Camp Quality will be first Australian charity to support children under 13 who have a parent with cancer
Coinciding with World Cancer Day (4 February), Camp Quality today announces that it will be the first national Australian charity to support children under 13 who have a parent living with cancer, responding to growing demand for this support from parents and education and health sector professionals.
Each year, approximately 10,000 parents are told they have cancer. By these estimates, every day, 27 Australian children (13 and under) will be deeply affected by the diagnosis of a parent who has cancer.
The charity commissioned Dr Claire Wakefield from Sydney Children's Hospital and University of NSW to undertake a comprehensive worldwide Literature Review on the support and interventions currently available to children with a parent with cancer, the largest of its kind, capturing 330 abstracts.
The review found that these children urgently require age-appropriate information, a safe space to share and 'normalise' their feelings with other children going through the same thing and support communicating with family members.
Without age-appropriate information, the review found that children commonly understood their parent was seriously ill before their parent chose to tell them, but had misconceptions about cancer which were often more frightening than the reality of their parent's situation. As it's unusual for children to contemplate their parent's mortality, this can lead to a psychological burden. Existing interventions in Europe and the US were found to reduce these feelings of anxiety and depression.
Simon Rountree, Camp Quality's Chief Executive, said: "This new program represents the largest expansion of services in Camp Quality's 30 year history. We'll support a group of children, aged 13 and under, which no other national charity currently helps. Our staff on the ground are repeatedly told of the need for targeted support programs to help kids in this age group - and we're proud to be the first organisation in Australia to do so."
Camp Quality is currently developing its programs which will meet the needs of these children and will start by focusing on children aged 7 - 12 years old who have a parent living with cancer.
The charity's programs will incorporate education and information resources in a book and an app for children to learn more about their parent's cancer. It will also develop programs where children can learn coping and resilience skills, meet other children who have a parent living with cancer and enjoy some respite from the stress of their parent's diagnosis. These programs are still in development, due to be launched later in 2014, and will incorporate the latest and best thinking around children's behavioural therapies.