The Children

Ronnie and Alex

Massive change and transformation is reshaping our world. Our failing environment, due to considerable profiteering invasion, and the planet overall which sustains our very existence, is now expected to continue providing sustenance to the growing population in all countries - most of which are already overpopulated and more often situated by the coast. Many children are trapped within war-torn countries and their lives seriously under threat due to loss of family, disease, inadequate health care, education, and the lack of food and clean water. Globally our communities are experiencing an apprehension and anxiety about the future we are about to meet, in particular, what social structures and productive communities will exist for future generations?

As an island culture, Tasmania (Australia) is well positioned to demonstrate to the world (and itself) how communities can become empowered through information flow and collective participation. Any responsible preparation and groundwork we undertake today will only be the beginnings of the tasks future generations have ahead of them.

We require a good dose of optimism, so that a healthy balance and awareness can be restored at every level of social existence. Restoring peace, creating self-sustainable food supplies, improving health services and providing an open information flow, will encourage people to rebuild their lives especially in countries devastated by circumstances beyond their control. Blaming governments will not reverse this situation. It will come down to the Power of One – those individual single voices that have the courage to speak up in support of the reality we wish to create. Assisting positive change through direct action can return the vital hope required to put global communities back on their feet. First, we must stop the drive of systemic mechanisms designed to create destruction and degradation – whilst at the same time having little or no respect for human life. We can inspire and assist our children to make choices and distinctions regarding the world they live in and that it is not mandatory they accept what is presented on the evening news or offered through closed systems that offer little or no compassion. In providing a sanctuary for discernment and human thought we can assist the child’s search for wholeness, healing and self-esteem.

Ronnie & Maggie Burns moved to Tasmania in 1998 to build this principle for the protection of children – a respite and educational centre for young people disadvantaged through serious illness in our society. They believe healthy children require fresh air, pure water, sunshine, pure topsoil - and a peaceful environment beneficial to initiate a potential healing and lifting the human spirit.  Since opening its doors April 2004, Appin Hall has provided over 2,500 ‘bed-nights’ offering short-term respite accommodation for children suffering serious illness such as: leukaemia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, recovery from surgery, grief - along with children disadvantaged by destitution and homelessness across Australia.

Appin Hall is frequently approached by Government ‘young carer’ agencies and cancer related organisations, to broker large camps for young people - whereby we arrange food, cooks, kitchen hands, travel, a variety of creative and educational workshops, music nights and local attractions and more.

Our current Respite Centre and Dining Hall can accommodate up to 26 children plus 3 carers at any one time. Appin Hall invites children, their families, and young carers for a well-earned holiday away from the pressures of chronic illness and timeout from a system constantly on overload.

" The tragedy of children being traumatised in our communities is a growing concern and urgently needs to be addressed ... What little is being done to care for these people is drastically being reduced under schemes that offer little or no compassion. The carers, social workers, and the system, are under perpetual pressure - the losers being the children who become victims of this crisis. We need to see how we can offer these women and children support and not turn our backs on the wellbeing of those less fortunate in our community. "

- Maggie Burns - co-founder AHCF

The goal of education must be to inspire each young person (and adult) to find his or her own truths along the path of Life. The expression of such truths is founded in the experience of joy, excitement and happiness. Developing these attributes relies on an exploration of intellect (human thought), unrestrained creativity (imagination), and striving for excellence in delivering the necessary action (accomplishment). All of which brings about a person who is prepared to choose his or her own destiny. When are we going to choose to trust our intuition and imagination with all the methodologies we require to contain and be any idea we want to be - in the moment?


Priority for AHCF’s respite service is considered upon the needs of chronically ill children, children with lesser degrees of illness, carer need for respite and recovery, and families seeking time-out. In addition to ‘user’ groups providing psychological and counseling programs, in due course, AHCF aims to include additional healing modalities such as music, singing, dance and creative arts.

Age group and eligibility…

We invite children between the ages of 18mths and 24yrs old. However, chronically ill young adults outside this age group will be considered. We extend respite to young carers requiring timeout and families who have a child with illness and siblings also needing a holiday. Short-term accommodation only at this point in time.

Expressions of interest…

As a Service Provider, AHCF is committed to the care of children with serious illness (cancer, leukemia, asthma, HIV Positive, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and recovery from surgery) and who are disadvantaged, homeless, and destitute within Tasmania and Australia. Interested hospitals, families, doctors, oncologists, health and respite organisations, and social workers are encouraged to contact us to discuss availability and how we can work together to create a rewarding program for the children’s stay.

In addition to offering a respite centre AHCF will develop partnerships within the Tasmanian community and work with relevant community groups and qualified professionals to develop supplementary educational and recreational programs for the benefit of children with serious illness – incl. many other children suffering destitution or whom are homeless across the State. To provide educational and inspirational outdoor activities for large camps visiting our facility, a range of programs we be available that include developmental and creative experiences such as gardening, bushwalking, leadership training, martial arts workshops, animal dreaming workshops, dance, music, painting – along with cottage industry opportunities comprising vegetable growing, candle and soap making, craft, manufacturing tofu and dairy products. The Hothouse project will include an annex (nearby building) for cooking classes, agricultural workshops, drying and/or bottling of fruits and preserves, separating and churning butter, making plum puddings – and a large selection of other creative classes for the children. We will invite nationally recognized cooks and chefs to provide professional cooking classes for young folk wanting to partake in these programs. Our aim is to compose a realistic achievable working model for our village/school complex in the greater Tasmania, and to ultimately combine with other international projects that share our vision to serve the welfare of our most treasured resource - our children.

The Newman’s Own Foundation, Inc (Founder: actor Paul Newman) in Connecticut (U.S.A) contributed financially to the first prototype French Dining Hall prior to Mr. Newman’s death in 2008. Also at that time, Appin Hall proposed a plan to send 20 children from Appin Hall to Newman’s ‘The Hole in the Wall Gang’ in Connecticut – with a reciprocal arrangement whereby 20 young people from ‘THITWG’ would visit Appin Hall for 10 days. This initiative has been met with enthusiasm and is currently being considered.

Establishment of the Respite Centre has enabled AHCF to commence its caring activities, while at the same time, develop plans for the remainder of the site including the provision for more accommodation volunteers, tradespersons and other services. Once additional structures are constructed, and specific programs in place, skilled accredited tradespersons and administrative staff personnel with high levels of proficiency and integrity, will be carefully selected to work with groups of children and large camps with a view to passing on valuable experience to assist young people’s transition into the workforce.

" Communication is about bridging gaps, building new paths and sharing new visions… Reopening lines of communication, imparting positive information And evoking understanding is one of our greatest hopes for the future "

- Bill Gates

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