Statement from Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper
Cancer Council Victoria is thrilled that Dorothy Reading - who played a major role in establishing successful cancer prevention programs such as Quit, PapScreen Victoria, and BreastScreen Victoria - has been recognised in this year's Australia Day honours list.
Dorothy has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division for her outstanding leadership in cancer control over more than three decades. Dorothy never sought personal recognition, but worked very effectively behind the scenes to build programs and negotiate reforms that continue to deliver lasting benefits for the health of all Australians.
Dorothy's surname will be familiar to many book lovers - she co-founded the successful Readings bookshop in Carlton before a career change led her to Cancer Council Victoria. She began work in 1986 as coordinator of the Council's smoking prevention program, Quit Victoria. It was a pioneering role and with a high degree of creativity and professionalism, Dorothy built the foundations of one of the world's leading tobacco control programs.
During her time at Quit, Dorothy was among a key group of experts who achieved a major reform in Victoria - the end of tobacco promotions on billboards and outside shops. The change was adopted nationally and internationally, and later extended to other forms of tobacco advertising and promotion. Dorothy's work was crucial in achieving community and political support for Victoria's landmark Tobacco Act of 1987, and the establishment of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).
Dorothy did not stop there. She turned her considerable talents to building other cancer prevention programs including BreastScreen Victoria, PapScreen Victoria and SunSmart. Dorothy served on the board of BreastScreen Victoria for 19 years, and a similar period on the board of the Victorian Cytology Service. She chaired Cancer Council Australia's public health committee for six years and led development of its comprehensive National Cancer Prevention Policy.
It's remarkable to think about the changes that have occurred since Dorothy began her work in cancer control. Smoking rates have more than halved - in 1985, 32 per cent of Victorians were regular smokers, compared to about 13 per cent today. Across Australia, the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer has halved since the introduction of organised screening in 1991. At Cancer Council Victoria, we are delighted to see Dorothy's achievements honoured and we are proud to carry on her work to prevent cancer and save lives.