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The KIDS Foundation, established in 1993, occupies a unique position as a national leader in childhood injury prevention and injury recovery and is one of the few organisations of its kind committed to creating and instilling a culture of safety among young people with its integrated approach to safety education and rehabilitation.
Susie O’Neill began her career as a preschool and primary school teacher, where she specialised in working with children at risk. It was during that time that Susie met a 12-year-old boy who was recovering from injury in a ward with three men in their 90s because, at that time in Australia, there were no rehabilitation centres for children.
Troubled by this boy’s situation, Susie decided to do something about it and in 1993 she established the KIDS Foundation – which takes its acronym from Kids In Dangerous Situations – as an organisation dedicated to injury prevention and injury recovery for children.
In 2000, the KIDS Foundation opened its first children’s rehabilitation unit – “Pete’s Place” – at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in Ballarat. Later, a second refurbished unit for young people was established at the Caulfield General Medical Centre. The first child to stay in Pete’s Place was a burn survivor, and when it was time for him to return home, a national support network to assist in his recovery outside the comfort zone of the hospital could not be found. It was then that the KIDS Foundation established the Burn Survivors’ Network.
Research has revealed that more than 5000 Australian children are injured in accidents every day, and of those injured, more than 100 require hospitalisation.
Preventable accidents also remain the single largest cause of childhood death in Australia.