ImageA party of Rotarians, Southern Highland Wines management and others who have been involved in raising funds visited the Children's Cancer Institute Australia in Sydney to donate to them some cheques which totalled $8,350. The major portion of this was from Southern Highlands Wines from their Italian Festival and Dinner weekend in February in association with Luciano Liberale.

The President of the Rotary Club of Bowral-Mittagong, Ian Langford passed over a cheque for $1,000 to Jana Perrino of the Children's Cancer Institute Australia.

The Children's Cancer Institute Australia is now located in the Lowy Cancer Research Centre which has been its official new home since May 2010.

We were officially welcomed by Chris Thomson, the Managing Director of the Institute and then passed over to Jana and some very qualified and knowledgeable guides to show us around the facility. The introduction to the facts about childhood cancers was very moving and of course very emotional for Robyn and Luciano Liberale who had spent so much time in the area in the nearby children’s hospital when their son Antony succumbed to cancer. The Liberale name was prominently displayed on the “honours” board due to Louie’s award in 2008 for the great support he and Robyn have given over the years.

Every year in Australia more than 600 children are diagnosed with cancer and on average, three Australian children die from cancer every week. Cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in Australia.

Prior to the 1960s, childhood cancer was almost always fatal but today, in Australia, survival rates are about 75 per cent across all types of childhood cancer. Some childhood cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, now have a survival rate of better than 80 per cent but other cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia have a much lower survival rate.

The most common childhood cancers are acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, brain cancer and neuroblastoma. Childhood cancer does not discriminate; it can affect any child from any socioeconomic or cultural background and it can develop as early as when the child is in the womb, right up through the teenage years

The solution is in making advances in knowledge and treatment found through medical research which have delivered the improved survival rates we see today. Only medical research will give hope to the three out of every 10 Australian children diagnosed with cancer, and the tens of thousands diagnosed with cancer around the world, who are destined to die from their disease

Research is a good investment. The 2008 Access Economics study, Exceptional Returns II, showed that on average each dollar invested in Australian health research returns $2.17 in health benefits.

The Lowy Cancer Research Centre is a state-of-the-art 16,000m2 building which accommodates up to 500 childhood cancer researchers, CCIA support staff and UNSW adult cancer researchers, as well as housing the very latest research technologies and facilities. After spending the past few years scattered across a number of different locations, all laboratories and staff are finally under one roof, allowing for much greater efficiency of operations.

We were impressed with the facilities, the equipment (including freezers set at minus 176 degrees Celsius) and the dedicated staff. Our money is being well spent on critically important work and I felt proud of Rotary’s involvement over the years.