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Thursday, 16 February 2006
Page: 3

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) (9:11 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The establishment of Cancer Australia as a new national agency delivers on the government’s 2004 election commitment. The government will provide a total of $13.7 million over five years to establish this new agency.

It will be an umbrella organisation for various cancer groups to provide leadership and vision, support to consumers and health professionals and make recommendations to the government about cancer policy and priorities. This should mean more research funding for cancer care, better support for those living with cancer, strengthened palliative care services, guidance in improvements in the prevention of cancer and better support for cancer professionals.

In addition, Cancer Australia will have a role in the implementation of the following initiatives which are part of the 2004 Strengthening Cancer Care election policy:

  • new approaches to mentoring regional cancer services;
  • a grants process targeted at building cancer support groups;
  • a national awareness campaign for skin cancer, to be developed in conjunction with state and territory governments;
  • a new dedicated budget for research into cancer, to be administered in conjunction with the National Health and Medical Research Council; and
  • funding for clinical trials infrastructure for cancer patients.

Cancer Australia is being established in consultation with national and state cancer councils, other cancer organisations and people living with cancer. The national priorities and strategies for the development of Cancer Australia came from a workshop of key cancer stakeholders in March last year. Cancer organisations have shown strong support for the development of Cancer Australia, to increase collaboration and to reduce duplication in cancer control.

This bill establishes Cancer Australia as a new statutory agency. It outlines the functions of Cancer Australia and includes the terms of appointment and roles of the CEO, support staff and the advisory council.

The new agency will comprise a chief executive officer (CEO), advisory council and support staff. The CEO will head the agency and will report to the Minister for Health and Ageing. The advisory council will advise the CEO and will consist of a chair and a maximum of 12 other members.

The chair of the advisory council, Dr Bill Glasson, former President of the Australian Medical Association, has been appointed. The position of CEO has been advertised nationally with applications closing this month.

In addition to government funding, it is expected that Cancer Australia will seek funding from other sources, particularly from the private sector.

An important first step in developing Cancer Australia’s role will be to map the current roles and responsibilities of various organisations in cancer policy and to determine these future roles.

I look forward to Cancer Australia making an important contribution to improving cancer care in this country in the years ahead.

I commend this bill to the House and present a copy of the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.