The new Ronald McDonald House at South Brisbane.
The new Ronald McDonald House at South Brisbane. Contributed

Families get a new home away from home

BRISBANE'S Ronald McDonald House helped 1620 families in 2015, most of them from regional areas.

On November 5, a new 70-room house that has the capacity to extend to 112 rooms - the biggest in the country - will officially open in South Brisbane.

It is expected the new building will accommodate 50 more families than the previous house.

Conversations about building the new $36 million house began about eight years ago, to keep up with demand.

The project was funded through a mix of donations from communities, individuals, governments and corporate sponsors but as they were not able to reach the capital campaign target, construction stopped once 70 rooms were built and the remaining three floors were shelled.

Two families who have stayed for years at the old Brisbane Ronald McDonald House - and who got to check out the new facilities last month - said their home away from home meant everything to them.

"Without these guys, honestly, we wouldn't have our family,” Kingaroy mum Tyanah Williams said.

"We'd be living in a hospital on a bed.”

Whitsunday mum Kylie Tame said Ronald McDonald House was their second home and saved them from having to worry about accommodation when they were already suffering financial strain.

"Basically for these kids, they're in and out of hospitals so something that is normal for them that you can maintain is a good thing,” she said. "To not have a Ronald McDonald House is something that you don't want to think about.”

This is why Kylie said she organised a ball in the Whitsundays every year to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses - to give something back.

Last year, the majority of families who stayed at Ronald McDonald House were from the Wide Bay region; 370 families from this area stayed at the house, which was 22% of the total visitors.