Hummingbird House: Discover the Heartening Start of the Only Children’s Hospice in Queensland

Caring for a child and raising a family were the farthest things in the minds of Paul and Gabrielle Quilliams before they founded the Hummingbird House in Chermside. It took one child for them to have a change of heart and be inspired to build a world-class facility for families struggling with a sick child.

Gabrielle shared in her TED Talk that she didn’t get a chance to be attached to the babies and their families whilst she was in South Sudan and Angola working as a nurse and midwife. At the time, her mindset was focused on getting in, doing a good job and getting out to work on the next family.

Changing the World as Foster Parents

Returning to Australia after her medical mission in Africa, Gabrielle realized she had this drive to change the world and help. She and Paul agreed to become foster parents when they weren’t yet ready to start a family.  

Photo Credit: Australian of the Year Awards

The Quilliams had the opportunity to look after a tiny baby with life-limiting conditions. But the whole time the baby was in their care, Gabrielle still pressed on with this mindset that she was not the child’s mum. She and Paul were just the temporary carers even if their whole lives changed for this baby and they were already in love with her sound, her smell and her general presence in their lives. 

Only when their foster baby was finally adopted by a new family did the Quilliam couple feel her impact. They had become a family caring and growing with each other all along that Gabrielle said she regrettably missed the opportunity to fully embrace becoming a mum with this sick child.

A Life-Changing Experience

The experience with this baby made the Quilliams quite aware of the struggles of many other parents and families who had to quit their jobs, adjust their lives and dedicate a chunk of their time to make sure their sick child has a good life, in spite of everything.

“We started to wonder if families like ours could find respite, regular high-quality care in their greatest moments of needs,” Gabrielle said. 

Statistics show that there are 3,700 families in Queensland with children suffering from life-limiting conditions. Many of these children won’t survive past their 18th birthday due to the quality of their life. 

Feeling compelled to do something, Paul and Gabrielle decided to build a hospice for kids with life-limiting conditions and their families by 2011. With funds and support received from the Federal and State governments, Hummingbird House thrived to give thousands of children medical support whilst their families are also cared for. 

Hummingbird House Officially Opens

After working with several sponsors and donors, a bigger Hummingbird House officially opened on Curwen Terrace in Chermside in 2016. This spacious house has eight bedrooms for the patients, five family suites, playrooms, a rock-climbing wall, an indoor garden, a memory room for photo moments, and a rooftop terrace. 

This facility has been designed for families to relax away from home whilst still receiving the best care for their sick child. There’s even a gourmet chef to provide the temporary residents nutritious and delicious meals they want to enjoy.

Of course, Hummingbird House has several trained clinical staff and experts in paediatric palliative care. They also have an art and play therapist, family counsellors and volunteers.

Photo Credit: Hummingbird House/Facebook
Photo Credit: Hummingbird House/Facebook

“It’s an incredibly happy place where families can reconnect and kids can just be kids and treasured moments can be made,” Gabrielle said during the unveiling of the house to the press.

“Whether it’s for five hours, five days, five weeks or five years we want to fill the child’s time with us with joy and fun while providing maximum support to their families,” Paul said of their work whilst receiving an alumni award from QUT. 

Photo Credit: Hummingbird House/Facebook

As a paediatric palliative care facility, Hummingbird House is also an option for families who don’t want to stay at the hospital or their own home on their child’s final days. A suite is prepared upon the child’s death to allow the families to grieve and say their final goodbyes.  

Funding Boost from Queensland

The award-winning facility recently received a funding boost from the State Government, ensuring its high-quality operation for the next five years.

 “The continuation of funding from the Queensland Government for the next five years, means we can continue to provide care for children affected by life-limiting conditions and their families, at no cost to them personally,” Hummingbird House General Manager Dr Fiona Hawthorne said.

Chermside’s Hummingbird House Dubbed as Carers Queensland’s Great Service Provider

In line with the National Carers Week 2017, the Hummingbird House was awarded as Carers Queensland’s “Carer-Friendly Business Awards’ Great Service Provider” for 2017. The “Great Service” category acknowledges non-profit organisations that are going “above and beyond” in providing their services.


What is Carers Queensland and its Carer-Friendly Business Awards?

Photo credit: Carers Queensland/Facebook

Carers Queensland works collaboratively with their partner organisations to raise awareness and provide services and programs to support the state’s carers and the people they care for.

Carers Queensland formed the Carer-Friendly Business Awards as an encouraging indication that there is an increasing number of organisations that recognise the value of supporting carers. Year 2017 marked the 14th year of the awards program that is recognising some of the most dedicated people and organisations in Queensland.


2017 Carer-Friendly Business Awards Winners

Great Service Provider Hummingbird House, Brisbane
Great Employee Naomi Kiehne, Townsville
Great Employer Jamie Blackman, Target Country Roma
Great Service Adrienne Penny, Rainforest Beach Studio B&B, Sunshine Coast


Who are the carers?

Melanie's twin boys were born with severe eczema and allergies. After years of going it alone, Melanie found a way to get the support she needed, and help other families along the way.To learn more about Melanie's support group, visit the Hands to Hold Facebook page.

Posted by Carers Queensland on Monday, October 30, 2017


Carers are the people who are supporting and walking beside a patient with a terminal illness. Research suggests that carers go through the same pain and emotional challenges as the patient does. Carers Queensland and the winners of the annual Carer-Friendly Business Awards show support to the carers who are continuously giving a part of their lives to their loved ones.


About Hummingbird House

Photo credit: Carers Queensland/Facebook

Hummingbird House is the only children’s hospice in Queensland that provides palliative care, not just to children with chronic and terminal illness, but also to their families. They are eager to support everyone’s emotional and spiritual needs.

It’s not just a house, it’s a home. Hummingbird is a home to children with life-limiting conditions and their families, allowing them to reconnect and create memories that will last a lifetime. They provide the “above and beyond” service that the Great Service Provider award seeks through short break stays, family support services, therapies, and care at the end of life.


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Hummingbird House was founded because of Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam’s goal to help every children and their families to treasure precious moments together after they had fostered a child with a life-limiting condition. Their dream came true last October 2016 when finally, they opened the doors of Hummingbird House.

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Families from all over Queensland placed 37 hummingbirds over their front door to represent 37,000 children in Queensland with life-limiting conditions. Since then, Hummingbird House has been fulfilling their goal of giving assistance, not just for the patient, but also for their carers.

Kidspace Playground Chermside Holds Picnic to Help the Hummingbird House

Mums of Brisbane is inviting every mum, dad, and parent-at-heart to bring their bubs and kids to the Kidspace Playground in Chermside for a free picnic. Mums of Brisbane is a new group that brings mums together to help them with social isolation and give them informative talks about unique and local perspectives of mum life. They organise family-friendly services and events, such as this social get together.


Event Details

Date Thursday, 12 October
Time 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Venue Kidspace Playground

Everything is FREE. Mums of Brisbane will bring some gourmet food and drinks. You don’t even need to BYO picnic blanket, because they’ll bring picnic blankets for you and for the kids. The Kidspace Playground provides a kid-friendly environment where kids can play, crawl, and roll all they want.

There’s a catch, but it’s a very noble one. Just remember to bring any gold coin donation that you can wholeheartedly drop in the donation tin. Mums for Brisbane organised this picnic to raise funds for the Hummingbird House Foundation.


Hummingbird House Foundation

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The Hummingbird House is the only children’s hospice in Queensland. For the record, there are only three children’s hospices in Australia. A children’s hospice is a home for children that provides a type of care that focuses on the palliation of chronic and terminal illness and attends to the child’s emotional and spiritual needs.

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Hummingbird House provides a “home” where kids and their families can reconnect and create precious memories that will “last a lifetime”. They help children with life-limiting conditions by providing short break stays, family support services, creative therapies, and care at the end of life.


Hummingbird House began in a home and will always be a home.

Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam founded the Hummingbird House as “Queensland Kids” in 2011. Paul and Gabrielle were just typical Queensland couple until they fostered a child affected by a life-limiting condition. Since then, they made it their mission to build a “home” to the children with similar conditions.

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Although the initiative started in 2011, the Hummingbird House just officially opened in October 2016. The foundation had gone through a lot of hard work in raising awareness about their mission throughout the years. The State and Federal Governments’ commitment and other organisations and businesses’ donations to fund the construction of their permanent location were the results of this hard work.

Families from all over Queensland hanged 37 hummingbirds at the front door, which represent the 3,700 children in Queensland living with life-limiting conditions.

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To support the Hummingbird House Foundation, visit their website. You may also check the Mums of Brisbane Picnic’s event page for the picnic details.