Our Retreat in Kilmore, Victoria, is a purpose-built, home-away-from-home for the children we support. The Retreat is where they live while they prepare for and recover from surgery and treatment. Usually, on average, our kids spend about six months in Australia. A week of this is generally spent in the hospital. The rest of their time is spent at The Retreat.
24/7 holistic are
The Retreat is run by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers, including nurses and other allied health professionals. We are committed to providing 24/7 holistic care, recognising and responding to each child’s physical, emotional and cultural needs
Preparing for surgery
Preparing for any surgery is nerve-racking, especially when you are away from home, in a foreign country. We spend a significant amount of time working with the medical team to make sure the child and their guardian have all the relevant information. We want them to be confident and reassured with the upcoming surgery and recovery process. Many of the children are also undernourished, so we introduce a diet that will help them gain the necessary weight before the treatment begins
Maximising the impacts of the surgery
Most of the kids we help undergo complex surgery and treatment that requires a significant recovery period. This recovery is critical to the overall positive outcome of the surgery.
Physiotherapy is also a vital part of the healing process for the majority of the children. Fortunately, The Retreat benefits from a fully equipped physiotherapy room and a rehabilitation pool that can be used year-round. We are also extremely fortunate to have two volunteer Physiotherapists who see the children weekly.
This is further complemented by our staff and volunteers who work around the clock with the kids, ensuring that dressing and wound sites are cleaned and managed, rehabilitation and physiotherapy programs are followed, and medications are taken on time. All while, of course, keeping everyone’s spirits high!
Most of the kids would not have access to the facilities or expertise back at home that we have on hand at The Retreat. That’s why, post-surgery, we work incredibly hard to make sure that the children have fully recovered and are in the best possible condition before they go home.
To prevent kids falling behind with their learning while they are with us, education is another key focus at The Retreat. Our volunteer teachers run weekly education sessions tailored for each child. Homework continues with the staff and other volunteers at other times. Our English as an Alternative Language (EAL) programme is very popular, both with the kids and in many cases, their parents and carers too! Being able to communicate in English is a valuable asset which can open up avenues for employment and further education when they return home.
Many of the children we support have deep-rooted emotional and psychological scars. Some may have been ostracised and excluded from their community and from attending school because of their condition or appearance. The staff and volunteers at The Retreat actively work with the children to help them build their confidence and independence, learn new skills, and follow their interests and dreams.
“These children and young adults are given something very special during their time at The Retreat, in the form of education, life skills and improved wellbeing. Not only will they return home physically better, but as true citizens of the world, with broader perspectives and greater potential than they would have ever achieved if it was not for Children First Foundation.”Associate Professor Leo Donnan, Orthopaedic Surgeon.