A Tale of 4 Children and the Hummingbird House

Through the years, Hummingbird House in Chermside has helped hundreds of children with life-limiting conditions. Read all about four children whose lives have been touched and their families helped through their stay at the Hummingbird House.


Barely two years old when diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Clara is a little fighter who underwent months of rigorous treatments and tests. When her family learned that her cancer was palliative, they went to stay at Hummingbird House, where they spent her final days and had some quality family time that will be cherished forever. 


The van der Giessen family (Photo supplied)

Jack was diagnosed with Anencephaly, a neural tube defect, and passed shortly after being born. His parents, David and Elizabeth van der Giessen were referred to the hospice, which provided the family with care, compassion, and support when they needed it the most.

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Johnny was diagnosed with Vanishing White Matter Leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disease that affected his motor and cognitive function. The hospice is a very special place for Johnny, because it’s where he can be most free and be himself. He gets to enjoy his art therapy and music therapy at the hospice, helping him develop the skills he loves.


McKenzie was a 14-year-old sassy little soul, who suffered from a rare movement disorder caused by a mutated gene known as GNA01. In 2015, she was the seventh person to be diagnosed with GNA01 in the world.

McKenzie spent her last five years at the hospice, where she loved the arts and crafts, the music therapy, the hydrotherapy, discos in the pool, parties, and simply watching the sunsets from the rooftop.

About the Hummingbird House

Photo credit: hummingbirdhouse.org.au

Hummingbird House is the only children’s hospice in Queensland and one of the only three children’s hospices in Australia. 

With more than 5,700 babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions across Queensland, Hummingbird House is a home away from home, providing specialised, paediatric, palliative care services and supporting families.

To help Hummingbird House and the families they support, Coles launched a fundraising program, where customers can purchase $2 donation cards at Coles stores across the state, featuring four unique designs created by Hummingbird House families.

Jack’s Coles token (Photo supplied)

Coles Queensland State General Manager Jerry Farrell said Coles was proud to be entering its ninth year as a fundraising partner with Hummingbird House.

“Our customers and team members have been passionate about supporting Hummingbird House since 2014 when the hospice was just in the planning stages, and over the past eight years we’ve raised $3.5 million together,” he said.

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Coles’ fundraising efforts for the hospice will run until Tuesday 27 September 2022. To see all the specially designed tokens, visit hummingbirdhouse.org.au

Hummingbird House in Chermside Appeals for More Funding for This Reason

Hummingbird House, Queensland’s lone children’s palliative care centre in Chermside, has relied on generous donors and patrons to sustain the services they provide to families. However, launching a new program called Hummingbird House at Home has required added resources to ensure that support reaches more children.

In early 2021, Hummingbird House at Home was activated, providing families in regional towns the vital care and support for their terminally ill children without the need for travelling to Chermside. The services also extended to connecting families with local providers or community groups who are more equipped and logistically prepared to provide support. 

Yet rural and remote areas of Queensland are quite isolated and limited in supplies, services and expertise so team members of Hummingbird House at Home stay for some days with the families that need crucial end-of-life care for their kids. Many of these families prefer their child or baby to spend their final days at home, surrounded by familiar people in a familiar place.

Unfortunately, General Manager Dr Fiona Hawthorne said that the home care program for regional families has yet to establish a long-term plan due to a lack of funding. Though Hummingbird House receives grant money from the government, Ms Hawthorne said that they are looking for ways to supplement their resources to keep the regional home care program up and running. 

More than a year ago, recommendations have been made for the State Government to build a children’s hospice to cater to the regional areas.  Health Minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed that funding was allocated between 2019-20 and 2020-21 for these services but its implementation has been left hanging.

According to Hummingbird House, operating this free service to Queenslanders costs $5.4 million a year for at least 5,000 families. Visit the official site to know more about supporting the hospice centre, whether as a donor or volunteer. 

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.


Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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.

Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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

Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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.

Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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.

Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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.

Photo credit: www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au

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.