Peter’s Project’s inception was on 15th September, 2008, when local man Peter Jellie, aged 49, passed away from Oesophageal cancer.
Peter was a family man living and working in Warrnambool. During the last twenty weeks of his life he was diagnosed and treated. From his diagnosis, he had 20 weeks of life – For eight of these twenty weeks Peter was in Melbourne, 320km away, having radiotherapy treatment sessions lasting for fifteen minutes each day, which meant that Peter spent precious time away from his family, home, work and support network. This scenario is typical for regional cancer patients. All of this precious time is critical in their shortened life.
After his death, Peter’s wife Vicki, moved forward with a goal to bring radiotherapy to South West Victoria and South East of South Australia, so people affected by cancer could have access to vital radiotherapy treatment locally rather than spending precious weeks away from their family and support network and travelling up to 4-5 hours one way, to receive that treatment.
A recent research document into the need for Radiotherapy for South West Victoria, exhibited above average mortality rates for cancer cases in the region. One third of those persons who need Radiotherapy, declined treatment due to tyranny of distance, financial, sickness and family social stress issues.
Before the success and momentum of Peter’s Project, those members of the South West community who were faced with cancer had no other choice but to drive up to 5 hours to access and undertake the stressful, frequent and time consuming cancer treatment process.
Peter’s Project is working to provide a state of the art facility for cancer patients in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia. The formation of Peter’s Project was driven by the difficulty to access cancer treatment facilities for patients living in the Warrnambool area and surrounding regions.
In March, 2009, a Board and Committee of Peter’s Project were convened and in June that year, a Trust known as Peter’s Project Charitable Trust, was set up and was also endorsed as a tax deductible gift recipient by the ATO.
After a year of gathering information and initial State government lobbying, a public launch to the community was held in February, 2010. Over the next 3 years, Peter’s Project became very widely recognized by their supportive regional community.
The Committee set a solid foundation model and lobbied both State and Federal governments for a commitment and financial assistance to provide radiotherapy and a Regional Cancer Centre, based in Warrnambool.
The community took ownership of this cause and rallied together to begin to raise funds to make this vital need a reality.
The community were heard by the Politicians … the Peter’s Project Committee and the thousands of people in our regional community have made their strongest possible representations and, in May 2013, had full financial commitment from the Victorian State Government, and the definite outcome of a Cancer Centre with radiotherapy to be established in Warrnambool.
In July, the Peter’s Project Committee continued to lobby the Federal Government for a $10 million contribution toward this facility.
Peter’s Project and their amazing community are ordinary people who have worked together and have achieved positive change through their committed efforts.
Peter’s Project has transitioned from an advocacy group, convened in 2009, seeking improved cancer treatment services in the South West of Victoria, to a philanthropic foundation which will continue to support regional cancer services and the newly established South West Regional Cancer Centre.
This transition will benefit regional cancer patients for years to come, and has occurred in response to community wishes, and expectations, that Peters Project continue on in a supporting role after the SWRCC is established.
The Peter’s Project Foundation will place particular emphasis on patient support services area within the SWRCC and also assist with some cancer care requirements within other regional established treatment centres.
A community driven initiative, Peter’s Project was established in honor of Peter Jellie who died of oesophegeal cancer in 2008 and driven by his wife Vicki Jellie. After success in the political field lobbying Local, State and Federal Governments, Peter’s Project moved to a fund raising phase. This resulted in $5million dollars being raised by the regional community and leveraging $10 million from the Federal Government and $15 million from the Victorian State Government to enable the state-of-the-art radiotherapy and integrated cancer centre to be built, with capacity to treat up to 500 patients per year. The SWRCC is expected be open and operational in mid-2016.
The success of attaining an Integrated Cancer Centre in the South West of Victoria, would not have been possible without the dedication and support of the regional community. The community will continue to work together into the future, with the Peter’s Project Foundation and Epworth Healthcare, to ensure the very best cancer treatment for the region.