Sister Margaret Noone
Sister Margaret Noone is a Loreto Sister, former teacher and junior school principal, and the first employee of Very Special Kids.
Following a 20-year career in education, Margaret was presented with the opportunity to study Theology at the University of California, Berkeley. It was here she began volunteering and working with children affected by life-threatening conditions, and her passion to help was born.
Margaret returned to Australia and in 1985 met two families whose children had died from cancer. Together they founded Very Special Kids in the hopes of providing the support they felt was lacking when their children were dying.
In 1989, Margaret was the recipient of The Gallagher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to study centres assisting families with a child suffering a life-threatening illness. Margaret visited children’s hospices across the United Kingdom, learning more about the importance of palliative care for children and young people. Margaret returned to Australia with invaluable insights from her trip and having seen first-hand the need for specialised palliative care for children, she set out to build a home-away-from-home for children, including respite and end-of-life care.
The Very Special Kids hospice, established by Margaret in 1996, was the first paediatric hospice opened in Australia and remains the only children’s hospice in Victoria. In Very Special Kids’ most significant service improvement ever, the hospice is undergoing a complete rebuild, with the new world-class facility due to open in 2023.
Margaret’s advocacy for paediatric palliative care has seen her travel the world, become a member of the first committee for the Palliative Care Association of Australia, and the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement.
Recognised in 2000 with a Member of the Order of Australia award, Margaret led Very Special Kids until her retirement in 2002. She remains very active in her role as Patron and in the redevelopment of the children’s hospice.
Today, Very Special Kids carries on Margaret’s legacy, providing holistic paediatric care for more than 850 children and young people, and their families, across Victoria.