Hummingbird House was initially the vision of Gabrielle and Paul Quilliam, though it has since grown and evolved to become the shared vision of thousands of families and supporters across Queensland.
Co-founders, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam, are an ordinary Queensland couple who, after fostering a child affected by a life-limiting condition, made it their mission to build Hummingbird House.
You can watch Gabrielle’s story in her TEDx Talk from TEDxSouthbankWomen 2013.
In February 2011, Paul and Gabrielle founded Hummingbird House Foundation (originally known as Queensland Kids). Since it’s inception, Hummingbird House Foundation has worked to become trusted curators of families’ stories; pursue credible interactions with all levels of government; engage the Queensland community; and develop relationships within the paediatric palliative care sector. This has ensured Hummingbird House has become an integrated support service for the 3700 Queensland children affected by a life-limiting condition and their families.
In 2012 and 2013 the organisation participated in both a Federal and State Parliamentary Inquiry into palliative care, which brought about favourable recommendations to support building a children’s hospice in Queensland. After an extensive advocacy process, in July 2013 the State and Federal governments committed to providing $3 million towards building Hummingbird House and $1.6 M each year to support the first five years of operations.
In March 2014 Hummingbird House Foundation selected Wesley Mission Queensland to be the operator and licensee of Hummingbird House, and a joint initiative was formed. Wesley Mission Queensland provided land at their Wheller Gardens site for the development. In the following months another significant partnership was established, as Hummingbird House Foundation entered into an International Children’s Palliative Care Network twinning agreement with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
In May 2014, a powerful and persuasive Queensland-wide feature article, written by Frances Whiting, was published in The Courier Mail’s QWeekend, sharing the stories of families who needed or would need Hummingbird House. This increased awareness of the need for Hummingbird House, and coupled with an excruciatingly compelling business case, resulted in two transformational gifts of $3.25million and $500,000 by the end of 2014.
As a result of philanthropic funding being secured to match government funding, in February 2015, the first sod was turned, and the building of Hummingbird House commenced. With the foundations of the building being poured with families adding special momentos, it was easy to term Hummingbird House as ‘the house that love built’. Over the next 18 months, the dream of Queensland’s only children’s hospice became a reality as the building took shape and supporters from all over Queensland helped build Hummingbird House.
On the 3rd of June 2016, the keys to Hummingbird House were handed over by our construction partners, Woollam Constructions. The facility began working towards a gradual safe opening, through a pilot phase for family referrals and service delivery. Over this time, the team continued to grow to include nurses; personal care workers; medical practitioners; housekeepers; a chef; and a family support team.
After 6 years of the Queensland community working together with corporate supporters and government, Hummingbird House officially opened in October 2016. To acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without the incredibly insightful input from families who have needed and will need Hummingbird House, families were invited to officially open the building by hanging one of 37 hummingbirds at the front door, representing the 3,700 Queensland children living with life-limiting conditions.