The History of Telethon

Established in 1968, Telethon is an annual fundraising appeal that supports more than 100 charitable organisations that deliver medical research into childhood diseases and much-needed equipment, programs and health services for sick, vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Western Australia.

What’s it all about?

The Channel 7 Telethon, known commonly as Telethon, is an annual telethon established in 1968 by philanthropist Sir James Cruthers and Brian Treasure. It is produced by Channel 7 Perth, a television network in Western Australia. Funds raised through Telethon is currently granted to 107 beneficiaries, all united with a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Western Australia. It’s the highest donating Telethon (per capita) in the world, with it surpassing A$528 million in total in 2022.

The televised event runs for a continuous 26-hours, across Metro and Regional Western Australia on Channel 7 and 7plus (Nationally). The event held in October aims to raise money for its beneficiaries from donations made by private citizens and corporations, as well as from special fundraising events held throughout the year.

Each year, there are also children who have been chosen to represent all children who benefit from the money raised. Since 2010, these children have been referred to as the “Little Telethon Stars”.

Talent from Seven Network TV shows such as Home and Away, 7NEWS, Sunrise, The Morning Show, The Chase Australia, My Kitchen Rules, House Rules, Sunday Night and more make the journey to Western Australia for the Telethon Weekend to entertain the audience, visit sick children at Perth Children’s Hospital, take phone calls, and generally participate in the 26-hour marathon broadcast.

International legends

In addition, music guests are also a big part of the weekend. Over the years, performers during Telethon have included Sir Cliff Richard, Harry Connick Jr., Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Julian Lennon, Sammy Davis Jr., and Celine Dion. In recent years, past finalists from Australian Idol have also made appearances during the event, joining local acts and sporting stars.

Michael Jackson appeared on the 1985 Telethon as part of a deal with Western Australian millionaire Robert Holmes à Court (who owned the television station at the time) to acquire ATV Music Publishing. Jackson could not perform due to contractual reasons, but he spoke briefly and met the two “Little Telethon Stars”.

Where the money goes

Funds raised through Telethon have supported medical research into childhood diseases, provided equipment, critical services and life-changing opportunities for sick, disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Western Australia. Donations to the Channel 7 Telethon Trust are tax deductible and ensure that together, we can continue to provide our children with the best quality care and support now and in the future. Click here to view the full list of current beneficiaries.

The Channel 7 Telethon Trust​

The Channel 7 Telethon Trust is a registered charity, governed by a Board of Trustees. Telethon has a small team that operates all year round and is based at Newspaper House in Osborne Park, Perth. Telethon exists on a day to day basis because of the generosity of Seven West Media including Channel Seven Perth, The West Australian, The Sunday Times and Perthnow. All providing the Trust with tangible and intangible support through infrastructure, facilities, service and professional advice. Plus there are numerous other companies who donate time, resources and equipment to help us keep our costs to an absolute minimum across each year.

The Trust is a Western Australian based not for profit charity and has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status in Australia and as such all donors are entitled to a tax receipt and a full tax deduction for donations over $2.