Telethon Ball: Generous A-listers come together to raise millions for sick children at annual charity event

Andrei HarmsworthThe West Australian
Gerhard Veldsman, Gina Rinehart, Peter Dutton and Sanjiv Manchanda at the Telethon Ball.
Camera IconGerhard Veldsman, Gina Rinehart, Peter Dutton and Sanjiv Manchanda at the Telethon Ball. Credit: Alan Chau & John Koh/Supplied

The annual Telethon Ball lived up to its reputation as Australia’s most exclusive and generous invitation-only black-tie event on Saturday night with millions of dollars raised for sick children by a guest list that ranged from billionaire philanthropists to influential politicians and bosses of the nation’s biggest companies.

Rhonda Burchmore opened the festivities at the Crown Perth ballroom while music superstar and Seven personality Marcia Hines also serenaded the star-studded crowd.

Father of Telethon and Seven West Media chair Kerry Stokes AC and his wife Christine Simpson Stokes, WA Premier Roger Cook and wife Carly, BHP’s Australian president Geraldine Slattery, Chris Tynan from the Blackstone Group, and Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton were among the luminaries.

Kerry Stokes and Christine Simpson Stokes.
Camera IconKerry Stokes and Christine Simpson Stokes. Credit: Alan Chau & John Koh/Supplied

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Mr Stokes said the generosity at the event meant there was more hope for children who need help.

“Tonight and tomorrow night when we finish, we’ll maybe raise $70 million and that means another thousand kids are going to have a better future,” he said.

“We are investing in kids’ futures and research. This means another thousand kids are going to be better off and that’s got to be a good thing.”

Australia’s richest person and reigning Western Australian of the Year, Gina Rinehart, was at the ball along with many of the most senior staff from her sprawling empire.

Australia’s richest man Andrew Forrest was also in attendance, along with fellow billionaires Chris Ellison, the Mineral Resources founder, and Laurence Escalante, the Virtual Gaming World founder.

Liontown chair Tim Goyder, ex-governor Malcolm McCusker and his wife Tonya of the McCusker Charitable Foundation, and Stan Perron Charitable Foundation chair Elizabeth Perron were also at the ball.

Malcolm & Tonya McCusker Supplied
Camera IconMalcolm & Tonya McCusker Supplied Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Donations from the evening’s “Making the impossible, possible” auction — hosted by Basil Zempilas — helped fund therapeutic equipment, and tailored programs and state-of-the-art services needed by our sickest children such as15-year-old Palmer Jobe.

Guests heard how Palmer was told he would never eat, walk or talk after complications at birth.

Surrounded by his four siblings, the teen has learnt to walk, communicate and experience joy after being supported through treatment and therapies provided by Telethon beneficiaries.

Auction items included a 24-person suite for the upcoming Coldplay concert at Optus Stadium, a 1kg gold bardonated by Northern Star Resources, a luxury Kimberley helicopter safari donated by Tourism WA and HeliSpirit, a Crown ultimate staycation for six, a private drone show donated by Drone Sky Shows, a Grange magnum wine collection donated by Grange, an ultimate AFL grand final experience donated by the AFL, an ultimate New York City experience for four donated by Paspaley and Qantas, and a private dinner for 10 with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago.

Crown also donated three ultimate packages for two for the upcoming Taylor Swift concert in Sydney.

Telethon Trust chair Richard Goyder AO watched on as the tally soared on the night and thanked major donors including BHP, who recently purchased important medical equipment for King Edward Memorial Hospital’sNeonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“Before its successful launch in WA in 1968, the thought of creating and delivering a children’s charity fundraising drive on TV was said to be impossible,” he said.

“The scale of generosity in nearly six decades from West Aussies is unrivalled. In the 56 years since Telethon has raised $528 million dollars to support hundreds of thousands of sick children and their young families.

Janine and Richard Goyder.
Camera IconJanine and Richard Goyder. Credit: Alan Chau & John Koh/Supplied

“Thanks to the success of Telethon and the generosity of West Australians, we are supporting a record 107 charitable beneficiaries in 2023. These fantastic organisations are pivotal to advancing medical research and providing essential services, equipment and programs for our most sick and vulnerable children.”

Mr Cook also praised the generosity of West Australians.

“Telethon is a WA institution, and it has been bringing WestAustralians together for decades,” he said. “Whether it’s lifesaving equipment for children in hospital, critical services for children with disability, or programs for families doing it tough — the donations of Western Australians make a real difference to lives across WA.”

Anthony Albanese couldn’t attend the ball because of a trip to the US, but during the broadcast on Saturday night the Federal Government announced a $6 million donation.

Carly Lane and Roger Cook.
Camera IconCarly Lane and Roger Cook. Credit: Alan Chau & John Koh/Supplied

The Prime Minister was in Perth on Friday to meet this year’s Little Telethon Stars as well as tour the Perth Children’s Hospital.

“Telethon is a highlight of the WA calendar and it was a privilege to meet the 2023 Little Telethon Stars and their families,” he told The Sunday Times. “Connor, Sophia, Harrison and Emily are full of joy and enthusiasm despite their individual challenges.

“Thank you to the organisers and volunteers, Little Telethon Stars, the WA Government, businesses and the community for making this weekend such a special and worthwhile cause.”

Rio Tinto iron ore boss Simon Trott and his wife Veronica were also in attendance among several senior staff from the mining giant.

Rio Tinto throws its support behind regional families who arrive at Perth Children’s Hospital by funding KIIND, which provides emergency supplies of nappies, baby clothes, phone chargers and EFTPOS vouchers during emergency visits as well as 12,000 parking vouchers for the families.

Equipment purchased from the night’s donations included the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, which Mineral Resources bought for $491,000. The advanced robotic weight support system has revolutionised therapy for children in WA.

Pilbara Minerals bought an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Unit for Perth Children’s Hospital. The device is a life-support measure that takes the place of a child’s heart and lungs for a period of time, allowing a child to recover from surgery and giving treatments time to work.

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