Telethon 2023: West Australian generosity drives fundraising total to a record $77.5 million in 26 hours

Posted October 23, 2023
Telethon 2023: West Australian generosity drives fundraising total to a record $77.5 million in 26 hours
Western Australia’s overwhelming generosity has driven Telethon to a new record total, raising $77.5 million.

As rock royalty Jimmy Barnes closed the show to a packed RAC Arena, some of the biggest names in Australian entertainment celebrated the mammoth amount raised for sick children.

But throughout the 26-hour extravaganza, the big names were happy to give the real celebrities for the weekend centre stage — this year’s four Little Telethon Stars.

And Harrison Carthew, 6, Connor Barrett, 8, Emily Houston, 7, and Sophia Marshall, 7, completed their last official business as Telethon kids, closing the show out joined by actors, singers, and Channel 7 personalities for Barnes’ rendition of Tina Turner’s classic “Simply The Best”.

This year’s mammoth total eclipses the previous record of $71.4 million, set last year.

Telethon fun in the phone room at RAC Arena. Emma Memma.

The collective tally raised by Telethon since its 1968 inception hit more than $600 million as the marathon fundraiser came to an end.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who this year committed $6 million from the Federal Government, praised Telethon as a “unique national phenomenon”.

“It’s extraordinary how generous people are and the whole community gets behind it,” he said.

“The thing about Telethon is it’s about helping people who really need it — young children.

“It’s fantastic to see first-hand that every single dollar makes a difference to a young child’s life — and to their family.”

Telethon 2023. Christine Simpson-Stokes and Kerry Stokes, Basil Zempilas, Richard Goyder and Roger Cook

Speaking near the conclusion of the two-day spectacle, Seven West Media chairman and father of Telethon Kerry Stokes AC said “as a result of the successful fundraising we’ve done, at least another 1300 West Australian children will be better off and that’s part of our community”.

“Telethon belongs to every child of Western Australia, either as someone helping others, or those in need of help. Whichever side that’s on, this organisation is there for the children of Western Australia,” he said.

“It demonstrates the philanthropy, the generosity and kindness of political, commercial and people generally, and our caring for our children.”

Telethon chairman Richard Goyder said: “Thank you to the incredible community of Western Australia — from our major resource companies to the corporates, to our incredible philanthropists, to so many families and schools and community groups who have combined to let us set a new record this year to help our kids.

“To our kids and to the families of the kids that we’ve seen this weekend that we need to help, who have put themselves out there to show to us as a community what their needs and requirements are, and to those families and all the families we help for our more than 100 beneficiaries, thank-you for everything you do to support the kids.

“All I can say is on behalf of the community of Western Australia we’ll do everything we can to make your lives better. And I think Telethon makes us as a community in a world that is got a lot of things going on at the moment, Telethon makes us the most incredible amazing community in Western Australia so thank you.”

Telethon 2023: Roger Cook with the Telethon kids

Announcing a record State Government contribution of $12 million at his first Telethon as Premier, Roger Cook said he was proud to make a donation on behalf of “all West Australians”.

“Western Australians see division around the world. You see a lot of strife and you see a conflict. The one thing we can agree on is the importance of supporting sick and vulnerable kids in our community and Western Australians love getting behind that cause,” Mr Cook said on Sunday night.

“And you know, it is affecting everyone around Australia when they see it and they think ‘Western Australia what a special place. What a special community that they get behind these kids and for this amazing cause’.”

Barnes brought the curtain down on the record-breaking fundraiser, performing alongside his daughter Mahalia.

“It’s extra special to come and do Telethon,” the Scottish-born rocker said.

“It’s a great community thing that everybody gets together and all thinking about kids, I’m a parent and grandparent and anybody who’s had sick kids knows we need all the help we can get.”

Telethon 2023 Day 2 at RAC Arena Fat Cat performs Valerie Heston School of Dance on stage. Kelsey Reid

The final day of Telethon was full of fun-filled moments, including Fat Cat shaking his tail to a rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s September, alongside kids from the Valerie Heston School of Dance and SAS Australia’s Ant Middleton took part in plenty of push-up challenges.

Rove McManus was caught waiting for the winner of a Hyundai Kona, unable to bring a mum and daughter who had donated $50 to Telethon out of their Waterford home. After calling out to others the duo emerged, to be surprised with a new car.

Better Homes and Gardens icon Rob Palmer and TV star Tim Robards attempted to pull off a series of handstand party tricks, but the Little Telethon Stars stole the show — inspiring West Australians to dig deep.

Telethon 2023 Day 2 at RAC Arena Perth comedian Rove McManus ahead of the kids takeover.

Nicolas Cage may not have made the trip to Perth from the South West set of WA’s own Hollywood production — but he too was happy to help.

The star of the new thriller The Surfer, which is being filmed in Yallingup, Cage called in to make a personal donation of $5000.

Among Australia’s very own showbiz royalty, born-and-bred West Australian Rove McManus said it was an honour to help the fundraising marathon he grew up watching.

“It means a lot being here because growing up in Perth, Telethon is such an institution and such an amazing tradition that I’d always hope one day to be able to get to be part of Telethon. I was able to make my debut two years ago,” he said.

For other celebrities, it was an opportunity to catch a get their very first taste of Telethon.

SAS Australia’s Ant Middleton, who is from the UK, was inspired by all the positivity surrounding the huge fundraiser.

“It’s my first Telethon so it’s been absolutely manic but it’s just a ball of positivity,” he said.

“It’s important that we bring our energy and we try and keep as positive as possible, ultimately, raising funds for these magnificent children.”

Telethon 2023: Day 2 at RAC Arena SAS Australia's Ant Middleton in the phone room.

The Telethon Ball at Crown Towers on Saturday night, which is considered to be the most prestigious fundraising night in the country, raised an incredible $14.2 million, mostly from WA’s corporate sector.

The Telethon Home, donated by Home Group and Satterley, is also key to the marathon fundraiser with the sale of the home raising $1 million.


First published by The West Australian.