Following the success of last year’s ASRC Telethon, a target of $300,000 was boldly set for the 2017 Telethon on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2017. With a stack of celebrities, sport stars, musicians, lawyers, poets, and cartoonists working the phones, our ASRC team was quietly confident that the centre would smash the target.
There was an immediate buzz around the Nicholson Street office when the phone lines opened at 6am. Community radio station 3CR broadcast its morning show from the ASRC office while television presenter ‘Fuzzy’ Faustina Agolley was “like a seagull to a hot chip on the phone.”
Kick-starting the donations, Maurice Blackburn matched every dollar raised in the ‘Hour of Power’ between 8am and 9am. Hunters and Collectors front man Mark Seymour maintained the positive vibe, performing live for everyone in the office.
It was a busy morning for Tammy Fraser, too, as she came to the Telethon straight after an interview with ABC radio. On Facebook and Twitter Periscope, Jennifer Kanis from Maurice Blackburn interviewed Julian Burnside, and primary school students Ella and Alice discussed their incredible fundraising efforts.
As lunchtime approached, a number of our fundraising staff zipped over to Highpoint Shopping Centre where they enjoyed lunch 40 ASRC supporters and Telethon partner, Lush Cosmetics. Highpoint also had Dr Who style phone booths all around the centre where shoppers could donate.
Back at the Telethon, Gold Logie winner Samuel Johnson announced the auction of his famous gold Stetson hat that Molly Meldrum had given to him on Logies night. All money raised from the hat would be donated to the Telethon. ASRC ambassador Missy Higgins jumped on the piano and serenaded the Footscray office with her performance of Oh Canada.
As the afternoon shadow grew, the Telethon total was inching closer to the target of $300,000. The phones were running hot when Courtney Barnett and Milk! Records artists arrived. Ever the opportunist, Courtney Barnett’s grandmother called up to catch up with her granddaughter and donate to the telethon!
The donations team was polishing off third and fourth coffees when Abe Nouk came in and boosted everyone’s energy. The volunteers weren’t the only ones who were star struck, as Abe Nouk took the opportunity to Skype his younger brother a video of his favourite player – Majak Daw.
The second ‘Hour of Power’ from 5pm ensured that we blitzed the $300,000 target. Lush Cosmetics matched every dollar donated for the whole hour. Samuel Johnson’s Stetson was eventually auctioned for a whopping $4500!
Plenty of footy fans called in as Leila Gurruwiwi from the Mangrook Footy Show and Andy Maher from The Front Bar jumped on the phones towards the end of the night. Incredibly, our donations team was still functioning, despite the fact it had been soldiering on since 6am!
Donations were coming through up until the very last minute. In the end, we more than doubled our original target of $300,000 and raised $660,816!
That’s 1,200 nights of shelter, 1,699 holistic mental health appointments, and 1 year of food and groceries for 45 families. Together, Australia stood tall on World Refugee Day – thank you.