There are countless special places in Tasmania, with its abundant forests, ancient mountains and hidden valleys. But one small plot of land in the hills south of Devonport is unique. 

Known as Appin Hall Children’s Foundation, the land is dedicated to helping kids who’ve been doing it tough. Founded by Ronnie and Maggie Burns, Appin Hall is dedicated to providing care and relief to young people disadvantaged through serious illness, grief, trauma, physical abuse and recovery from treatment. 

“We look after disadvantaged children right across Australia,” explained Ronnie. “Theyre disadvantaged through illness or trauma, and so we find these families via a vast network of social workers, oncologists, community workers, doctors, hospitals and psychologists. We bring these children and their families to our facility for respite and timeout from the ‘system’.”

Once they arrive at Appin Hall, the focus is on providing care and support, while giving children and their families the time and space to recuperate. The Burns’ organise workshops for the kids including taiko drummers, martial arts instructors, snake-handlers, African warriors, cooks and registered builders who are happy to share their skills.

It’s a simple strategy: provide a beautiful location with caring hosts, and give a child an opportunity to heal. It’s proven to be an effective method of assisting the recovery for those who come to Appin Hall. 

Ronnie used the example of four young children who came to stay with their grandmother after their mother was killed. Appin Hall’s response to their deeply traumatic situation was straightforward. “We took them out bike-riding. We played a lot of tennis. We baked cakes with some kids their own age,” Ronnie explained. “They just played and had fun.”

To continue its work, Appin Hall relies on donors and supporters. Coca-Cola Australia Foundation recently provided funding for a program that gives teenage parents and their little ones some precious time together – plus support to be with their children and other parents in a similar position. “We are always amazed to see the changes within a few days of their arrival,” Ronnie said.

“Its a fantastic facility for people just to get a bit hands on, learn some life skills, and it helps them get away,” said John Szabados, region manager with Coca-Cola Amatil, after he’d paid a visit to the site. “The long-term plans they have on the drawing board are absolutely fantastic. Ronnies vision for what they want to achieve is just phenomenal. So hats off to him.”

One of those long term plans is to increase the capacity at Appin Hall by building a French-style village to house visitors across the 13 hectare property. The reason I’m building in a French style is to be able to add elements of fantasy like secret passages,” said Ronnie. “These things stimulate and inspire children’s imagination.”

We just can’t do it on our own. So we go out into the community and the business world, and weve had very generous donors and sponsors,” said Ronnie. “A grant like this one really supports us in being able to do something quite powerful.”

For more information on Appin Hall, including ways you can support the project, visit appinhall.com.