Livewire is a social networking site with a difference. It is addressed towards young Australians living with chronic ailments.
Meant for young people (aged over 10 and under 21 years) living with a serious illness, chronic condition or disability, Livewire is a supportive place for them to share their experiences and realise that they are not alone in their situation. They can also entertain themselves with games and other content.
It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Starlight Children's Foundation and is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks Program.
More than 450,000 young Australians live with serious health issues and, after having to miss school, sport and other social activities, are left feeling isolated.
"It's pretty fun and I'm sure I'll be using it quite a lot," Nicholas said as he was nearing the end of his six-hour transfusion yesterday.
Livewire managing director Omar Khalifa says the site's goal is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children.
"The site helps them to communicate with family and friends while they are away and to increase their own emotional well-being," he said.
Adolescents go through a lot of change on their lives between the ages of 10-21 and that is really the target for us at Livewire."
Cinnamon Pollard, Livewire marketing and partnership director, says the site offers more than just a way to socialise.
"Livewire offers what we call a moderated environment. Chat hosts are young and educated in adolescent health issues with most coming from teaching and social work and social support backgrounds."
Apart from setting up the site, Livewire has also installed wireless networks to connect patients in hospitals including Randwick, Canberra and Westmead.
The site will be open to children who have written permission from their parents but will also have sections for siblings and parents to address any needs and concerns they might have about their respective situations.
"If you're very sick and bedridden or housebound then you also lack self determination because people are always doing things for you," Ms Pollard said.
"To lack self determination at that time of your life has a massive impact on your social and emotional wellbeing."
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today said the site would help alleviate the isolation felt by young people with a chronic illness.
"Livewire helps young people to stay in touch with those they love, and to connect and gain support from others who share a similar situation," he said.
"I feel strongly that this pioneering online community will help bring a sense of normality and stability to many otherwise disrupted lives."