Coomealla Club 500K Donation

31 May 2024

The President, Mr. Daryl Wescombe, and Chief Executive, Mr. Craig Muir, of the Coomealla Club, have announced a five hundred-thousand-dollar donation, on behalf of the Club, to the Mildura Health Foundation, to support the development of the Dr. Julie Zrna Centre.

Mr. Wescombe and Mr. Muir met with Mr. Gerard Op de Coul, Chief Executive of Mildura Health Fund and Mr. Terry Hill, Chair of the Mildura Health Foundation to confirm the sizable donation last week.

“As a Club, we considered the merits of the Foundation’s accommodation project and understood the huge benefits it will deliver for our wider community.

“We all know the problems rural people have in accessing health care and this community-led project is helping address these issues. The reality is, that most, if not all of us, will be touched by cancer in one way or another and the accommodation hub will help more of our families, our friends, get the cancer treatment and care they need.

“We unanimously voted to support the Mildura Health Foundation project and we were incredibly proud to do so,” Mr. Muir said.

The Mildura Health Foundation was established in 2023 with the commitment to raise $5 million to develop an accommodation hub specifically for people receiving radiation treatment at the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre.

Mr. Op de Coul described the Coomealla Club donation as ‘an unbelievable contribution’ towards the project that will soon commence construction in Thirteenth Street.

“The Club’s donation is going to make a significant difference and is a great example of two organisations aligning in a way that will benefit communities on both sides of the Murray River.”

Both Mr. Op de Coul and Mr. Hill have been passionate advocates for the Dr. Julie Zrna Centre over several years, believing it will increase the rate of people seeking life-saving cancer treatment.

“We know that people have refused treatment that required them to travel hundreds of kilometres away from home. We have heard the stories repeatedly and we do not want to keep hearing them, so we are doing something about it,” Mr. Hill said.

Once finished, the Dr. Julie Zrna Centre will include ten apartments that can accommodate radiation patients and their families at little to no cost and offer the critical networks that can support them throughout their cancer journey.

 Mr. Op de Coul said that by reducing the cost and complexities of travel, he is confident there will be an increase in the number of people from surrounding regions seeking cancer treatment.

“People in the city – they do not understand – they do not get the impact of having to travel so far from home for medical care, but we see it every day. We see the poorer outcomes in the country because people will not travel. The cost, the isolation from family, friends, and community, it is overwhelming and ultimately these barriers are costing lives.

“The Dr. Julie Zrna Centre will help to breakdown some of the barriers.”

Encouraging more people to undergo cancer treatment means there will be more patients accessing the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre and Mr Op de Coul said this in turn will attract more specialists and investment in health technology.

“This is all part of the building blocks for a high-quality health care system for our region. Together with valuable partners like the Coomealla Club, we can write the future we want to see for the health of our communities.”

With the project now entering what Mr Op de Coul described as the ‘exciting stage,’ Mr. Wescombe is calling on other organisations to follow the Coomealla Club’s lead and dig deep.

“I hope our five hundred-thousand-dollar contribution gives impetus to other people to look favourably on this project and back it in with more donations because if we want something done in our community, we need to all work together.

“So, put your hand in your pocket and let’s make this happen.”