I sincerely hope this communication finds you safe and well and coping positively with the day-to-day challenges of life under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patient Stories


There is no denying that Vincent has had a tough time over the past 15 months since arriving at Canberra's Centenary Hospital for Women and Children as a very sick two-month old baby suffering a blockage between his oesophagus and stomach.  Three major operations and countless procedures and doctor's visits later, it is hopeful that he is now finally on the way to recovery and will be well enough to travel home to the Solomon Islands in the next four to six weeks.  Provided his scheduled Gastroscopy, due to take place on 24th September, shows that the operation site has healed well and there is no significant narrowing of the oesophagus, his treating medical team of Professor Croaker and Dr Celine Hamid will agree to his discharge as a patient, and formally allow Vincent to return home.

One stumbling block is that flights to Honiara at present, due to Covid, are limited to one per month and as it won't be confirmed that Vincent is well enough to return home until his Gastroscopy at the end of September, he and his mother, Cosinta, are not guaranteed seats on the October flight. 

As shown in the photo, despite the torrid time that Vincent has had since arriving in Australia, he's grown into a very happy young boy and is always quick to smile.  We will all miss him when he returns home!


Cosinta and Vincent with Dr Hamid

Whilst attention has been focused on Vincent and his long road to recovery since arriving in Australia in July 2019, it is hard not to appreciate what his mother, Cosinta, has gone through during the past 15 months.
Cosinta was just 21 years old, and a new mother with a very sick baby when she arrived in Canberra.  Barely speaking any English and being separated from her extensive family and her friends in the Solomons, adjusting to life in Canberra was certainly challenging for her. 

Fortunately, the ROMAC team in Canberra consisting of District ROMAC Chair, Sandra Goldstraw and her husband Brian, along with Yvonne and Robyn, took Cosinta under their wing(s) and did their utmost to help her settle in.  Apart from a few nights at Ronald McDonald House whilst Vincent has been in hospital, Cosinta has been home-hosted by Sandra and Brian in the most part, or with Yvonne & Robyn's families when Sandra and Brian have been on holidays. 

As well as taking Vincent to his medical appointments and visiting him in hospital Sandra and her team organised get-togethers with representatives of the Solomon Islands High Commission, took her on picnics, shopping expeditions, to the movies and visits to art galleries.

On 31st August Cosinta turned 23 and the local ROMAC team sprung into action once again and organised some celebrations to make it a special day for her.  A luncheon at the local Gungahlin Golf Club on the Sunday was attended by friends from Solomon High Commission - Walter, Nancy, Helen and Florrie, together with Yvonne, Robyn, Brian and Prof Croaker's wife Helen (David was on call at the hospital).  That evening the Rotary Club of Gungahlin (who sponsors Vincent) held a social dinner and had a birthday cake (again!) for Cosinta.

Celebrating Cosinta's Birthday


Dulcia with ROMAC Ambassador, Rosie

Dulcia, a 13 year old from Dili in East Timor arrived in Australia accompanied by her 18 year old aunt, Dircea, in  2015. Dulcia had a diagnosis of severe spinal scoliosis which was causing her lung capacity to be compromised.

Dulcia was from a poor and very large family and was grossly undernourished weighing only 20 kilos on her arrival.

Spinal Surgeon Dr Rob Kuru agreed to operate, and this procedure took place at Newcastle Private Hospital. Johnson and Johnson provided all spinal prostheses and instrumentation free of charge.  Dulcia's low weight and poor nutrition was at first believed to be a problem, but her strong determination meant that at 3 days post operation she was walking and well on the way to recovery!  

ROMAC was very grateful to Dr Kuru and Newcastle Private hospital for donating their time and the facility to make a difference in Dulcia’s life.
We were also appreciative of a young Australian couple - who lived for many years in East Timor - for hosting the two girls, as they spoke no English and needed support and a warm, welcoming home. The Newcastle weather was cold and they were very homesick!   After 6 weeks of recuperation Dulcia returned to Dili with a straight spine and a lot heavier!
Both girls won the hearts of many Novacastrians, and they enjoyed being fussed over and spoilt.

Another great ROMAC success story!

Dulcia before and after surgery
Meet our Medical Director

Dr Larry Roddick

It is an absolute privilege to be the Australasian medical director for ROMAC.  I have been a consultant paediatrician in Newcastle for over 37 years with the first 20 in private practice, and the latter years as a staff paediatrician at the children’s hospital in Newcastle.

The role of the medical director, as well as being a member of the board, is to assess the referrals that ROMAC receives.  We prefer the referrals initially come from the ROMAC paediatricians (our medical consultants) in the neighbouring Pacific and Oceania countries (Timor Leste, PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu and The Solomons).  This consolidates a link with the child to the ROMAC (home country) paediatrician and hopefully leads to the child continuing to have contact with that doctor after returning home.  This will allow us to receive follow up information.

The ideal child for ROMAC to sponsor is one to whom we can give life changing surgery.  Cardiac and orthopaedic conditions predominate.  An example of the former is a child with a moderate size VSD (a “hole in the heart”) who would be expected to develop heart failure as a young adult but who will have a normal and  long life expectancy if the “hole” is closed at a young age.  An example of the latter is a child with talipes (a “club foot”) who is forced to crawl but can walk once the foot receives corrective surgery.

Our ROMAC medical team consists of the medical director, a medical advisor for all six Australasian ROMAC regions, the five medical consultants (as above) and, of course, the wonderful Australasian medical staff who generously give their time to ensure the lives of these children are enhanced by having corrective surgery.

However, we could not do this without the tremendous support ROMAC receives through the generosity of Rotarians and their clubs.  For this we thank you.

Annual Report 2019-20

The 2019-20 Annual Report is now available.  It can be downloaded from our website: www.romac.org.au. Our sincere thanks go to Communications Coordinator, Maggie Alexander for the production of the report.

Download Annual Report here
ROMAC Presentation



Has your club had a presentation on ROMAC recently?

If not, now is your opportunity!  We have a team of volunteers who are well prepared and willing to attend one of your club meetings - either in person or virtually - to give your members an update on ROMAC.  We have an excellent 10 minute video which we show as part of the presentation and this gives a comprehensive overview of how ROMAC operates.  This is followed by a few updates on patients and procedures and then the presenter answers any questions that may arise.  

If you would like to have a ROMAC volunteer present to your club, please contact ROMAC Chair, Harold Sharp and he will organise for the appropriate ROMAC volunteer to contact you regarding scheduling a date and time for the presentation.  Harold can be contacted on Email: harold.gina@bigpond.com or by mobile: 0411 044 691.

How you can help ROMAC

Become a ROMAC Friend

For just $100 annually, you can become a ROMAC Friend and help us to change
the lives of more children from the Oceania Region.   Download our brochure here.


Download ROMAC Friend Brochure
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