2019 Annual Review

Message from the CEO

With the impact of the bushfire crisis and the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the first part of 2020, it’s never been clearer that we need to be there for eachother in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Our support services have been needed more than ever. Thanks to the generosity of the Victorian people, we have been able to continue providing support services for those who have needed them most. Services like our cancer nurses on our 13 11 20 information and support line and our Quitline service, assisting those wanting/trying to quit smoking.

Thank you for helping to make this possible.

Our 2019 Annual Review is a showcase of the impact that was achieved with your help in 2019, before these events took hold. I want to thank all our supporters, volunteers, employees and stakeholders for the commitment and passion you’ve all shown.

Looking back, we can see what can be achieved together in terms of increasing participation in screening programs, educating the community about the links between alcohol and obesity to cancer, and the research that is being done to help save more lives. Our support services helped so many Victorians, and we consulted with people across the state on the biggest cancer control issues to help inform our submission to the next Victorian Cancer Plan.

While we face upheaval with the current challenges, we are looking to the future, determined to be there for all Victorians who need us to help them through a cancer experience, to discover more so we can prevent cancer, and to keep on investing in research so survival continues to improve.

Todd Harper
Cancer Council Victoria

Cancer in Victoria

A person is diagnosed with cancer every 15 minutes – that’s 96 a day.

11,000 Victorians die of cancer each year.

But survival is increasing… 69% of people now survive five years or more after a diagnosis.

In 2019 we spent:

$29.1 million on
cancer research

$20.1 million on
preventing cancer

$6.9 million on
supporting Victorians with cancer

What you helped us achieve in 2019

As part of our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan we have committed to four goals to achieve our mission of preventing cancer, empowering patients and saving lives.

Goal one: Implement powerful cancer prevention programs for major cancer risk factors: tobacco, UV, diet, obesity and alcohol

More than 6,700 lives were saved in 2019 thanks to improvements in treatments and the work of prevention programs including our Quit, SunSmart and healthy lifestyle campaigns.

Graphic campaign shows risk of alcohol

Graphic campaign shows risk of alcohol

Cancer Council Victoria will run more awareness campaigns about the link between alcohol and cancer in the coming years, following the success of its Drink Less, Live More campaign in 2019.

The graphic Drink Less, Live More campaign outlined how alcohol makes its way through the body, damaging the healthy cells it passes along the way, to help Australians make more informed decisions about what they drink.

Alcohol is linked to more than 3,400 cancer cases every year in Australia and approximately 770,000 worldwide.

It is known to cause cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus, bowel, liver and female breast.

But only 19% of Australians are aware of the link between breast cancer and alcohol and 23% of people are aware of the link between mouth cancer and alcohol.

Cancer Council Victoria Alcohol Program Manager Jane Martin said far more needed to be done to ensure people were aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.

“The big alcohol companies are very good at creating a facade of alcohol as glamorous, making us believe that having a drink with friends will make any event more fun,” she said.

“But the reality is quite the opposite. More than just a headache or a hangover the next day, this damage can have very real and long-term consequences.

“It’s appalling that, much like the tobacco companies did 60 years ago, the big alcohol companies are keeping the public in the dark about the long-term health impacts of their products.”

Every 375ml stubby includes 17ml, or half a shot wof ethanol – the same harmful substance we use to fuel our cars – while a 150ml glass of wine has about 19ml, or just over half a shot of ethanol. This ingredient is changed by the body into acetaldehyde that damages DNA and may stop the cells from repairing, leading to cancer.

“We need more hard-hitting campaigns like Drink Less, Live More to ensure people know the reality of the health impacts associated with alcohol and have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about what they’re putting into their bodies,” Martin said.

The Drink Less, Live More campaign was a success with the ad seen by over 72,000 people online and over 190,000 on Facebook.

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Weight gain found to increase risk of cancerPhoto : Dr Ahmad Aly

Weight gain found to increase risk of cancer

Groundbreaking research by Cancer Council Victoria found gradual weight gain between early- and mid-adult life increases a person’s risk of obesity-related cancers by 30 to 50%.

The findings from our Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study found young adults in the normal weight range who became overweight in their 20s and 30s were at greater risk of 13 types of cancer than those who maintained a healthy weight throughout adulthood.

Over 30,500 Victorians were followed for up to 27 years to assess the association between body mass index (BMI) measurements over their adult life and obesity-related cancer incidence.

To combat the rising issue of obesity and its link to cancer, we aired the 13 Types of Cancer campaign again in 2019 after its success in 2018.

The TV advertisement featured Melbourne surgeon Dr Ahmad Aly exposing in graphic detail the link between obesity and 13 types of cancer by depicting dangerous toxic fat around a patient’s internal organs. The ad focuses on sugary drinks as a key contributor to weight gain.

An evaluation of the 2018 campaign, conducted by Cancer Council Victoria, found the confronting advertisement was effective in exposing added sugar in a variety of drinks, beyond just soft drinks.

The evaluation compared the attitudes and behaviours regarding sugary drinks of 602 people aged 25-59 in Victoria, where the campaign aired, with 618 in other Australian states that did not show the campaign.

Over half of those surveyed indicated they intended to reduce their consumption of energy drinks, fruit drinks and flavoured milks after seeing the campaign.

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Behavioural researcher awarded Order of Australia

Behavioural researcher awarded Order of Australia

Our cancer prevention campaigns have been so successful thanks in part to the work of our Director of Behavioural Science, Professor Melanie Wakefield, who has been recognised with an appointment as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.

Professor Wakefield was awarded the prestigious honour for distinguished service to medical research in the fields of population health and cancer prevention, and as a mentor.

Her world-leading research has vastly impacted the programs and policies of not only state and federal governments here in Australia, but also of governments in other countries.

Among many areas of study, Professor Wakefield has undertaken numerous studies central to understanding the effects of tobacco control policy and anti-smoking mass media campaigns on the prevalence of smoking in the population.

Professor Wakefield is a leading authority on ‘plain packaging’ and her research was key in justifying Australia’s legislation to ban all distinctive branding of tobacco products and to integrate the large graphic warnings on the harms of smoking. She also led a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of the policy, which demonstrated the law to be effective.

Australia’s leadership has prompted similar legislation to be introduced in 16 other countries and many other nations are following close behind, with her work in this area set to have a significant global impact in reducing the toll of tobacco-caused disease and death.

Professor Wakefield has been the director of Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer since 2002, is an NHMRC principal research fellow, and has an honorary professorial appointment at the University of Melbourne.

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Goal two: Mobilise community participation in cancer screening and immunisation programs

Through our campaigns we want to increase participation in life-saving screening and immunisation programs.

Campaign targets low screening areas

Campaign targets low screening areas

As part of our ongoing efforts to prevent bowel cancer, we launched a new campaign to increase screening participation in the Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Indian and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities living in southeast Melbourne.

The initiative followed data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that indicated screening in certain communities is below the state average.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer but 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if found early. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) sends a free screening test to the homes of people aged 50-74 every two years to detect the early signs of bowel cancer before symptoms appear.

With the success of Cancer Council’s campaigns in 2017 and 2018, the Federal Government funded $10 million towards a nationwide campaign to increase participation to help save even more lives.

Our targeted campaign for communities in southeast Melbourne, which complemented the national activity, included digital, print and radio advertisements as well as posters in Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi and Vietnamese. The campaign also included posters and digital advertisements with artwork and messaging designed with community consultation to effectively reach Aboriginal communities.

Nurses and doctors at 120 general practices across the cities of Casey, Greater Dandenong and Mornington Peninsula were trained to encourage more patients to do the at-home bowel screening test.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Head of Prevention, Craig Sinclair said it was important to make sure everyone aged 50-74, regardless of language spoken or cultural background, understood the importance of doing the test.

“Over 100 Australians die from bowel cancer each week. Yet if detected early, bowel cancer is usually easy to treat. The bowel cancer screening test looks for early warning signs, before symptoms appear, increasing the chances of successful treatment,” Mr Sinclair said.

This work was made possible through funding from the Australian Government via the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network.

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Our commitment to Closing the GapPhoto : This artwork represents ones sickness and healing journey with cancer. By Dixon Patten Jnr, a Yorta Yorta and Gunnai man.

Our commitment to Closing the Gap

As an organisation we are working with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and other community organisations towards Closing the Gap, within a framework of self-determination and community control. It's important that the Aboriginal community leads the planning, delivery and the evaluation of activities to help prevent cancer and to support those affected by the disease.

According to our Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2018 report, both cancer incidence and mortality rates are significantly higher for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander men and women than for non-Aboriginal Victorians. This is particularly true for cancers of the lung, liver, oesophagus and pancreas.

Aboriginal women are 4.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, 4.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer and 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with head and neck cancer compared with non-Aboriginal women.

Rates for Aboriginal men and women aged over 70 years were one-third higher than those for non-Aboriginal Victorians.

The greater mortality rates experienced by Aboriginal Victorians reflect those cancers for which incidence is higher, but may also be associated with diagnoses occurring at a more advanced disease stage. This could reflect problems around timely access to treatment and lower participation in cancer screening programs.

Our commitment to Closing the Gap, and towards reconciliation is outlined in our Reconciliation Action Plan. We have a high employee commitment to having a RAP, with one respondent to our employee survey saying:

“Reconciliation is an important part of being on this land we call Australia. Active participation by all Australians in Reconciliation efforts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be an ongoing goal for our organisation.”

In 202 we will be releasing our new three-year Reconciliation Action Plan, building and expanding on our commitments and achievements so far.

Read more about our work helping aboriginal communities  

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Push for communities to test for hepatitis

Push for communities to test for hepatitis

Hepatitis B and C are two common types of virus that affect the liver. If left untreated, they can lead to liver cancer which has a five-year survival of just 23%.

One in 13 Chinese Victorians, one in 25 Filipino Victorians, and one in 18 Thai Victorians have hepatitis B or C.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Head of Screening, Early Detection and Immunisation Kate Broun said many people are unaware that they are living with hepatitis B or C.

“There are often no symptoms of hepatitis B or C, so it is important that people get tested before it’s too late.

“Low-cost vaccination and treatments are available for hepatitis B and there is a cure for hepatitis C, so getting tested could save your life.”

Funded by the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, the campaign ran across social media, digital and radio advertising. It featured artwork developed in consultation with the communities and was done in partnership with the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health and St Vincent’s Hospital.

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Goal three: Empower patients by delivering dynamic, credible information and compassionate support

By 2033, nearly 48,000 Victorians will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Our services will grow and adapt to support them.

Our cancer nurses are here to help

Our cancer nurses are here to help

Thanks to the support of the Victorian community, our experienced and compassionate cancer nurses were able to provide information and support to thousands of patients, carers and families impacted by cancer.

Research has found that Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 nurses act as navigators and educators, enabling people to better understand their situation and the support options available to them.

Nurses received 9,640 requests for information and support from around the state in 2019, with the most common calls about practical issues (35%), cancer treatment and management (21%), prevention, early detection and screening (14%) and psychological or emotional support (19%).

In 2019, 45% of people who contacted 13 11 20 had cancer themselves, but many people who used our service did not, with 28% being a carer or family member of someone with cancer, and 21% members of the general public. We also have many health professionals (6%) who contact us for information or to enquire about support for their patients.

Head of Cancer Information and Support Services, Katherine Lane said the nurses were able to help whatever the situation. “Our nurses provide emotional and practical support, tailored to your situation to help you understand a cancer diagnosis, treatment and its impacts. We help people access reputable information and connect them with not only our support services but also other organisations that may be able to assist. Sometimes people just want to talk with someone who’s able to listen, this can be just as important as anything else.”

Cancer Council provides a number of free services, including a Holiday Break Program for families to access a short break, a Wig Service that includes a postal service to people in regional areas, Cancer Connect – a phone-based peer support program, and cancer education workshops for patients and carers in partnership with local healthcare services.

These services are 100% funded through donations and fundraising by generous supporters. Our 13 11 20 service also received $717,000 from participants in the 2019 Dry July fundraiser.

To speak to our experienced cancer nurses call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or email askanurse@cancervic.org.au. This is a confidential service for anyone looking for cancer information or support. The line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (cost of a local call, except from mobiles).

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Consultations inform submission to Victorian Cancer Plan

Consultations inform submission to Victorian Cancer Plan

While significant progress has been made to reduce the overall burden of cancer, we need to address critical areas to tip the scales in achieving equity in cancer prevention, care, and survival.

Updated every four years, the Victorian Government’s Cancer Plan 2021-2024 sets out goals to save more Victorian lives and support those living with cancer.

We made a submission to inform the next Cancer Plan. As part of our ongoing advocacy work, we consulted with more than 600 community members, researchers and clinicians across Victoria through face-to-face workshops, teleconferences and online surveys to find the issues that mattered most.

It reinforced what we know - that the burden of cancer is not evenly spread. People experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people living with a disability, and those who live in regional and rural areas of Victoria have poorer cancer outcomes.

Through our consultations we identified priorities in need of urgent action. Our top priorities that we’ve submitted to the government include:

  • Reducing the cost of cancer
  • Helping people access support
  • Investing in obesity prevention
  • Encouraging people to take part in bowel cancer screening
  • Increasing access to clinical trials
  • Preventing lung and liver cancer

Read all our recommendations to the Victorian Cancer Plan

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Travel a hidden cost of cancer treatment

Travel a hidden cost of cancer treatment

Lynne’s story highlights the often hidden costs associated with cancer treatment.

She lives in Benalla with her partner. She has thyroid cancer, which has metastasised to her bones and lungs.

“We’re both in our 70s and we have to factor all this into our pension,” she said. “We have to be very budget conscious, but we manage.”

She was already under the care of cardiologists at a hospital in Melbourne and so chose to have her cancer treated there too.

“I don’t have access in town to the specialist services, so if I chose to have the cancer dealt with locally it would almost certainly have to be either Wangaratta (32kms) or the cancer centre up in Albury (118kms) and either one of those to me would be more difficult than going to Melbourne to see the people I’m used to.”

Lynne and her partner take the train and then a tram, which takes about four hours door to door.

“I see five different specialists at St Vincent’s and because they all want to see me more than once a year, it gets quite involved with travel and accommodation,” she said. “Train fares are normally somewhere around $85 return for the two of us and then we can be looking at $200-$260 a night and often that’s two or three nights in a row.

“So, over the course of the year it’s several thousand dollars, it’s not just a few hundred.

“I think what’s really lacking in metropolitan areas is some clean, inexpensive accommodation for country patients who are in my position. It’s really hard to find those things at a reasonable price and usually when you do, they’re booked out weeks ahead anyway. It’s challenging.

“It would help to ease the burden if there could be some system available for (especially, but not exclusively) accommodation support.”

The hidden cost associated with parking, travel and accommodation for cancer treatment is a burden felt particularly by patients living regionally.

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Goal four: Maximise the impact of cancer research and cancer data

We are undertaking and investing in research to improve the way we prevent, detect and treat all cancers.

Understanding who gets cancer and why

Understanding who gets cancer and why

Exploring the relationship between the gut microbiome and cancer is a major focus of the next stage of our Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study.

Over the next 20-30 years, we will follow 52,000 Australians to see who develops diseases such as cancer and identify what factors might be involved. So far, study participants have completed online epidemiological questionnaires about their family history, diet, health and lifestyle, and provided a DNA (saliva) sample, while a smaller group have also provided a blood sample.

In order to add another dimension to the data resource we’re building, we intend to collect faecal samples from ABC Study participants. Thanks to grants from philanthropic trusts, in 2019 we were able to conduct a pilot study to test people’s willingness to provide these samples.

More than 1,000 ABC Study participants were invited to provide a faecal sample. 56% of those asked opted in and 88% of those returned their sample. Informed by these results, in 2020 we will expand the faecal sample collection to include the entire ABC Study cohort.

Collecting these samples will allow us to contribute to the global body of knowledge on the gut microbiome and its influence on the development of cancer and other diseases.

To date, we have also collected blood samples from 20% of the group and have received further investment to expand blood collection in 2020. These samples will allow us to analyse a wide range of relevant measures, such as levels of circulating hormones and other biomarkers in plasma to assess their role in disease development.

A genome-wide association study, which involves genotyping all ABC Study participants using the DNA collected via saliva samples, will also be rolled out. This will allow us to understand how genetic factors combine with other cancer risk factors to influence a person’s risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

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Treatment priorities identified in timely report

Treatment priorities identified in timely report

More children are dying from brain cancer than leukaemia, despite leukaemia diagnoses being double those of brain cancer, data in our Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2018 report showed.

Since the 1980s, deaths from leukaemia have declined due to research that has improved its diagnosis and treatment, but the incidence and mortality rates of brain cancer have remained stagnant.

More than 500 malignant brain tumours are diagnosed in Victoria each year with only 26 per cent of people surviving five years or more. The disease causes twice as many cancer deaths in children under 15 and young people under 29 years when compared with other cancers, yet survival has only increased by three per cent since 2012.

The report, which contains the world’s most up-to-date cancer incidence and mortality information identified areas to be prioritised to reduce the impact of cancer.

Brain cancer has few treatment options and low five-year survival. Significant investment in dedicated research is needed to improve outcomes for those affected, especially children, who are statistically more at risk of this disease.

Cancers with the lowest five-year survival remain liver (21%), lung (19%), cancer of unknown primary (12%), pancreatic (10%) and mesothelioma (6%).

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we are able to fund a number of laboratory-based research projects in Victorian hospitals and universities, including two into mesothelioma. These projects are generously funded by donations through the Lyall Watts Mesothelioma Research Fund and are working to find urgently needed new treatments.

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Stories from our supporters

Our volunteers, fundraisers and supporters enable us in everything we do. We thank them for their passion and commitment. View the list of our major supporters.

Walking Stars

Night under the stars to help stop cancer

More than 3,000 people took part in the Walking Stars challenge in early December, raising nearly $470,000 for cancer research, prevention programs and support services.

Taking part in the non-competitive half-marathon for the first time were Catherine, Tiffany and Berry (pictured on the front cover).

“Cancer has affected quite a few family, friends and people around me,” Catherine said. “My best friend was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and I wanted to get involved and raise awareness.

“One of my colleagues has also lost her close family due to cancer and my mentor passed away at a very young age.”

Walking Stars unites participants to come together and raise funds for those affected by this devastating disease.

“Through Walking Stars, I hoped to improve people’s awareness on the effect of cancer. The money raised can go to research and finding a cure for cancer, as well as supporting those who are in need,” Catherine said.

The 21km challenge began in Alexandra Gardens after sundown, taking participants on a starlit walk past some of Melbourne’s finest landmarks.

“Walking Stars is great, I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd and how many people were there,” Catherine said. “We all walked harmoniously, and we made some new friends along the way. We also got to do sightseeing during the night.

“Walking 21km seemed unachievable but doing it in a group really helped and the time went super-fast! It was also great that it’s held at night so that people who work during the weekends can also participate in it.”

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David's story

David’s story

At first David resisted heading out on the Relay For Life track. He felt out of place despite caring for his wife, Annette, throughout her cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The father of four grew up in a generation where everyone avoided talking about cancer, but now he wants to give back to the community who helped him feel like he was ‘finally doing something’.

In 2015, 10 years after the couple’s marriage, life was going smoothly until Annette’s routine breast screens indicated a problem.

“She called me after her second visit where they did the ultrasound. She didn’t use the word ‘cancer’, but she said they had found something.

“I immediately panicked and hit Doctor Google, and had visions of my wife dying of cancer and all the usual things you go through,” said David.

Annette was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. But there was hope. Fortunately, because she screened regularly, Annette’s cancer was diagnosed in its early stages.

“Once I calmed down after the initial panic, I went to the Cancer Council website to get my facts because

I didn’t want to be grabbing random data off the web. The online stuff was just absolutely brilliant and suited me,” said David.

Annette was swiftly operated on following her diagnosis, then underwent a year of follow up treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and infusions to treat the hormonal side effects she experienced.

“There were scary times, but in the overall picture – and compared to so many others – I feel we got off very lightly,” he said.

For a long time, David didn’t feel that he’d personally ‘been through’ anything, and up until his first Relay For Life, continued to feel this way.

Relay For Life invites the community to get together to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against cancer.

“I didn’t want to go. When I got there, a Relay For Life coordinator spotted me and noticed me looking lost and miserable,” David said.

Once David started walking the survivors and carers lap at the event, he was unexpectedly overwhelmed. He walked the lap with tears streaming down his face.

“I can’t express the flood of emotion I felt as I, for the first time, came to see how cancer had affected me indirectly,” he shared.

“As a spouse you feel you can’t do anything – I couldn’t take every second chemo for her, I just had to be there and bring her a cup of tea. So, I didn’t realise what I had been through.”

It didn’t take long before David decided he wanted to play a role in fostering his local Relay community.

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Mother and daughter team up for Biggest Morning Tea

Mother and daughter team up for Biggest Morning Tea

The impact of cancer on herself and her father left Jodie and her daughter with a drive to help others by hosting an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Her beloved father died after an 18-month journey with melanoma. 

“By the time he was diagnosed, the melanoma had already metastasised. He ended up with cancer in his brain. He had a horrible, relatively quick cancer journey.”

Sadly, there was more to come for Jodie, her husband Russel and their kids, Ella and Jai.

In 2015, Jodie noticed that something wasn’t quite right. “My GP’s instant response was to refer me for a colonoscopy.”

It took less than two weeks for Jodie to be given the news – she had bowel cancer, and it had already spread to her liver and lungs. Jodie had to have radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. She responded well to the radiation, but the chemotherapy made her extremely sick.

“I did about 18 rounds of chemo, over about 44 weeks.

It was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I lost a lot of weight – about 11 kilos in four days.”

Thankfully the treatment was successful. Jodie now says: “I’m well, healthy and living my best life possible.

The primary cancer is gone, as well as the spots in my liver. I still have a smattering of small tumours in my lungs. I’m taking oral chemotherapy for that.”

It was Jodie’s daughter, Ella, who introduced her to Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

“She said ‘I want to raise money for cancer’. She decided to hold a bake sale at her school for her morning tea.

It was like nothing I’d ever seen. Everybody in the class brought something in and then the class sold to the rest of the school. She ended up raising over $4,500.”

Jodie knew she wanted to do something to support her daughter’s amazing efforts, so she decided to host a morning tea at her workplace – Latrobe City Council.

“We employ 1,000 people who work across numerous sites. It’s often difficult for us all to get together, so instead we decided to set up concurrent morning teas at the same time over multiple sites.”

Together with Ella’s cake stall, Jodie and her workplace raised over $9,000 that year.

Since then, Jodie’s Biggest Morning Teas have raised over $30,000 for people impacted by cancer.

“The key for me is that every cent helps somebody who is affected in some way – that’s not even necessarily just the person who is diagnosed. It’s about helping all people, even the loved ones, and helping them soldier on.”

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Lindy's volunteering

Lindy’s volunteering

In 1989, Lindy was 25 years old and had been married for only seven months. Then she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

That’s why she was inspired to volunteer every year for Daffodil Day – and has done for nearly 15 years.

“The opportunity to volunteer came up at a timely moment and I wanted to help raise money,” said the mother of two, Lindy.

“I have fun and I enjoy it! Daffodils are bright and colourful, so it’s a nice day to be giving money and buying some flowers, plus you’re raising money for all cancers.”

The Daffodil Day Appeal is Cancer Council’s iconic annual campaign. Every person who donates, volunteers or buys daffodils throughout August is helping to fund vital cancer research.

Lindy volunteers at the Malvern Central stall every year, as she lives close by and enjoys connecting with her local community.

“Some people who visit will say they’ve been personally affected, or that a relative has been affected, but not everybody who approaches you tells their story – they just want to support Cancer Council.”

For Lindy, she was quickly booked in for surgery after a visit to the doctor.

“That Wednesday, I checked into the hospital late in the afternoon, and was operated on Thursday morning. That was when the surgeon discovered it was a tumour,” said Lindy, although she didn’t learn of the shocking news right away.

“I do remember on that Friday morning after the surgery, my husband Maurice was unshaven and looked terrible and drained, so I asked what was wrong. He told me, ‘you have cancer’.”

“It was harder on him – I was the one going through it, but it was extremely difficult on him,” said Lindy.

“He was fantastic, he was a pillar of strength to me. It’s not nice to watch someone being sick,” shared Lindy.

Lindy remembers that during her diagnosis and treatment, she coped well. It wasn’t until she had recovered that she began to struggle.

“I remember in February and March of 1990, I would be crying and couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. It just hit me, the realisation that I had been sick,” explained Lindy.

Lindy says that time has been the best healer, and has helped with coming to terms with this difficult time in her life.

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Longest Day continues to attract golfing enthusiasts

Longest Day continues to attract golfing enthusiasts

Golfers continued to enjoy the challenge of The Longest Day – our endurance golf marathon challenging participants to complete 72 holes of golf in one day in December.

Nearly 2,000 golfers across Australia took part in The Longest Day 2019, raising over $1.4 million, including over $700,000 in Victoria for skin cancer research, prevention and support.

The team from The Metropolitan Golf Club were the highest fundraisers in Victoria, raising almost $68,000, with John Hudson raising over $44,000.

The event wouldn’t be possible without the amazing participants and The Longest Day committee, chaired by Andrew Buxton who brought the fundraiser to Cancer Council seven years ago. Also on the committee are David Greenhill and Therese Magdulski of Golf Australia, and Tania Smorgon and Aaron Newnham from Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

A huge thank you to all the other golfers and clubs who supported their members for a great day out, including Sorrento Golf Club, Romsey Golf Course, Barwon Heads Golf Club and Woodlands Golf Club.

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Vale Dorothy Reading OAM

Vale Dorothy Reading OAM

We farewelled public health pioneer and leader Dorothy Reading OAM in June 2019.

Dorothy played a major role in establishing successful cancer prevention programs that continue to save thousands of lives, including Quit, PapScreen Victoria, SunSmart and BreastScreen Victoria.

Dorothy was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2017 for her outstanding leadership in cancer control over more than three decades in cancer prevention. Mostly working behind the scenes, Dorothy influenced public debate, motivated Victorian legislative and policy reform and stood up to the powerful tobacco industry.

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 Quit Victoria.

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).

In her memory, Cancer Council Victoria has set up two scholarships to continue Dorothy’s lasting legacy in cancer prevention.

Donations will be matched by Cancer Council Victoria to help fund the scholarships, which will be offered annually to women at the organisation in their early career who are working in the areas of cancer prevention, research or supportive care.

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Our board

Message from the chair

Message from the chair

We face uncertain times with the jolt of the bushfire crisis and the impact of COVID-19, so as we start 2020 we are focused more than ever on delivering the services and programs needed most by Victorians facing cancer.

With this, I want to acknowledge all the hard work of our employees and our board in 2019 who together worked with our supporters in the community to ensure we are reducing everyone’s risk of cancer, helping all affected by it, and surviving it better.

The results of these efforts are shown by our success and our vision. Survival continues to improve for common cancers like early-stage breast and bowel cancer, as well as melanoma, thanks to the investments in research and prevention initiatives. We aim to continue and widen these successes by supporting people, their healthcare services, and government to better and consistently apply tools we know work, and to invent new ones.

We are committed to investing in research both in low-survival cancers and in carefully selected visionary research ideas with our Venture Grants, while at the same time promoting programs targeted at the most disadvantaged amongst us.

In 2019 we looked towards the future with the input of the community into our submission to the Victorian government’s next Cancer Plan. It was a comprehensive review of the current cancer landscape and the needs and priorities that the government and cancer organisations should set to address.

I thank our supporters, volunteers and stakeholders, including the Victorian and Federal Governments. A particular thank you to our volunteer board of directors for their dedication, wisdom, and governance; particularly our Chair of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee, Ms Fiona Green, and our Deputy Chair, and Chair of the Medical and Scientific Committee, Professor Joe Trapani.

Despite the challenges we face in the months ahead, I am looking forward to continuing our important work together and to be there for all Victorians affected by cancer.

Professor Jeremy Millar
Chair of the Board

Board committees

The Board approves strategic directions, organisation structure, policies and implementation processes to ensure Cancer Council Victoria can achieve its mission.

Supporting them are the board committees:

And our expert advisory committees:

Our team

Cancer Council Victoria promotes a diverse and inclusive workplace. We strive for excellence in how we undertake our work, ensure integrity in personal and professional behaviour and demonstrate compassion and respect for others.

Gender diversity

  Female (296) - 80%
  Male (73) - 20%

Cancer Council Victoria has introduced a third option of 'self-identify' for employees to select.

Gender balance of our executive team

  Female (6) - 66%
  Male (3) - 33%

Type of employment

  Full time (222) - 60%
  Part time (147) - 40%


Key financial results for 2019

Cancer Council Victoria recorded a strong net surplus for 2019 of $8.6 million, due to increased charitable support income.

An Accumulated Surplus of $41.5 million highlights a continuing healthy financial position.

At 31 December 2019, cash of $8.0 million and investments of $92.0 million were available to fund Cancer Council's operating activities. The reinvestment of income into diversified assets reduces liquidity risk for the organisation and maximises our ability to deliver significant and sustainable operational results in the future. An investment mandate designed to mitigate exposure to market losses is reviewed annually by management and Investment Committee members.

Our finances (in millions) 2018 2019
Revenue from transactions 62.3 77.8
Expenses from transactions (69.3) (74.5)
Other comprehensive income (1.6) 5.3
Net result from continuing operations (8.6) 8.6
Total Assets 100.9 120.3
Net Assets 76.3 86.6
Accumulated Surplus 31.7 41.5
Reserves 44.6 45.1
Total Equity 76.3 86.6
Cash Flow ($ movement) (1.6) 6.5


Where the money came from

Investment income in 2019 of $4.4 million has also contributed to the overall result.

2018 - $26.8 million
2019 - $44.6 million
External funding
2018 - $26.9 million
2019 - $23.7 million
2018 - $8.6 million
2019 - $9.5 million

Fundraising income

Fundraising income was $44.6 million in 2019, which is $17.8 million higher than last year, largely driven by a increase in bequests and increased investment in digital fundraising through peer-to-peer campaigns, which has reversed the decline in non-bequest fundraising.

2018 - $6.3 million
2019 - $6.8 million
2018 - $10.2 million
2019 - $11.6 million
2018 - $10.3 million
2019 - $26.1 million

Bequest income of $26.1 million (59%) was higher than both the five-year rolling average of $16.8 million and the prior year result ($10.3 million in 2018).

Events income was $11.6 million (26%).

Donation income was $6.8 million (15%).

  Bequest - $26.1 million
  Events - $11.6 million
  Donations - $6.8 million

External income

State funding has decreased by $4 million, this is contributed by the reciept of once-off funding agreement in 2018 for research grants.

2018 - $20.9 million
2019 - $16.9 million
2018 - $4.8 million
2019 - $5.1 million
2018 - $1.2 million
2019 - $1.7 million


Where the money was spent

Total expenditure increased by $5.2 million to $74.5 million in 2019, which represented an underspend against internal targets. Research, Prevention & Support programs increased by $3.5 million to $56.1 million and the Cancer Council continued investment in the strategic initiatives of bowel cancer screening and obesity prevention programs, as well as research grants for low survival cancers.

Cancer research
2018 - $26.1 million
2019 - $29.1 million
Cancer prevention
2018 - $19.5 million
2019 - $20.1 million
Cancer support
2018 - $7.0 million
2019 - $6.9 million
2018 - $12.9 million
2019 - $13.4 million
Other (including costs of retail)
2018 - $3.7 million
2019 - $5.0 million


  Admin costs - 7%
  Cost of Mission work - 75%
  Cost of fundraising activities - 18%

Accumulated surplus and reserves

Accumulated Surplus Increased by $9.7 million to $41.5 million.

Capital profits derived from the sale of land and buildings. These profits are being allocated over time to build the capability of the organisation.

Bequest funding where both capital and interest is restricted to research projects, and is allocated to projects over time.

Funding from competitively won grants and contracts where the project remains incomplete at year end. These funds are available to complete the designated projects only.

Donor funds received for specific projects not yet completed, and available only to complete those projects.

Capital value of donations or bequests received with the condition that the funds be invested and only the incomes used for specific purposes.

Reserve used to recognise increases and decreases in the fair value of investment assets through other comprehensive income.

Our funds (in millions) 2018 2019
Accumulated surplus 31.7 41.5
General reserve 14.3 11.6
Research fund 2.3 2.0
External grants 14.8 12.7
Other restricted funds 7.5 7.9
Special funds 3.5 3.6
FVOCI (Fair Value Through Other Comprehensive Income) 2.2 7.3
Total 76.3 86.6

Tied vs untied income

Tied funds have restrictions on the program they may be applied against whereas there are no restrictions on untied funding.

The proportion of untied income has increeased this year from 55% to 66% largely due to the increase in charitable support bequests.

2018 - $28.3 million
2019 - $26.6 million
2018 - $34.0 million
2019 - $51.2 million

Looking forward

The vital support of our donors and the continued efforts of our supporters, volunteers and staff, combined with a prudent approach to expenditure, further strengthened the financial health of CancerCouncil Victoria in 2019. We will continue to leverage this position, focusing on capability transformation as we work to achieve our mission of preventing cancer, empowering patients and saving lives in the challenging times ahead.

For more information, see the full set of Cancer Council Victoria audited financial statements.

Fiona Green
Chair, Finance, Risk and Audit Committee