Tony McGinn OAM leaves the Foundation

A champion for paediatric cancer in Victoria

After twenty years successfully championing the progress of paediatric oncology in Victoria, Tony McGinn OAM is retiring from his position as Director and Deputy Chairman of the Foundation.

In honour of his outstanding legacy of work, this special tribute from a collective of friends and family past and present, remembers Tony's significant achievements.

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith, Foundation Chairman

"It is difficult to do justice to the enormity of Tony McGinn’s contribution to the childhood cancer cause. It will endure for decades to come. 

When Tony and Amanda McGinn’s son Ben was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2000, Tony quickly identified a role for parents both in advocating for the interests of children with cancer and raising funds to ensure better resources and facilities. 

Tony was a driving force behind KOALA Foundation, which was established by parents of children treated in the Children’s Cancer Centre at Monash Medical Centre. 

In 2005, Tony and a committee inspired by him founded The Million Dollar Lunch and raised in excess of $1 million for the cause in a single afternoon. In the period from 2005 to 2014, Tony led The Million Dollar Lunch committee with boundless energy and creativity, raising in excess of $10 million in the process. 

In 2012, Tony was instrumental in the merger of KOALA Foundation with the Children’s Cancer Centre Foundation, and became a director and deputy chairman of the merged entity, the Children’s Cancer Foundation. 

In June this year, Tony retired as a director and deputy chairman of the Foundation. 

During Tony’s two decades of service, the Foundation and its predecessors have funded over $56m in programs for the benefit of children with cancer in clinical research, clinical care, clinical trials and family support. Many of those achievements were only possible because of Tony’s efforts, particularly through The Million Dollar Lunch, which is the most vivid expression of Tony’s legacy. However, Tony has not only been a formidable fundraiser. He has been an outstanding director and a fearless advocate for patients and their families. 

Please join the Foundation in thanking Tony, Amanda, Ben and Nick for their remarkable legacy."


Andrea Diprose

Andrea Diprose, former Foundation Director and Grants Committee Member

"I met Tony at Monash Medical Centre in 1998 when Ben started chemotherapy. My son Stephen had completed his 2 years of treatment and was doing well. It didn’t take long for Tony to recognise that the Paediatric Oncology Department at Monash was under-resourced. He joined the KOALA committee and started focusing the members’ efforts on improving the conditions for our children.

I was grateful to have someone on the team with a bold vision of what could be achieved while helping me achieve an inclusive group culture where everybody’s contribution was valuable. Tony was the driving force of a Monash Medical Centre sub-committee. Through persistence and appealing to the Victorian Government, a new Paediatric Day Oncology Centre was built and resourced. This improved the journey for patients and their families thereafter by providing more efficient service and minimising overnight stays in the hospital ward.

Tony and Amanda were incredibly supportive of my family when our son relapsed. Tony was, meanwhile, inaugurating the KOALA Foundation, which would ultimately set the bar very high for advocacy in the Paediatric Oncology sphere, with the trademarked Million Dollar Lunch.

I have long admired Tony’s helicopter view of any situation and his ability to find solutions rather than problems or hindrances. It has been an absolute pleasure seeing Ben and Nick as adults with a great social conscience. Congratulations, Tony, on 20 years of dedication and inspiration."


Ben and Tony McGinn

Ben McGinn, son and childhood cancer survivor

"I am extremely proud of what my father has achieved over the last 20 years of active involvement in children’s cancer in Australia. He was my rock every night by my bedside on a cold hospital floor during my cancer joinery back in 2000, always there to make me laugh and give me strength. I am so proud to know that over 20 years he has helped other children, just like me get the support they needed in their darkest hours. Dad, I will be forever grateful for what you did for me, forever sharing your legacy and forever aspiring to mirror your enormous achievements for childhood cancer in Australia. THANK YOU!"


Video-play-button-48px.png Watch Ben's tribute to his father, Tony McGinn.


 Amanda MandieAmanda (Mandy) Mandie, Program Director, Koala Kids Foundation

"I first met Tony when I was convening a fundraising event at our children’s school.

My husband Stephen and I had attended the first Million Dollar Lunch and I had been extremely moved and inspired by the then Koala Foundation and its mission. I later contacted Tony after my son Nick’s bar mitzvah when he was looking to support a charity with the money he received. Tony suggested supporting adolescent siblings of kids with cancer, and that we run a program as part of the Koala Foundation with their support in finance and governance.

We hit lots of brick walls in our initial ideas before identifying an untapped niche in providing small but necessary things to help children on cancer wards - and Koala Kids was born.

Tony was our guiding light in the early days and we have every reason to thank him for helping us establish Koala Kids to become the force that it is today.

Tony is a gentle giant with a big personality, a huge heart and endless ideas that have helped us grow. Although our businesses parted ways in 2015 we still speak regularly and have grown a very special bond over the years.

Tony is a great conversationalist and listener. His passion for everything he does is commendable as is the way he used his family's experience - Ben's cancer - to inspire, create and grow something that has changed the face of paediatric cancer in Victoria.

On behalf of Koala Kids volunteers, Stephen, Nick, Daniella and myself, I warmly congratulate Tony on everything he and Children’s Cancer Foundation have achieved over the past nearly 20 years and know that many of the seeds he has sewn will impact families and cancer treatment for many years to come."

Tony McGinn photo collage