The Kaden Centre in Warabrook has been offered a helping hand, enabling it to continue delivering services to those with cancer and chronic illnesses in the Hunter.

Photo source: Sharon Claydon

On May 10, Labor announced it would invest $1 million over four years to revitalise the Kaden Centre cancer exercise oncology clinic if elected.

Since its inception four years ago, the Kaden Centre has been the only one of its kind in Australia. 

The facility has helped just over 1200 people through its personalised exercise programs to optimise a patient’s fitness before definitive cancer treatment.

In February 2022, the Kaden Centre was forced to close due to funding issues.

Acting Managing Director of the Kaden Centre, Loukas Nadiotis, described the Labor announcement as “massive” for the facility and its clients.

“It means we can pick up where we left off and continue to run the programs that help people from a perioperative and rehabilitation perspective,” Nadiotis said.

“When things closed down, most of our programs dropped, and we were operating the centre under skeleton staff and helping existing clients one-on-one.

“So, we’re very excited to get back on board and make the service available again.”

Additionally, Nadiotis said support from several surgeons in the Hunter meant the Kaden Centre could take on more one-on-one appointments, despite its closure.

Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon, said the indefinite closure of Kaden Centre left the Newcastle and Hunter Region bereft of a “ground-breaking” and “world-class” facility.

Claydon said that under an Albanese Labor Government, the Kaden Centre would be able to continue its support of thousands more cancer patients on their pathway to recovery.

“The program has seen a 50 per cent reduction in major complications, shorter length of hospital stay, reduced readmissions and more patients returning to complete their intended oncological treatment,” Claydon said. 

Nadiotis said despite operating as a public facility, the centre had never received government funding despite multiple attempts.

Loukas Nadiotis is a physiotherapist at the Kaden Centre.

“The government has never supported the Kaden Centre – we were a charity that had to close down because we couldn’t fundraise, especially during the pandemic,” he said.

“We’ve been lobbying for government support for four years now, and fortunately, Labor has listened.”

Nadiotis said the Kaden Centre’s closure was devastating for staff and the clients benefiting from their work. 

“It was upsetting knowing we were going to close operations and stop servicing the people who needed it most … it was horrible not being able to assist our clients in that way.”

A petition supporting the clinic and its work amassed 13,000 signatures from residents in the Hunter and beyond. 

Sheryl Otway, who started the petition, said patients who attend the centre reported “better mental health, fewer side effects from treatments and faster recovery”.

One community member who signed the petition said they had attended the Kaden Centre while having chemotherapy, and the support provided was “fantastic”.

Another signee agreed and said their aunty and cousin used the centre during their battle with cancer.

“They have expressed the important role the centre played in their recovery,” the signee wrote.

“The support from people who understand and help navigate this cancer journey is indispensable.”

Aside from assisting residents impacted by cancer and other chronic illnesses, Nadiotis said that the Kaden Centre’s top priority was to ensure a more sustainable service model.

“The model will change so we don’t find ourselves in this position again if we can’t fundraise, be it another pandemic or a drop in the market or whatever it is,” Nadiotis said.

“We’re working toward setting up a sustainable model and providing exercise oncology with our online home program, which clients use throughout Australia.

“The announcement by Labor would go a long way to supporting that goal by allowing us to expand our operations into a more sustainable model.”

Nadiotis said the Kaden Centre would attempt to reopen its doors via fundraising if the government funding did not come through.  

“At this stage, the plan is to continue running operations as best we can … the money from Labor would go a long way in helping us achieve our purpose,” Nadiotis said.

“It’ll have a massive impact on us if Labor doesn’t get elected, but we’ll be looking at running programs and exercise oncology as best we can and then make up the surplus via fundraising.”

While pre-polling has opened across Australia, most residents are expected to cast their party preferences at the ballot box on May 21.

In the meantime, the Kaden Centre is offering one-on-one client services to improve the lives of those who have cancer and other chronic illnesses—bookings are essential.

Maia O’Connor