Rotary Club of Blacktown City

ROMAC (Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children)

Message from the Chair

ROMAC is extending its child health services across Australia and New Zealand. Recently, a 17-month-old patient from Solomon Islands received successful treatment for a serious spinal condition at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. With a pending MOU with Perth Children’s Hospital, we’ll soon be treating patients in the Western Region, our first in over 7 years. Plans are underway for a new ROMAC Region in Darwin to aid Timor Leste and to establish a secondary hospital in New Zealand, beyond Auckland, to cater to Pacific patients. To manage this expanding service, we urgently require volunteers for our National, Regional, and District ROMAC committees. Currently, we have 16 National Committee volunteers and 60 to 80 Regional and District Committee members. We need more volunteers, especially those with skills in the following areas:

  • Patient care and hosting;
  • Communications, Media and IT systems;
  • Medical especially in the Paediatric area;
  • Fundraising, Club Involvement and Marketing;
  • Hospital, Government and Corporate sector liaison.
  • Treasurer and Secretary roles

Your involvement will greatly contribute to our goal of treating at least 30 children annually.
If you are at all interested or would like to know more, please email our HR Manager, Jim Prokhovnik, at or call him on 0417355627.
Yours in Rotary

Ian D’Arcy Walsh

Patient Update – Malisha

Pictured: Malish with her mother, Leimas, at Starship Hospital.

Eight-week-old Malisha from Vanuatu was diagnosed with a complex cardiac condition which could not be treated in her country. She arrived in Auckland, New Zealand with her mother, Leimas, for cardiac surgery on 14 February 2024, sponsored by ROMAC.

She was immediately admitted to Starship Children’s Hospital for a serious respiratory infection, requiring several tests and treatments. After a nearly 4-week stay at the hospital, she gained 1.4kg and was infection-free, leading to her successful heart surgery on 12 March. After waking up from the surgery, Malisha showed signs of recovery by recognising her mother.

Leimas and Malisha originate from a remote region of Vanuatu, necessitating a move to Port Vila for Malisha’s treatment. Leimas supports her family by working in a market garden, and the pair stay connected with their family via Messenger. The youngest of five, Malisha’s joy on seeing her siblings and father is evident.

The Rotary Club of Newmarket, New Zealand, and their lead supporter, Rosie Bradshaw, have been instrumental in providing care and support for Malisha and Leimas during their time at Starship Hospital, even during an isolation period. The Club has pledged continued assistance post-hospitalisation.

Patient Update – John

Pictured: John at Ronald McDonald House.

On 7 February 2024, baby John from Vanuatu and his mother Pascal, travelled to Auckland, New Zealand for treatment for a rare heart condition. His treatment involved a Cardiac Computerised Tomography (CT) scan and scheduled surgery on 15 March.

John celebrated his first birthday on 9 March at Ronald McDonald House. Rotary Club of East Coast Bays members – Warren Patterson, Monique, Alastair New, and Peter Garnett – hosted a party with cake, cupcakes, and gifts, including a sensory book and toy. John’s mother Pascal was able to connect with family to share the joy and update them on John’s treatment.

Patient Update – Stancia & Krisselda

Pictured: Stancia & Krisselda at Canberra Hospital

The ROMAC ACT Region in Australia recently welcomed their first patients, two girls from Papua New Guinea, for major surgeries at Canberra Hospital. Seven-year-old Stancia, whose surgery was postponed to April due to hospital emergencies, is staying with her mother in Bungendore, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bungendore.

Nine-year-old Krisselda, awaiting preliminary tests and surgery, is residing with her mother and local hosts, supported by Rotary Clubs of Ginninderra and Gungahlin. Both girls are under the care of Dr. Hamid and A/Prof Croaker at Canberra Hospital, per the Memorandum of Understanding with the ACT Government and ROMAC. As they may require additional operations and extensive recovery time, several district Rotary clubs have offered respite for the families. The girls will attend school between surgeries once arrangements are finalised.

Patient Update – Melenaite

Pictured: Melenaite with her mother Michelle and host families and A/Prof Croaker.

Melenaite is 20-month-old girl from Tonga, who in 2022 received life-saving surgery and treatment with support from ROMAC. She recently returned for follow-up specialist appointments and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan at the Children’s Hospital in Randwick in Sydney, Australia.

Melenaite travelled with her mother, Michelle, and was accommodated at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick while attending specialist appointments. During their stay, Melenaite and Michelle enjoyed some fun times exploring Sydney, travelling on the ferry to Manly Beach where they enjoyed eating fish and chips.

Before travelling home to Tonga on 8 March, they spent a few days with their original host family and sponsor Rotary Club, Rotarian Debbie Whitfield, and the Rotary Club of Murrumbidgee Canberra. 

Regions Update – Northern Region Report by Adele Hughes

Pictured left to right: Adele, Carolyn, Wass and Judy at Brisbane Airport.

Carolyn is a nineteen-year-old ROMAC patient from Papua New Guinea (PNG) who was first treated in 2009 for breathing difficulties. She returned to Melbourne, Australia in February 2024 to complete her treatment program.

On 7 March, former ROMAC Operations Director, Judy Holland, and I met Carolyn and her father, Wass, at the Brisbane Domestic Airport from Melbourne. We assisted them in boarding their international flight back to PNG, marking the end of Caroline’s long treatment regime.

Later that night, we attended a highly successful annual Trivia Night, hosted by the Caloundra Pacific Rotary Club. During the event, we presented for ROMAC.On the following Saturday, we attended the D9620 District Conference, proudly representing ROMAC.

Regions Update – Central Region Reported by Elizabeth Davis

Pictured : Stanric’s farewell party with Rotarians from Clubs of Burnside, Unley, and Walkerville and the Solomon Island community. 

Stanric’s medical treatment in Adelaide was a success, much to the delight of the Central Region Committee. He and his mother, Seraphina, left Adelaide in early March. His departure was marked with a celebration. The Committee extends gratitude for the overwhelming support received. A community event in Prospect took place before his departure to acknowledge this. Attendees included members from Burnside, Unley, and Walkerville Rotary Clubs, as well as the Solomon Island community in Adelaide. 

Regions Update – Overseas Report by Richard Woodburn

Pictured : Janet’s story was featured in the Port Vila Daliy Post. 

The ROMAC team, including international Rotarians, collaborates to assist children needing medical attention. These Rotarians act as a bridge between families and ROMAC, managing medical appointments, report generation, and case assessment. After ROMAC approves a case, gaining passports for the child and guardian becomes the priority, which requires identification documents including birth and marriage certificates. The lack of these documents often presents challenges. Once passports are secured, a Medical Treatment Visa application follows, usually involving more medical checks. The Rotarians also arrange travel and brief families on what to expect during their stay in Australia or New Zealand.

Janet Kalpukai, a dedicated Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Port Vila, Vanuatu, has been helping families for over a decade, earning recognition with a Paul Harris Fellow. Despite the COVID-19 interruption, ROMAC and its diligent volunteers like Janet continue to serve children from the Pacific islands.

How Can You Help ROMAC

Every day Rotarians and Friends are providing funds to cover travel, accommodation and treatment for children and their carers. But we could help more children if we had more donations. Donations all go directly to children and their care. ROMAC funds its administration costs through investment and other income. Volunteers run the organisation.

Give a little, care a lot.

Rotary Clubs: If every Rotarian in Australia and New Zealand donated $20 and every club matched with $20 for everyone of their members, we could cover the costs of all the children referred to us annually.

Friends of Rotary: If every Friend donated $20 we could help even more children.

Australia – Donate now

New Zealand  – Donate now

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Address: PO Box 12, Blacktown, NSW 2148

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