23 Feb Smith Family Story
Western Australia is one of the most isolated health jurisdictions in the world. There is only one choice when your child falls ill and requires complex treatment: pack up the car and make the trip to Perth.
In 2019, regional WA families with seriously ill children traveled approximately 1,271,080kms to reach Perth for medical treatment.
A WA family who knows about this long journey all too well is the Smith family from Albany, in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. Albany Mum Sara Smith, for the love of her son Liam, has traveled almost 40,000kms over 14 years. “Travelling a long distance knowing that you have somewhere to stay when you arrive in Perth is less stressful,” says Sara.
Liam (14) has 23 different medical complexities – he has never been formally diagnosed. Ronald McDonald House Charities WA (RMHC WA) has been the family’s home away from home since 2008, when Liam was 2 years old.
“We know that when we go to the House there are other families who you can talk to, you are going through the same thing that you are. It’s a support system that you definitely need at that point in time, it’s really a ‘House Family’,” says Sara.
For over 300 nights, across 97 different stays, RMHC WA has provided supported accommodation to the Smith Family. During difficult times the House has kept the strong, and resilient WA family together in their times of need.
“Liam can be himself in the House – there’s no judgement – everyone knows him,” says Sara.