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After a brief hiatus following 25 years of caring for thousands of seriously ill kids, the newly rebuilt Very Special Kids House will have its grand opening on the 21st of November, marking a new era of world-class holistic palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses.

The grand opening coincides with Very Special Kids’ annual matched giving day fundraiser – A Very Special Day – which sees every donation made by the public being doubled by generous supporters of Very Special Kids.

After more than six years of planning and construction, the new Sister Margaret Noone Hospice at Very Special Kids House provides world’s best practice facilities and specialist respite and end-of-life care for children and their families.

Although a paediatric palliative care facility, 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.

It is the only facility of its calibre in Australia and the only children’s hospice in Victoria.

Sister Margaret Noone became the first employee of Very Special Kids in 1985, 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 dying. Sister Margaret opened the first Very Special Kids House in 1996.Since then, thousands of children and young people and their families have been supported by Very Special Kids at its Glenferrie Rd, Malvern site. In 2021, the hospice was decommissioned to make way for the new facility.

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?’”.

“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.

On November 21, for 24 hours only, all donations to Very Special Kids will be doubled. Donate via the Very Special Kids website .