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What do we fear most as parents? It would be fair to say that it is the health and safety of our children. For many families this fear becomes a reality when they receive a diagnosis of brain cancer.

Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is the worst brain cancer, typically affecting children of primary school age, with no curative treatment and therefore no survivors. DIPG is a debilitating disease, reducing their quality of life very quickly as nerves are progressively damaged by the tumour in the brainstem.

The Isabella and Marcus Foundation was established in 2010 and has been funding research to develop treatments for DIPG. We are getting closer to this goal but we need to do much more. The Upstream Challenge funds PhD scholarships to get young, eager science graduates into labs to study DIPG. Research is the key to developing treatments.

Children should not be dying from brain cancer in 2022. These kids need our help. Their families need hope. Together we can do something about it.

In Australia, it is estimated that 45% of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime - Beyond Blue. And with 9 lives lost to suicide every day, suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 - Lifeline. Stigma surrounding mental health is silencing many, however the above statistics that leaves a devastating effect on individuals, families, and communities, speaks louder than words.

Let’sTALK believes that a simple conversation can be the difference between an end and a beginning. A conversation that starts at home and then at school, at work and in our community. A conversation about mental health that should be encouraged and promoted as early as possible. Let’sTALK is an early intervention and preventative program that encourages everyone to talk about their concerns before they escalate to bigger issues including mental illness and even suicide.

An 18-month study at Mount Pleasant Road Primary School in Nunawading showed that its school connectedness increased from 78% to 89% after the Let’sTALK Program was implemented; and even during the pandemic. In schools, staff and students are trained to be Let’sTALK Mentors and Buddies to see the tell-tale signs at the outset and provide support before a situation escalates.

In 2022 we plan to implement the Let’sTALK Program in 10 Primary and Secondary Schools in Victoria. The cost for this 12-month Program is $10,000 per school.

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For over 2,000 years, tens of thousands of girls in India have been illegally forced into ritualised sex slavery.

Girls as young as 5 or 6 become the ‘property of the village’ and, after reaching puberty, are trapped in a life of sexual servitude and abuse.

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 of these women and girls. Sexually transmitted diseases and ill-health are rife, mental health issues are rampant and dignity is non-existent. They are stigmatised and abused physically, sexually, emotionally, and financially. Most are illiterate, struggle with substance abuse and live in extreme poverty.

The practice was banned in 1988 but continues to this day.

Our holistic approach identifies vulnerable girls and works to prevent them entering this abusive system. National team members provide healthcare and economic empowerment. At-risk girls are cared for in safety. Through education and lobbying at grassroots and government level we see fewer girls entering this lifestyle in the 270 villages where we have workers. Our next goal is to expand to 300 villages.

Every increment of $1,800 enables us to work in a village for a year.

Our goal is to see the practice completely abolished in the next 10 years.

Money raised through the Upstream Challenge will help us work towards this goal, as we remain working in the current villages, and hopefully expand into new ones. Will you help?