Tim Conolan of TLC for kids has been voted Australia’s Local Hero as part of the Australian of the Year Awards and is the only award recipient from Victoria.
Conolan established the charity TLC for kids with his long-term partner, Ana Darras, in 1998. It is a not-for-profit organisation that offers the fastest free support in Australia for all children in hospital and their families.
After a fearless entry into the world of entrepreneurship at age 20, Conolan was asked to attend a cancer support group camp as a motivational speaker. It was there that he met some seriously ill children who were to change the course of his life.
TLC’s aim is to reach those children who are distressed and in need of immediate help or who, by sheer misfortune, don't meet the criteria of the existing services such as accident and burns victims and children with less common illnesses and diseases. Since 1998 the charity has assisted more than four million sick children and their families.
Conolan was instrumental in developing TLC’s national Distraction Box program which benefits more than half a million children every year in 400 Australian hospitals. Distraction Boxes include therapeutic toys and items used by healthcare professionals to guide children through frightening and painful procedures, with preliminary research suggesting the toys and items reduce procedure time and hospital waiting lists.
Conolan’s aim for 2014 is to make the next 12 months the Year of the Smile and encourage people to look after each other, support a charity or simply share a smile.
With passion and an infectious positivity, Conolan has spearheaded the TLC for Kids’ remarkable growth and his mission remains clear: to ensure every child in every hospital in Australia has the emotional and practical support they need.