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New Zealand based charities are delivering world-class, life-saving services, not just locally but throughout the Pacific. DLA Piper's New Zealand Pro Bono Director, Melissa Johnston, gives us insight into two of New Zealand's amazing foundations who are changing the lives of our children, families and communities both here and across the Pacific. "As a global firm we donate over 200,000 hours to pro bono initiatives every year, working with some of the largest non-profits in the world on significant projects that change the lives of thousands of people. But it’s the local projects in New Zealand and the Pacific that we are most proud of", says Melissa.

Georgia Cottrell's Family Quinoa Farm

The Fred Hollows Foundation

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ works tirelessly to continue to achieve the vision of the Late Professor Fred Hollows of a world where no-one is needlessly blind. Sadly, despite all the work done around the world – globally 4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be.

Losing eyesight is not only losing the ability to see – it can be the loss of independence, the loss of income and it can have a severe impact on families, communities and economies. It is estimated tens of thousands in the Pacific are blind and don’t need to be – their conditions are preventable and treatable. But in many parts of the Pacific, people have no access to eye care services. Eye conditions like cataracts and diabetes eye disease all go untreated. This leads to avoidable vision loss and blindness.

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ works to eliminate avoidable blindness in the Pacific by making eye care accessible for all. Central to the Foundations sustainable approach is their commitment to developing a local Pacific eye care workforce who go back to their home country to provide specialist eye care. Until there is enough in-country support – the Foundation’s Medical Outreach teams travel around the Pacific to provide eye care services.

Last year alone, throughout the Pacific, Foundation-trained eye doctors and nurses held close to 100,000 consultations and performed over 6,500 sight-saving surgeries.

Starship Foundation

The Starship Foundation is focussed on investing in impactful programmes designed to bring better health and brighter futures to all New Zealand children.

Starship has a number of specialty services not provided anywhere else in the country which means children are brought from around New Zealand for treatment. Starship is the sole provider of cardiology and cardiac surgical services for infants and children in New Zealand and parts of the Pacific Basin.

Starship’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the only national service for children requiring intensive care for longer than 24 hours and more than 50% of children admitted to PICU are from outside the greater Auckland region. Starship also has teams working across medical specialities including gastroenterology, respiratory, endocrinology and metabolic who care for children from around the country with complex and serious medical conditions.

Perhaps less well known is that Starship delivers care and support to New Zealand children around the country either closer to home, or within the home. This happens through regional and community programmes like Starship Outreach Clinics, the Telehealth phone service, on-call clinicians, National Clinical Guidelines, simulation training and Safekids home safety advocacy. With support from the Starship Foundation, the Starship National Air Ambulance Service flies top medical experts to life-threatening emergencies around the country.

In 2018 the service flew more than 180 retrieval missions to almost every region in New Zealand. Since 1992, through the generosity of individual donors, organisations, trusts and foundations, the Starship Foundation has invested more than $135 million into Starship, making a real difference to New Zealand children every day.

Pro bono support helps

For organisations like The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ and Starship Foundation, pro bono legal support helps them to focus on what they do best - delivering the best possible results for their patients.

DLA Piper has proudly supported The Fred Hollow Foundation NZ for 10 years and the Starship Foundation for over 25 years. "We have long regarded pro bono as an important aspect of our lawyers' professional responsibility and development. Pro bono is a way of giving back to the community. It is a privilege to share the skills and knowledge we have as lawyers to support the betterment of all", says Melissa.

Help change lives by getting involved

If you are interested in partnering with DLA Piper on pro bono or community care projects, reach out to Melissa Johnston.


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Part 12