Sydney You Can Centre Opens

26 Apr 2022

NSW Premier Perrottet officially opens Australia's Largest You Can Centre

Sydney You Can Centre at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse opens it's doors to youth cancer patients

Date: 26 April 2022

18-year-old cancer survivor, Elliot Prasad assisted The Hon Dominic Perrottet MP, Premier of New South Wales, The Hon Brad Hazzard MP, New South Wales Minister for Health, today in officially opening Australia’s largest ‘You Can Centre’ dedicated to 15 – 25-year-olds with cancer at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

The fifth in the national network of Sony Foundation’s ‘You Can’ youth cancer centres, it is the first to also include self-contained accommodation for regional and rural youth cancer patients and their families. The You Can Centre has been made possible thanks to funding from Sony Foundation, the NSW Government, and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

You Can Centres are helping to bridge a gap in cancer care for adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Designed to be a social haven away from the hospital wards with relaxation areas, the latest Sony entertainment technology, kitchen/dining, areas for study, yoga and consult rooms, and outdoor spaces, importantly the You Can Centres provide spaces for young people to be together providing peer support to each other. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state-of-the-art purpose-built centre will greatly benefit young cancer patients.

“The NSW Government is proud to make a half a million-dollar contribution to this You Can Centre at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We will always look to support important causes that add further assistance to young people fighting debilitating diseases as well as their families,”

“We understand the strain that travelling for treatment can place on regional families, so the additional accommodation support that the You Can Centre is offering will enable families to focus on treatment and recovery, with one less stress.” Mr Perrottet said.

The centre has been made possible thanks to a $1.5 million donation from Sony Foundation, the charity backed by the Sony group of companies, a contribution of $500,000 from the NSW Ministry of Health, and $186,000 from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, who will also manage the ongoing specialist clinical care.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is a not-for-profit comprehensive cancer hospital and Sarcoma Centre of Excellence in NSW. Sarcoma, a bone and soft tissue cancer affects primarily the AYA demographic, accounting for approximately 12% of all cancer diagnoses in this age group; with many young people from NSW, and more broadly from across Australia, travelling to Chris O’Brien for specialist treatment.

The You Can Centre will support Chris O`Brien Lifehouse in delivering specialist adolescent care, and supported accommodation for patients and their families. Importantly offering an alternative to in-hospital acute or supportive care.

With 33% of adolescent patients being from regional NSW, the You Can Centre has four apartments, allowing these patients and their families to access free accommodation as part of Sony Foundation’s ‘You Can Stay’ program to help reduce the financial and emotional stress that comes with travelling for treatment. 

Sony Foundation CEO Sophie Ryan said that since its inception in 2010, the Foundation’s ‘You Can’ youth cancer program has donated more than $12 million to fund youth cancer initiatives including You Can Centres in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, youth cancer research projects, a national oncofertility preservation service, and the national accommodation program, ‘You Can Stay’, to help bridge a gap in the health system.

“We are proud to work with incredible partners across government, health services and corporate Australia who share the vision of innovating the model of care for our youth cancer patients. Our You Can Centres are changing lives right around the country and today we are thrilled to open the doors to this You Can Centre in Sydney to enable the same support,” Ms Ryan said.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse CEO, Eileen Hannagan said the centre will support young patients from all over New South Wales, and Australia, who come to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for treatment.

“Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is delighted to open our very own You Can Centre, which will be a place of comfort and hope for our young patients and their families,” said Ms Hannagan.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Adolescent and Young Adult Psycho-Oncologist, Dr Toni Lindsay, said the centre would be life-changing for young patients with cancer, but it would also advance treatment and research.

“For months on end, the young person can be disconnected from their friends, social circles and normal life. Without these relationships, a young person is at risk of emotional difficulties and becoming isolated.

“The You Can Centre will provide our young patients with opportunities to connect with others their age, in a way that is not forced or uncomfortable, but in an environment that is non-clinical, welcoming and relaxed,” said Dr Lindsay.

Sony Foundation raised the $1.5 million for the development of the You Can Centre at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at their major fundraising event ‘Wharf4Ward’ in 2019.

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