Date: 21 March 2024


THURSDAY, 21 March 2024: Sony Foundation, the charity arm of the Sony Group of Companies, united media, entertainment, and corporate heavyweights today at the iconic Wharf4Ward event to raise $1,500,000 to support young Australians with cancer.

Known as Sydney’s longest lunch, Sony Foundation took over the line-up of restaurants along Woolloomooloo Wharf with guests treated to performances by Sony Music artists (A-Z): Angus & Julia Stone, Coterie, Guy Sebastian and Sam Fischer. The event opened with a special medley from the cast of Michael Cassel’s ‘&Juliet’ featuring Rob Mills and Casey Donovan.

Wharf4Ward 2024 was hosted by Seven’s Samantha Armytage, Natalie Barr, Matt Shirvington and Kylie Gillies; Nine’s Richard Wilkins and Peter Overton; Paramount’s Osher Gunsberg and Dave Hughes; Sky News’ Erin Molan; ARN’s Matty J and Laura Byrne; Phil Burton with celebrity personalities and sporting legends including Brooke Boney, Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli, Kate Ritchie, Mal Meninga, Nicho Hynes, Toby Rudolf, Mark Bosnich, Jules Robinson, Krissy Marsh, Sally Obermeder, Costeen Hatzi, Melissa Hoyer and more in attendance.

Funds raised at Wharf4Ward will go towards Sony Foundation’s You Can Stay program, providing free and uncapped accommodation, for 15-29-year-old regional youth cancer patients, and their families, who have to travel to the city to access lifesaving treatment.  Since launching in June 2020, Sony Foundation has provided over 21,000 nights of accommodation for over 440+ youth cancer patients nationally. In January 2024, the You Can Stay program expanded to support patients 15-29 years (previously 15-25 years); which will see the number of patients supported double over the coming year.

Sophie Ryan, CEO, Sony Foundation says despite the significant progress that has been made in cancer treatment for adolescents and young adults, more must be done.

Our young people are continuing to fall through gaps. Youth cancer patients are commonly diagnosed with rare, complex and aggressive cancers requiring specialised treatment in city hospitals.

For our regional youth, it is a health equity issue, as the burdens of a cancer diagnosis are disproportionate to their city peers. We know there is a growing need for accommodation for youth cancer patients, a lack of services to meet their needs and an insufficient government subsidy for accommodation for patients. You Can Stay now plays an integral role in improving the survival rates of regional youth cancer patients by ensuring access to lifesaving treatment no matter what their postcode,” said Ms Ryan.

The support of over 100 corporate and media companies today is an incredible example of the impact collaborative corporate philanthropy can have in addressing some of our most pressing social issues. By being stronger together, Sony Foundation has and will continue to bridge the gap, with an ambitious plan to further improve health and well-being outcomes for youth cancer in Australia, including two exciting new expansions to be announced in 2024” said Ms Ryan. 

Alarmingly, one-third of youth cancer patients are from regional areas, and they are more likely to suffer mental health issues, financial strain and isolation due to the increased burden of seeking life-saving treatment in major cities. The survival rate of Australians living more than 200 km from cancer treatment can be up to 30% lower than people living close by.

25-year-old Emma Borlace from regional South Australia, was undertaking university in Wagga Wagga when she received a shock diagnosis of a rare blood cancer requiring her to relocate to Sydney for over eight months of treatment. Emma’s family were provided a two-bedroom apartment, at no cost, thanks to Sony Foundation’s You Can Stay program.

Cancer stole so much from me. My health, my fertility and my hair to name a few. My diagnosis and treatment also forced me to take a year off from university. The toll this had on my mental health was monumental,” said Ms Borlace.

Upon my initial admission into hospital, my family and partner Hugh were frantically figuring out where to stay, moving from hotel to hotel. Out of the chaos, came Sony Foundation’s ‘You Can Stay’ program. For 256 nights, Sony Foundation gave us a home away from home and they gave us a safe space that was more than just four walls and a bed. Those walls gave me stability in a life full of uncertainties, they saw me lose my hair for the first time, and then again, they saw me inject myself in an attempt to save my fertility, but most importantly it was a space in which we were together as a family.

My battle with blood cancer was relentless but not solitary. With every agonising treatment, my family were by my side, and I drew strength from them every day. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without them. In my darkest moments, when depression was rife, they made me laugh, they held me and they made me feel safe,” said Ms Borlace.

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