Change makers: Mandy Mandie

Image of face

Amanda Mandie (AKA Mandy Mandie) and her son, Nick founded Koala Kids in 2005, a volunteer-driven program with a mission to provide small, engaging resources and activities for children and young people undergoing cancer treatment and their families.

13 June 2023

Changing Lives in Our Communities

From novelty Band-Aids and toy cars to creative and comforting outlets such as colouring, painting, and decorating, Koala Kids offers happy moments to thousands of individuals during challenging and invasive treatments across more than 26 hospitals and family support facilities around Melbourne and Victoria. 

Please tell us about your personal journey towards the launch of Koala Kids.

I feel as if I’ve spent most of my life in and around philanthropic circles. My mother was always involved in charities, and I have similarly encouraged my own children to give for the greater good. Following careers as a journalist, event manager, public relations executive and various roles in marketing and fundraising, I started my voluntary philanthropic journey to add more meaning to my life after my own mental health challenges, which led me to be a founding member of such organisations as Snowdome Foundation, End UCD, and Koala Kids.

What drives your mission on a daily basis?

I was born with a natural empathy for people, and I believe it’s a privilege to spend my time volunteering. These families let us in at such a stressful time when they feel like their lives are in free fall, caring for their child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and having to watch them endure potentially life-changing treatment.

Introducing and connecting like-minded people has been a major part of my life, in particular my philanthropic journey….. I like to think of myself as a connector, rather than a networker!

Who do you personally look up to for inspiration or mentorship?

Lyn Swinburne founded the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mum. Lyn and I met when we were both involved with Snowdome Foundation, and she is one very special person. I love her wisdom and quiet energy to do good. Lyn calls it as it is and is definitely someone I look up to.

There are many philanthropic people who are special to me, and I love learning from them. I am also grateful for the mentoring relationships I have developed with other volunteers, particularly young people interested in pursuing voluntary work.

Image of child

What does it mean to you to be a leader in the community?

I don’t see myself as a leader in the community as such, but I am proud to be the piece in the middle of the Koala Kids puzzle to be able to impact the lives of both our volunteers and the families in our network. It’s never been about me; it’s always been ‘we’ and ‘us’. It’s about connecting different people to bring happiness to other people who need it.

Personally, I love volunteering for the feeling of self-satisfaction and seeing my initiatives, enthusiasm, and energy benefiting others less fortunate.

What is one thing that makes you most proud?

Two things: I am proudest when my children are happy, and when I think and talk about what we achieve at Koala Kids Foundation.

In January 2021, I was honoured with an OAM in the Australia Day Honours for my dedication to charitable causes. Receiving this recognition was a special moment as I reconnected with people I hadn’t been in touch with for years. The excitement and support I received from friends, acquaintances, and the community made me immensely proud.

This achievement was not just about me, but a testament to the work done by everyone involved in Koala Kids.

Discover more

Image of logo