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In the largest donation in Telethon history, BHP Billiton has committed $20 million over the next five years to the Telethon Kids Institute to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Western Australia.

The first annual instalment of $4 million will kick-start the yearly Western Australian Telethon on Saturday night.

The Channel 7 Telethon Trust is a registered charitable trust that has a philosophy to financially support the medical and social welfare of children and young people, and to fund research into children’s diseases. The Telethon Weekend live 26 hour appeal is held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and is televised on Channel 7 Perth and on GWN7 throughout Regional WA.

Chairman of the Channel 7 Telethon Trust, Mr Kerry Stokes AC said:  “We cannot be more thrilled to acknowledge this outstanding contribution from BHP Billiton and its people.  BHP Billiton is such an important part of the lives of so many Australians, and in particular those living here in Western Australia.  This is a most generous contribution to Telethon Kids Institute, and on behalf of Telethon I would like to thank everyone at BHP Billiton for their commitment to assist the people of Western Australia and importantly support the major research efforts funded by Telethon for the benefit of all Australians.”

As the Institute’s Strategic Partner, BHP Billiton will support Telethon Kids’ bold new blueprint to make a tangible difference in the community. This will include recruitment of leading scientists, greater community involvement, new technologies, a commitment to collaboration and translating research into practical outcomes.

Of the annual $4 million contribution, each year $1 million will be set aside for a new program to focus on Aboriginal health issues in the Pilbara.

BHP Billiton President Iron Ore Jimmy Wilson said: “Telethon is a great Western Australian charity, and we are extremely proud to be supporting the important work of the Telethon Kids Institute, via Telethon, over the next five years. Our contribution will fund more than 40 new research positions, as well as important studies into Aboriginal health, which could generate ground-breaking new research right here in WA. I am excited about the potential our new partnership has to make a real difference in health outcomes for young people in this State and beyond for generations to come.” 

Telethon Kids Institute Director, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, said the funding would be transformational.

“This very generous support will enable us to create the best environment for researchers to do their work and see it quickly translated into policy or clinical practice so that it really can make a difference to children’s lives.

“We want to accelerate the discovery process and concentrate our efforts on the really significant issues, diseases and disabilities that are affecting children and families here in WA and beyond.”

BHP Billiton’s investment was made possible through BHP Billiton Iron Ore’s Community Development Program, which has contributed more than $275 million over the past five years to health, education, Indigenous development and community infrastructure initiatives in Western Australia. 

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