Telethon is expected to receive at least a $10 million boost from the State Government with Mark McGowan hinting at an even bigger pledge this year from the public purse.
The Telethon tally is already heaving with big donations from WA’s generous corporate sector, with Mr McGowan and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese set to reveal funding commitments on Sunday.
“We donated $10 million last year, so I think that’s at least the new base for what the State will do,” Mr McGowan said.
The Premier said the annual donations garnered through the Telethon weekend had become a significant staple for the State’s health-sector funding.
“Telethon is one of the very special things about WA — it’s the strongest per-capita fundraising event in the world,” he said.
“It’s for an extremely good cause, which is young people’s health and research, so it’s just a magnificent event and we should — as a State — be very proud of it. Fifty-five years is a long time, as I well know because it’s the same age as me, but it’s improving with age whereas I don’t think I am.”
The Premier said the donations had long-term benefits as well as immediate impact.
“It’s very important for our research efforts and the community organisations that deal with children,” he said. “What I find amazing is that the generosity is diverse, extending from billionaires giving a million dollars to people on welfare giving $50 or $20.
“It crosses all income levels and especially when you’re in the phone room, you’ll hear kids call in to give their pocket money. It is always very heartening.”
Mr Albanese reflected the true weight of Telethon when he told The Sunday Times it was “one of the first events I locked into my diary when I became Prime Minister”.
“There was no way I was going to miss it,” he said. “I know the difference this iconic fundraiser has made over 55 years to the lives of tens of thousands of children and families, so I’m pleased to be here for my very first Telethon.
“When I was here a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting two of this year’s Little Telethon Stars, Ari and Emily, and I was blown away by their enthusiasm and excitement despite the individual challenges they have faced.
“Telethon wouldn’t happen without the generosity of Western Australians who dig deep every year. Let’s make this year a record-breaking success.”
Last night Mr Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon joined Mr McGowan and his wife Sarah at the star-studded Telethon Ball, the most prestigious charity ball in the country.
Other guests included Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes and his wife Christine, Telethon chairman Richard Goyder and his wife Janine, and WA Governor Chris Dawson and his wife Darrilyn.
Corporate WA heavy-hitters included Chris and Tia Ellison, Rhonda Wyllie, Simon Trott and his wife Veronica, Brandon Craig and his wife Melissa, Elizabeth Perron and her partner Warwick Hemsley, and Megan Wynne and Bruce Bellinge.
A list of the “million-dollar” donors to date include Hancock Prospecting, Mineral Resources, the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation and Hawaiian.
Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation also pledged to double community donations made between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Saturday night up to $1 million.