Group chief ex­ec­u­tive Catherine Mor­ley was emo­tional as she ac­knowl­edged the peo­ple who couldn’t at­tend the gath­er­ing.

“The apolo­gies I make are ac­knowl­edg­ments for the peo­ple who couldn’t be present to­day,” she said.

“They are our loved ones, our col­leagues, our fam­ily mem­bers, our day-to-day com­mu­nity mem­bers who have lived with can­cer, kid­ney disease and chronic disease and who have ac­cessed the ser­vices we of­fer in this fa­cil­ity.

“These peo­ple are the rea­son why in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions have dug so deeply into their pock­ets to as­sist us to build this amaz­ing space.

“Be­cause of the con­nec­tion to these peo­ple I think you can feel the heart of the build­ing. They are the peo­ple we need to ac­knowl­edge as our no­table apolo­gies.”

Wim­mera Health Care Group board chair Marie Aitken, who led pro­ceed­ings, said the project had been a story about life and liv­ing and work­ing to­gether.

“It’s a story about what mat­ters – liv­ing life

about the way we want to our lives,” she said. “In the Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee five peo­ple are di­ag­nosed with can­cer ev­ery week, 2240 peo­ple are liv­ing with can­cer and we have the high­est rate of bowel can­cer in the state.

“This build­ing be­gan as an idea, a dream and it quickly be­came a col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“It took off in a way that the board and the lead­er­ship team could have never an­tic­i­pated.”

Mrs Aitken said the project had been the re­sult of bi­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal state and fed­eral sup­port and im­por­tantly, pow­er­ful com­mu­nity back­ing.

“The com­mu­nity con­trib­uted an amaz­ing $1.8-mil­lion,” she said.

“Ev­ery donor, large or small, is re­ally im­por­tant. It has been an amaz­ing Wim­mera-wide project and our neigh­bour­ing health ser­vices have also con­trib­uted to the estab­lish­ment of this build­ing.”

Mrs Aitken also paid trib­ute to Hor­sham com­mu­nity advocate and in­au­gu­ral Wim­mera Health Care Group Foundation chair­man Don Johns and Baade Har­bour Aus­tralia ar­chi­tect Michael Har­bour who were both heav­ily in­volved and died from can­cer dur­ing the project.

“We wish Don Johns was here to­day to see the project come to light,” Mrs Aitken said.

“He was in­stru­men­tal through his work through the foundation to make it hap­pen.

“The story of this build­ing is about liv­ing well with can­cer, with re­nal dial­y­sis and dur­ing the fi­nal stages of our lives.

“It’s a story about what mat­ters to each and ev­ery one us.”

The health group foundation pro­vided $420,000 for the project and foundation chair­man Graeme Hard­man took the au­di­ence through a project ‘jour­ney’ from its in­cep­tion in 2013.

He also praised the work of Mr Johns as well as project am­bas­sador Rachael Lit­tori who be­came the face of the foundation’s Rachael’s Wish fund-rais­ing cam­paign.

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