Sony Foundation’s YOU CAN campaign celebrates 10 years as ‘The Voice’ for young Australians with cancer

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John Farnham sang his classic ‘You’re The Voice’ to 1,000 guests at Woolloomooloo Wharf today, a tribute to 15 – 25 year olds with cancer who have advocated for a national improvement to the health system for teenagers and young adults with cancer through Sony Foundation’s ‘YOU CAN’ initiative for the past 10 years.

Sony Foundation’s signature event ‘Wharf4Ward’ celebrated its 10th anniversary of raising funds for youth cancer with a record $1.4 million raised on the day taking the total funds in 10 years to over $8 million.

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The funds have enabled over 4,000 youth cancer patient visits to You Can Centres for age-appropriate care and support services, a figure expected to double with the opening of two more centres in 2019.

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Sony Music Artists rocked the wharf with special performances from Jessica Mauboy, who performed at the first Wharf4Ward in 2009, singing sensation Conrad Sewell and the legendary John Farnham who performed on top of a glass boat with an epic 30 minute set.

Over the 10 years, the Sony group of companies in Australia rally together to support their Foundation and contribute to the entertainment spectacular with over 40 Sony Music Artists donating their performances and millions of dollars in donated Sony products, prizes and money-can’t-buy-experiences to raise funds.

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Global Chairman of Sony Corporation, Kazuo Hirai travelled from Japan for the milestone 10th anniversary event to recognise the significant contribution Sony Foundation Australia had made in the community. “What impresses me about You Can is it’s so tangible – four You Can Centres have been built around Australia thanks to over $7 million in funds raised to date from Wharf4Ward alone. These centres are prime examples of direct giving with real and actual impact,” said Kazuo Hirai.

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Sony Foundation CEO, Sophie Ryan said, “Wharf4Ward is more than an event.  It’s a platform for You Can to give a voice to young people who need it the most. It’s because of their ability to stand up and speak on behalf of the 1200 adolescent and young adults (AYAs) diagnosed each year that we have inspired a movement to no longer let 15 – 25 year olds endure cancer without much needed tailored treatment, support, space and services to give them the best chance at survival.

The confronting reality is that in Australia, a youth cancer patient dies every three to four days, mostly from brain cancer, bone cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. A horrifying reminder that there is still more to be done to improve the state of care for adolescents and young adults with cancer and one which Sony Foundation is committed to supporting,” said Ryan.

You Can Ambassador, 25 year old primary school teacher from Tamworth, Katelyn Mole, spoke at Wharf4Ward and said, “I’ve had about a month at home in Tamworth in the last eight months – eight days in a row is the longest I’ve been at home in that time. My incredible parents have essentially put their lives on hold to come and support me through this. They couch surfed for the first couple of months as there was no accommodation available in Newcastle and then footed the upfront costs and gaps involved for almost 2 months in Sydney.”

Approximately three people are diagnosed every day with cancer in this age group[1]. These young Australians were identified as falling through the gaps in Australia’s medical system in a senate inquiry in 2005[2] due to the current split between paediatric and adult cancer care resulting in a lack of specialised and age appropriate treatment, which in turn, has a profound impact on their survival rates.

Funds raised over 10 years of Wharf4Ward have contributed to;

  • 4 ‘You Can’ Centres in hospitals
    • Perth – $1.8 million – Opened in 2013
    • Melbourne – $1.5 million – Opened in 2016
    • Sydney – $1.5 million – Opening in 2019
    • Brisbane – $1.8 million – Opening in 2019
  • Free fertility preservation and storage for 13 – 30 year olds at NSW Fertility & Research Clinic, Sydney (opening 2019)
  • 3 Youth Cancer Research Studies
  • 70,000 visits to peer networking platform You Can Connect (www.youcan.org.au) since Aug 2017
  • 4,122 patient visits to a You Can Centre since 2013
[1] Australian Institute of Health & Welfare. Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality Books Annual mean 2007-2001: AIHW; 2015 [cited 2016 11 November]. Annual mean 2007-2011: Available from http://www.aihw.gov.au/acim-books/.

[2] 2005, June 23.‘The Cancer Journey: Informing Choice’. Commonwealth of Australia 2005