Ronald McDonald House, South Brisbane, Australia

Empathy builds the largest Ronald McDonald House in Australia

Ronald McDonald House Charities is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Its mission is to create, find, and support programmes that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Ronald McDonald House facilities provide a sanctuary for families a long way from home. Their communal spaces help families interact and support each other during times of need.

With the closure of the Royal Children’s Hospital and the completion of the Queensland Children's Hospital in South Brisbane in December 2014, the focus quickly shifted to the demand for nearby accommodation for the families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and the Mater Mothers’ Hospital. In response, Ronald McDonald House envisioned the need for a new purpose-built “home away from home” for families at their most vulnerable, close to these locations.

Aurecon delivered project management services to construct an AUD 35 million, eight-level, 84-room Ronald McDonald House (RMH) South Brisbane facility – the largest in Australia.

A key objective for the residential sanctuary was to encourage guest families to offer comfort, mutual support and hope to one another, while their children endure serious illness and undergo medical treatment.

The Aurecon team was presented with the challenge to deliver within a highly congested, inner-city medical precinct with planning restrictions, and to focus on the health and wellbeing of children and their families.

There was an immense opportunity for Aurecon to add genuine value to Ronald McDonald House, but the challenges were significant. As the surrounding buildings significantly inhibited the space, the challenge to construct anything on a grand scale was comparable to keyhole surgery.

Empathetic communication overcame project challenges by coaching the project partners to support the client’s decision-makers by gaining a detailed understanding of Ronald McDonald Houses, their users, staff and volunteers.

Aurecon facilitated this by establishing a series of site liaison meetings to provide direct contact between the project partners and Ronald McDonald House South Brisbane key stakeholders. This forum led to a shared understanding of the unique issues faced by the client and their stakeholders.

Trust, collaboration, and camaraderie brought the project together. The project partners learnt how to better engage and communicate, to be more effective and efficient in decision-making. This process developed respect and trust throughout the project and turned challenges into collaboration opportunities.

In October 2016, the first families arrived at the Ronald McDonald House in South Brisbane, which served as their temporary “home away from home”. The facility is instilled with the hope and comfort that guest families from outlying areas of Queensland and Northern NSW need – especially in distressing times.


The project has won the following awards:

  • Winner: Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) – National Awards 2017 – Community Service and/or Development
  • Winner: Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) – Queensland Division Awards 2017 – Community Service and/or Development

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