Grant Opportunity

The Humour Foundation
Bldg 2, Suite 2, GF, 20 Bridge Street
Pymble, NSW, 2073

Clown Doctors – Holiday Program at Bear Cottage -

MISSION STATEMENT: To be the leading Australian humour in health charity by promoting and delivering the positive health benefits of humour to the Australian community in a sustainable and effective manner. Our principle activities include raising funds to operate various programs designed to grow revenue to meet both short-term and long-term program and strategic needs.

BACKGROUND: The Humour Foundation was founded in 1997 by a general practitioner and a performer who wanted to give something back to the community in a unique and new way involving the ‘art of medicine’. Inspired by the pioneering work of other international charities and a meeting with Dr Patch Adams, the Clown Doctors program was created as an immediate way to deliver the health benefits of humour to those who needed it most – sick kids in hospital.

Humour therapy is an evidence-based practice, supported by International research, and underpins our program.
Laughter provides psychological and physiological benefits to health and well-being such as:
– positive effect on the cardiovascular and respiratory system (similar to exercise)
– relaxes muscles
– helps the immune system
– reduces pain and stress
– helps promote a positive outlook

PROGRAMS: Today The Humour Foundation delivers five key programs:

-Performance based – Our two core Arts and Health based Clown Doctors and Elder Clowns embrace our philosophy that ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ and operate in partnership with healthcare professionals across Australia in hospitals (24) and aged-care facilities (8) focusing on improving and enhancing the quality of life for sick kids and the elderly living with dementia. They provide over 250,000 tailored humour therapy engagements with patients/residents, their families and staff.
-Workshop based – Laughter Boss (training aged-care staff to bring humour into their workplace) Laughter Care (to empower and equip families of loved ones living with dementia) and Laughter Works (educational program targeting the business community about the benefits of humour and health).

Clown Doctors is provided free to hospitals. All other programs, are fee-for-service.

FUNDING: The Humour Foundation relies completely on the generosity of the community to sustain and develop programs. We do not receive government or hospital funding and actively seek support from diverse income streams (incl. corporate sponsorship, trusts & grants, individual giving, community events, appeals, investment into regular giving acquisition activity).

COMPLIANCE: We are a Public Benevolent Institution with ATO endorsements: TCC & DGR.

MANAGEMENT/STAFFING: Our Board of Directors (6) work closely with our Executive Management team to steer the organisation towards a sustainable future, adopting sound governance, policies and resources to advance our mission.
The Foundation employs 14 EFT staff, mostly in the Sydney Head Office (CEO, Fundraising/ Finance/Program teams & Administration). The Artistic Management team is based in Melbourne. We have 73 contracted professional performers nationally, to deliver our programs in facilities. 25+ volunteers assist with a variety of administration and fundraising activity.

  • Total Requested Amount
  • Total Raised From Donors
  • Remaining Goal

Project Details

Postcode where activity will take place: 2095

Start Date: 28/02/2019

End Date: 28/02/2020

Target Population:

  • Age Groups > Children (0-5)
  • Age Groups > Youth (6-25)

Field of Interest:

  • Health > Public Health
  • Arts and culture > Performing arts

Project Summary:

The Clown Doctors program is a testament to the growing need and recognition of how the Arts and Health practices can be integrated in facilities to benefit health & well-being of vulnerable patients.

Since 2002, the Clown Doctors program at Bear Cottage children’s hospice (Manly NSW), has helped enhance the emotional well-being of thousands of children with life-limiting conditions cared for at the facility, becoming an integral part of the therapeutic framework and support for sick kids and families.

Clown Doctors are medical clowns - highly trained professional performers who use humour therapy to help to alleviate some of the negative experiences of hospice life, bringing joy to children’s lives to enhance their health and well-being. Working alongside healthcare professionals, they address the psycho-social needs of vulnerable children in a unique way – by making them laugh in an environment that’s normally associated with anxiety, sadness, pain, fear and loneliness.

Our highly skilled performers are specially trained to work in sensitive settings with sick children, families, and medical staff. They can adapt to challenging situations and tailor their humour therapy to meet the individual needs of the patient and family they interact with. Clown Doctor performers are chosen for their performance skills, sensitivity, intuition, improvisation skills, compassion, playfulness and their ability to connect with people.

Performers like Dr Dotty and Dr Quack use humour and play to help make the hospice a less sad and intimidating place to be. Working in pairs, the Clown Doctors provide improvised engagements using their skills in music, mime, magic, song, dance and fun, to parody hospital routines, sending up intimidating jargon and procedures. They wear a red nose, carry colourful stethoscopes and a decorated white doctor’s coat with pockets big enough for props and fun – all part of enhancing quality of life, enhancing morale and coping, while remedying stressful environments and providing much needed distractions during times of serious illness, trauma, anxiety and fear.

An ACF grant would enable us to achieve our objectives for the program at Bear Cottage by:

1. Delivering 12 visits or ‘Clown Rounds’, by two Clown Doctors performers, during the school holidays for 12 months. ACF funds would directly contribute to 10 of these visits

2. Providing a high-quality, tailored humour therapy program that actively engages and supports the health and well-being of seriously sick children, families and hospice staff, delivering over 1,400 engagements pa – ACF funds contributing around 1,200 engagements.

3. Recruiting and training two local professional performers with a high level of skills and sensitivity, and equip them with the knowledge, skills and ongoing professional development to work with seriously sick children.

4. Ensuring robust monitoring and evaluation of the program using formal reports and informal feedback to maintain a rigorous quality assurance process

Project Outcomes:

For the children and families at Bear Cottage, the Clown Doctors bring colour to a grayscale world. Our humour therapy engagements enable seriously sick children to enter an imaginary world of fantasy and restored sense of childhood and play, to an often threatening and stressful and environment.

The program aims to improve the quality of life for sick children and their families at Bear Cottage, and in assist in their emotional healing, empowerment, treatment and recovery.

The expected outcomes of the program include:
- Relief of pain, fear, anxiety & stress experienced, particularly during long waiting times, treatments & therapy sessions
- Distractions while children undergo/prepare for painful/invasive procedures
- Helping to calm distressed children & encourage children during physiotherapy
- Creating effective diversion techniques, reducing consultation and treatment times
- Increasing efficiency in performing invasive procedures.
- Fostering a happy & positive atmosphere for patients, families and hospice staff
- Promoting a positive outlook & a feeling of well-being
- Improving mood and coping with sadness and stress
- Giving people cognitive control and nourishment
- Supporting & encouraging children & family members through challenging treatments & procedures
- Lift spirits and assist family members, to remain strong and positive

An integral part of the program is to monitor, measure and evaluate the Clown Doctors effectiveness and performance, to ensure a quality program is implemented at a high standard and outcomes achieved;
-Regular performance appraisals of each Clown Doctor by the Artistic Director and Professional Development Team to ensure thorough quality control of our offering.
-Regular timely reviews with the facility to ensure that their needs are heard, the program evolves to meet needs and the Clown Doctors are at their most effective within the hospital/hospice environment.
-Clown Doctors are briefed by hospice staff prior to each ‘Clown Round’ to identify any issues and be directed to children in need
-Post ‘Clown Round’ Clown Doctors complete a detailed de-briefing report of each session, recording the number of children and families that are reached, the depth of interaction, patient reactions/effects. This is collated, monitored and evaluated by Head Office.
-Informal feedback from children, parents, families, Clown Doctors and hospice staff through surveys, anecdotes, social media etc.
-Monthly reports are submitted to the Board of Directors for relevant and accurate program and strategic development.
-Performers attend the annual Clown Doctors conference where they participate in training and skills workshops with guest speakers and representatives from external/partner organisations.

Budget Details

Total Budget: $13,634


Income item Price ($)
Unconfirmed – ACF 11362
Confirmed – The Humour Foundation’s other fundraising activity (as outlined earlier) 2272


Expense item Price ($)
Program Management -auditions, hospital management, scheduling, communications 2360
Performance – fees for 2 prof. performers ($302 + 9.5% ea) to deliver 12 visits + insurance, props & mementos 8105
Professional Development & Training 1378
Monitoring & Evaluation – quality assurance, hospital reviews, team reviews, reporting 934
Essential administration 857

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