Majarlin Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp
Over the past two years the Majarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health in Broome, Western Australia has been involved in the Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp Program.
This unique respite program sees high school and university students (known as companions) caring for children with disability (campers) to allow the young person and their families a short break.
The Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp Program began in 1998 with one camp in a Sydney school. Since then, it has expanded to 30 camps in over 50 schools and universities.
Nikki Hulse, Clinical Educator, Occupational Therapist, manages the Marjalin Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp. With 26 years of experience as an occupational therapist, Nikki grabbed the chance to be involved as soon as she heard about the camps at a staff meeting.
Nikki said that due to its remoteness in Broome, the Marjalin Sony Foundation Children’s Holiday Camp differs in a number of ways from other camps around Australia.
“Whereas other universities provide student companions for the Sony camps, Majarlin and the University of Notre Dame Australia set up and implemented their own camp” Nikki said.
“A lot of other camps focus on children up to 11 years with high physical care needs but this is not the case for the Broome campers. Our camp is targeted to teenagers and includes young people who may be dealing with mental health issues, or living with autism, or have particular social and emotional needs” Nikki said.
Not only does Majarlin run the most remote camp, but it also runs the longest camp.
In 2022, the camp ran for four days and three nights and involved 10 student companions from Marjalin and the local community: three occupational therapy students, three physiotherapy students, two speech pathology students and two St Marys High School students.
With no other respite service in the Broome region, the camp is providing a much-needed service for campers and their families. Of the 16 campers who participated this year, only one had accessed respite services in the previous year.
One parent, whose child had never had respite, sent an email to Nikki about her son’s experience at the camp:
“He had sooo much to tell me …. and just spoke really lovely things about the kids and the crew. As far as we are concerned you guys did an amazing job and you are an amazing group of dedicated peeps. Thank you for everything, can’t wait for next year”.
The camps also provide an opportunity for health students on placement with Majarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health to experience an innovative approach to delivering health services in a way that directly responds to the needs of the local community.
Nikki said while it is a huge workload for the Majarlin team the results for the campers, their families and the student companions make it all worthwhile.