Our History

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Children First Foundation was established when a team of like-minded people shared a dream that all children had access to excellent medical care when they needed it. Together, we wanted to give a helping hand to children from countries without the resources needed to help them.

In the beginning children were cared for by a team of volunteers at donated properties in Melbourne and Kilmore while they underwent surgery provided by generous surgeons and hospitals. But as more children were referred for treatment, plans developed to establish a Foundation with a formal structure so that donor support would be managed appropriately and the work could expand and grow.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many people the plans eventually became a reality with the formal establishment of Children First Foundation in July 1999. Rotary District 9790 joined forces with Children First and at the same time Rotarian and Kilmore local Noel Baker and his wife Janis donated 45 ares of land to the newly formed Foundation to build a home where the children could be cared for while they were here for surgery.

A house was donated and transported from Bright and a team, led by then Rotary District Governor Geoff McIlvenna and fellow Rotarian Bernie Lamers AM, re-built and fitted it with donated materials and fixtures. The design of the house enables us to meet the complex needs of the children before and after surgery.

The Children First Rotary Farm was officially opened by the then Governor of Victoria John Landy AC MBE in November 2001.

In 2016 the property was renamed the Retreat to better reflect its purpose as a haven for children while undergoing medical treatment , but the relationship with Rotary and District 9790 continues.

Children First is extremely grateful for the contribution of Rotary District 9790, generous Rotarians, suppliers, individuals and volunteers who built this special place and worked together to establish Children First Foundation.

The Foundation acknowledges Moira Kelly who was the inspiration for the beginning of the Foundation’s work. Moira left Children First in 2011.