The Hobart

New Community Service Offering Cancer Respite

by Stephanie Williams
New Community Service Offering Cancer Respite

Jay Chapman’s own journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment was the catalyst for her to start Homely Retreats. It’s a growing Hobart not-for-profit providing a much needed service that fills a gap in respite services available to cancer patients and their families.

How did Homely Retreats come about? On December 16 2014, I was suddenly diag­nosed with Lymphoma (a form of blood cancer). As a wife and mother of two young boys (aged 4 and 12), our world fell into chaos overnight. The following day I began an in­tense regime of chemotherapy which meant I was admitted to hospital for 6 days every 21 days for the next 6 months. I missed my family so much and in between hospital stays, my husband (Dan) and I strug­gled to keep up the bills due to loss of income, the volume of specialist appointments, and day to day chores – even school drop off and pick up became a logistical nightmare. Dan became the only source of income for our family and the only adult well enough to perform the household duties. Life was really tough and I could feel our family dividing as we moved into a full on ‘coping’ stage. Fortunately by June 2015, I was given the ‘all clear’ and I began a long road to recovery. As I reflected on our family experience, I thought about what could have improved? I remembered when I began researching cancer support services and was met by voices on the end of the phone telling me that there was no respite available in Tasmania and a 3-5 year waiting list for services in Victoria and NSW. I was dev­astated. I thought ‘I could be dead by then.’ I decided that there needed to be a service that provided an experience where families could rest and reconnect.

So what did you do? In 2018 Homely Retreats was founded as a registered not-for-profit organisation and immediately began offering a compli­mentary weekend break to eligible Tasmanian families. The only eligibility criteria is that a parent is undergoing (or has undergone in the past 12 months) treatment for a cancer diagnosis whilst caring for dependents under the age of 18 years. In the two and a half years of service, Home­ly Retreats has positively impacted the lives of over 140 Tasmanians.

How does it work? We’re regularly in contact with staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Cancer Council Tasmania and The Leukaemia Foundation to educate staff about our services, who refer patients. Our service has a very simple application process because we understand that families are typically stressed, tired and in need of a break. Clients ap­ply through our website www. and once applications are verified, we work with the client what the family needs and would enjoy.

You started Homely Retreats because there was nothing like it during your own jour­ney – is this something the Tasmanian Health Service should be offering? Homely Retreats is currently exclusive­ly the only source of respite for Tasmanians affected by cancer. There is a sparse range of respite services across other mainland states, but as mentioned the waiting lists can be up to 5 years. Families applying for respite need sup­port now – they are applying because they need help. I believe the government could be offering a stronger mental health/family counselling support system for the families that we assist. I recall enquir­ing about counselling and was informed that I would need to seek help privately.

What are the benefits to families? We provide HOPE and time to reconnect the family to their greatest asset at this time…each other! Families who use our services always send a lovely message remarking how grateful they are that our service exists and how they used their weekend break as something to look forward to – a glimmer of hope. Giving the gift of family time – allowing families to take a break from the stress of their current situation to rest, reconnect and enjoy their time together making everlasting family memories – hence our hashtag bumper sticker #FAMILYTIMEMATTERS

Where does your funding come from? Homely Retreats is a publicly funded not-for-profit organisation. Our ser­vicing capacity is increasing by 23% each year, but the rate of applications is increasing by around 30%, meaning we currently have 27 families on our waiting list. The average cost of sending a family for a weekend of respite is $550. We apply for any available government grants and host a range of annual fundraisers as well – a major fundraiser raffle, our school’s Commu­nity Fundraiser Day (schools across the state dress in blue and raise funds), and sell a small range of merchandise on our website. We are extremely grateful for the support of the community which allows us to continue to offer our respite services in Tasmania.

How can readers help? The amazing Purdie family have recently purchased Abs By The Bay accommodation at Taranna on the Tasman Peninsula and have partnered with Homely Retreats. This has given us the opportunity to offer families extended periods of respite due to the heavily reduced costs. To keep our costs down and allow us to assist as many families as possible, we’re always seeking accommodation that is suitable for families as well as petrol, food and experiences. Contact us at info@homelyretreats. or www.homelyre­

Love this

Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
February 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!