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Danielle Cormack is training for a once in a lifetime experience: trekking the Kokoda Trail

Danielle Cormack is putting on her hiking boots for her next big role as a Kokoda Trail Trekker.

The award-winning actress, and long-time ChildFund Australia ambassador, says she’s looking forward to pushing her limits – and raising her step count – to help support children and their families in Papua New Guinea and beyond. 

“ChildFund Australia’s 2024 Kokoda Trek will be a new challenge – I’ve done a lot of walks rather than tackling a longer trek,” Danielle says. “I’ve done 100km in 26 hours, which was intense, but Kokoda will certainly be testing given that it’s longer and spaced out over more days.” Although the Wentworth and Underbelly star is under no illusion about the magnitude of the trek (150km through steep, rugged terrain and riverbeds), Danielle is taking it all in her stride, preferring to remain optimistic about the road ahead. 

“I’ll be honest, I haven’t started training yet,” she says “But I love being active, when possible walking is my number one mode of transportation. I’m relatively fit so I’m not too worried…famous last words!”

If anyone is up to the challenge, it’s Danielle. She’s a force to be reckoned with; not only does she have an appetite for adventure (she’s a longtime motorcyclist and Harley Davidson enthusiast) but has also built up a special kind of stamina that comes from years juggling multiple work commitments and time zones while filming television shows around Australia and abroad. 

Danielle says she tends to dive headfirst into projects and causes she’s passionate about. “It’s not in my nature to sit back and remain quiet, especially when it comes to the health and safety of children, and in turn their families or care givers” she explains. “No one should have to unnecessarily suffer. It’s human decency to help others in need – there is no hesitation, it just makes sense to me.” 

Danielle doesn’t shy away from confronting roles and situations, both onstage and offstage. Last year, she visited Moldova with ChildFund to meet and support Ukrainian mothers and children impacted by the war. She returned home to Australia to share their stories and advocate for aid for displaced families.

Part of my advocacy work, if possible, is to be on the ground and talk to the people that have been impacted and those delivering aid. As an ambassador it’s important to hear that first-hand, so I have a greater understanding of their situation to be able to relay their experiences.

Danielle Cormack

Danielle said the visit to Moldova’s refugee spaces was an eye-opening experience. “Speaking to the mums who are voraciously trying to protect their children, trying to shelter them from this terrifying displacement was certainly impactful and a reminder that they need support during these times. I was particularly moved by one boy who spoke to me about having to leave his home and how he wasn’t sure if he still had one. But he still had dreams of wanting to be a pilot. Hearing their stories, I just wanted to support these families as best I could.” 

“Part of my advocacy work, if possible, is to be on the ground and talk to the people that have been impacted and those delivering aid. As an ambassador it’s important to hear that first-hand, so I have a greater understanding of their situation to be able to relay their experiences.”

Next year, as ChildFund Australia’s ambassador, Danielle will be meeting mothers facing domestic violence in Papua New Guinea (PNG). For women in PNG, violence is part of everyday life with more than 80% affected by intimate partner violence. Danielle will visit ChildFund’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain call centres – Papua New Guinea’s first national telephone counselling service providing support to hundreds of people affected by family and sexual abuse and gender-based violence – and speak with survivors.

“I hope to raise awareness about the domestic issues for women in the area and see first-hand the amazing work ChildFund is doing,” she says. “I’m looking forward to hearing their stories.”

When it comes to gearing up for the trek, Danielle says she is taking it one day at a time and suggests her fellow trekkers do the same. “I really love walking and being in nature – it’s my happy place. But I know it can be daunting or a chore at first, so just start walking. It can be 10 minutes and then 12 minutes and then, before you know it, you’ve built up to three hours a day. Also, practise on hills.”

In the meantime, Danielle is focused on hitting her fundraising target and prepping for life on the trail. She’s already got her essential backpack items sorted (a water bottle, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, plasters, and headphones).

“This is an experience of a lifetime. I’m really excited to be taking part in this challenge and want to encourage people to join me on the trail or, if not, help support ChildFund’s programs and projects around the world in other ways.”

Watch this space!

Find out how you can join Danielle Cormack on the Kokoda Trail and help make a difference to children around the world here.

ChildFund ambassador Danielle Cormack in Cambodia, where she met children who received solar lamps and reading kits from Australian Gifts for Good donors.

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