New respite care facility coming soon to Queanbeyan

A new respite facility, the Yvonne Cuschieri House, will be constructed for Queanbeyan residents aged 18-60 and suffering from a terminal or chronic illness.

Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain joined NSW Member for Monaro, Steve Whan, Respite Care for QBN Chair, Paul Walshe OAM and members of the Queanbeyan community today to turn the sod for the new building.

Founder of the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group, Yvonne Cuschieri OAM provided financial support and friendship to more than 30,000 cancer sufferers and their families over three decades. Yvonne passed away on 18 June 2021.

From humble beginnings, the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group (now known as Rise Above) assists around 700 patients at any one time with money for treatment and ongoing living expenses.

Construction of the facility is being backed by $750,000 in funding from the Albanese Government, $1.35 million from the NSW Government, and $250,000 from the John James Foundation.

The project is also supported by the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council through the allocation of a block of land, along with minor grants from Hands Across Canberra, and Snow Foundation and Aspen Foundation ($25,000).

The Albanese Labor Government will also provide an additional $1 million into the facility to support its initial operations – as committed by Labor during the 2022 election.

The new facility is planned to open in late 2024 – early 2025.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eden-Monaro, the Hon Kristy McBain MP:

“I’m thrilled to see shovels in the ground for Yvonne Cuschieri House, because it means that people in Queanbeyan are one step closer to getting the patient-centred, integrated respite care that they need.

“We know that right now across Queanbeyan, carers are providing ongoing, unpaid support to family members or friends who have terminal or chronic illness – which is why this facility will make a huge difference.

“It’s why I worked hard to secure an additional $1 million in funding to support the facility’s first year of operation – on top of the $750,000 we’re delivering to get the building off the ground.

“I want to thank Respite Care for their continued advocacy for the Queanbeyan community and for driving this critical project.”

Quotes attributable NSW Minister for Health, the Hon Ryan Park MP:

“The new facility will realise the dream of long-time local cancer supporter, the late Yvonne Cuschieri OAM.

“This is an important milestone for the Queanbeyan community and for families who are caring for a loved one who has a chronic or terminal illness.

“For these families it is an extremely challenging time. This facility will provide the specialist care required so that families can be certain their loved ones are cared for while they have some respite.”

Quotes attributable to State Member for Monaro, the Hon Steve Whan MP:

“This is a great day for the Queanbeyan community and a fitting way to remember the amazing determination Yvonne had to help people and families with chronic and terminal illness. 

“Yvonne Cuscheiri was inspiring, and the commitment the Respite for Queanbeyan committee has shown in getting us to this day shows they share that same drive and commitment to our community. Congratulations to Paul Walshe and his committee.

“As a local member it is always rewarding to be able to help a project which is initiated and driven by the community. Our community is going to get a facility that will help many families during very tough times, it will help carers get a break, it will take a load off them and our health system while giving appropriate loving care to people who need it.”

Quotes attributable Respite Care for Queanbeyan Chair, Paul Walshe OAM:

“Yvonne’s vocation began in 1985, when she raised funds to send 13 teenagers with cancer to a Canteen camp.

“It wasn’t long before social workers were knocking on her door on behalf of other families needing help and Yvonne began hosting support group meetings in her dining room.

“Yvonne is known for always putting others first, but her desire to help others affected by cancer comes from a deeply personal space. While continuing to fight her own battle with lung cancer, she lost her son to a brain tumour in 2013.

“This personal pain made Yvonne even more determined to support others and to build a respite care facility in Queanbeyan. A facility that was not available for her son prior to his passing.”