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COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
03/06/2010
HEALTH AND AGEING PORTFOLIO
Cancer Australia

Senator ADAMS —Firstly, when Cancer Australia first started they had groups of different organisations involved in cancer. As you have moved on through the years of Cancer Australia being established, have you had any new organisations associated with cancer join or become involved with Cancer Australia?

Dr Ramadge —We continually look to engage a range of organisations in cancer control across Australia. Depending on the work we do, we do engage with different agencies at different times. Many of the agencies and organisations that we began to work with when we were established we continue to work with, particularly the Cancer Councils. But as our work has evolved and as we have gained new programs, we have engaged more and different organisations. For instance, with the lung program that we now have that was founded in the 2009-10 budget we have started to work with the Australian Lung Foundation, whom we had not been working with at the beginning. So it really depends on the work we are doing. All I can say is that we continue to grow in terms of our partnerships and the collaborations. In our research program our partnerships have increased. We now have 11 partners in that program. In the consumer grants program there are now eight partners whereas we started with none and gradually built that up.

Senator ADAMS —Have you extended or expanded the membership of your consumer advisory committee or just kept it the same?

Dr Ramadge —Our advisory group has stayed at the same number of members, but the number of consumers whom we have recruited to work with Cancer Australia has increased. That has increased to 50 now. We have in the last month had a workshop for new consumers to work with Cancer Australia. There were 29 new consumers at that workshop.

Senator ADAMS —Do those consumers apply? Do you advertise the position?

Dr Ramadge —Yes we do. There are three methods that we use. One of them is to advertise in the paper. Another is to go to consumer organisations and seek nominations. The other method is through direct sourcing of people we know have expressed an interest through our website or other means. Then there is a selection panel. People who are interested put in an application and then there is a selection panel to work through those applications and identify the people who will become part of the work that we do.

Senator ADAMS —I notice that you have more funding allocated this year to work with consumers. Could you just tell us what you think you are going to do in that respect?

Dr Ramadge —It is the same amount of money but it is continuing.

Senator ADAMS —It is continuing. That is probably an important thing.

Dr Ramadge —The consumer grants program will continue. There are two parts to that grants program. One of them is in partnership with the cancer councils and other organisations to build sustainability into those support groups and the work that those partnerships engage in. The other part is directly to organisations that might apply. The other part of that work is supporting the work of ACT Online, which will be a consumer portal that defines, categorises and explains clinical trials to consumers. So it will be a portal specifically around clinical trials that are occurring. It will be continually updated and it will be specifically for consumers so they can look on that portal to identify any clinical trials that they might be interested in or to find out more about a clinical trial that their doctor may have mentioned to them.

Senator ADAMS —Could you just explain what the CanNET program does please?

Dr Ramadge —That started when we were established essentially. The measure started before we were established, it transferred to Cancer Australia and we initiated the CanNET project. That is a partnership with each jurisdiction to establish formal links between regional cancer services and metropolitan services. It is underpinned by a number of principles that were developed through the managed clinical networks in the UK that have proved very successful. So there is a strong evidence base to support that work. Essentially it is to provide quality and effective cancer services in regional areas for people from those areas. As I said, each jurisdiction has been participating in that and in this last budget the allocation was continued. So we have resumed that work with each of the jurisdictions to build on the initial work that they started.

Each project in the jurisdictions is slightly different, but they are each based on the principles that underpin that work. For instance, in Western Australia in that first round they sought to improve the links between Albany and Perth. So they just focused solely on Albany. As a result of the 2½ years initial work in CanNET, they are actually developed very strong formal links with Perth which they had not had before. Their clinicians in Albany were much better supported by their specialists in Perth. There was access to multidisciplinary teams in Perth that had not happened before and the evaluation demonstrated there was a 30 per cent less travel for patients for chemotherapy services from the other the region. Western Australia focused solely on that area to build a strong model that worked and in doing so they then had the intention of rolling it out to other regional areas, which they are starting to do now. So that was just an example of—

Senator ADAMS —Yes, thanks for that. That is very close to where I come from so I did know about that, thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you, Dr Ramadge.

[3.51 pm]