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Cancer Council Victoria statement on Federal Court finding on Belle Gibson case

Thursday 28 September, 2017


Cancer Council Victoria welcomes the Federal Court’s decision to fine Belle Gibson $410,000 for running unlawful fundraising appeals and falsely claiming she healed herself from terminal cancer. 

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the finding is a strong message to others who may consider misleading people into giving funds to a good cause, when it is not the case. 

“It is incredibly important that the general public has trust in charities and where their generously donated funds are being spent. I would encourage people do their research if there are any concerns around the legitimacy of a charity or a fundraiser.

“87 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer every day and it is disappointing that these funds will not fulfil the intended goal of supporting them.”

Mr Harper also said the actions of those who make claims about life-prolonging cancer treatment without evidence are preying on vulnerable people.

“Cancer Council welcomes Victoria’s new Health Complaints Act, which explicitly prohibits people offering health services from claiming that they are able to cure cancer or other terminal illnesses, and requires that any claims they make in relation to treating or alleviating the symptoms of cancer to be substantiated.”

Some complementary therapies, like yoga and massage, are generally safe for cancer patients if used under the supervision of their treatment team and may have benefits, however there any many that may in fact harm individuals. 

“There have been several high-profile examples of unscrupulous providers charging vulnerable people large sums of money for unproven and even dangerous treatments. We always encourage people to speak to their treating doctor before starting any new treatment,” Mr Harper said.  

“The same goes for so-called “wonder” diets or foods, like what Belle Gibson was falsely reporting led to her so-called ‘recovery’.” 

Cancer Council Victoria recommends eating a well-balanced diet that’s high in whole foods, especially for people who have cancer. 

“Our advice is to be wary of anyone who encourages you to eliminate many types of food or whole food groups from your diet. Always seek information from reputable sources and consult your doctor or dietitian first,” Mr Harper said. 

To speak to a cancer nurse for free information and support call Cancer Council 13 11 20.