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Frequently Asked Questions

We usually have FAP funds leftover from our allocation at the end of the year, will we need to return these to Cancer Council Victoria?

All block agency providers of our Financial Assistance Program will be provided with a Deed of Variation before the end of the year.  Once signed, this variation will allow you to continue using any remaining funds until the end of March 2021.

What if we still have FAP funds remaining when the Deed of Variation expires on 31 March 2021?

Cancer Council Victoria will require any remaining funds to be returned immediately as outlined in the terms of the Deed of Variation.  We will require a final reconciliation and then we can arrange with you the best method for return of unused funds.

Do we have to keep providing Cancer Council Victoria with reconciliation reports in 2021?

Yes, if a Deed of Variation has been signed for funds to be used in 2021. It remains a requirement that we receive an updated monthly reconciliation spreadsheet for the previous month within 3 business days of the start of each new month.

What if we use all remaining funds before the end of the Deed of Variation?

If you utilise all remaining funds from your 2020 allocation before 31 March 2021 you will simply need to confirm this on presentation of a final reconciliation spreadsheet.  We will acknowledge and confirm that all money has been distributed and that our agreement has concluded.

How long will we have in 2021 before we have to give back any unspent funds from 2020?

All block agency providers of our Financial Assistance Program will be provided with a Deed of Variation before the end of the year.  Once signed, this Variation will allow you to continue using any remaining funds until the end of March 2021. 

What happens if we decline to sign a Deed of Variation?

If your organisation chooses not to sign a Deed of Variation, then the current Simple Funding Agreement will expire on 31 December 2020. Cancer Council Victoria will require any remaining funds to be returned immediately following confirmation of final reconciliation for December 2020.  Once this is confirmed we can discuss with you the best method for return of unused funds.

If we distribute all of our funds before the end of 2020, how do we help the people who need financial assistance? 

If your patient requires access to immediate financial relief through cash, food parcels or vouchers then we recommend you use a local resource in your area such as the Salvation Army, Vinnies, Anglicare Victoria, Red Kite or a Food Bank. Many of these organisations can offer immediate assistance when someone requires crisis support for daily living. You can find links to these organisations on our website.

What if my patient doesn’t want to talk to a financial counsellor at Cancer Council Victoria, who can we refer them to for assistance?

If your patient doesn’t want to speak with our financial counsellor, that is okay.  If your patient would like to talk to someone outside Cancer Council Victoria about their financial situation you can always refer them to speak with the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or they can find an agency that offers financial counselling in or close to their local area by using this link https://ndh.org.au/talk-to-a-financial-counsellor/find-a-financial-counsellor/

Is your Pro Bono program still operating?

Yes. You can continue to refer people to our Pro Bono service for professional legal, employment and financial advice. These services are delivered by professionals in the community who volunteer their time to assist people who cannot ordinarily afford to pay for advice. Eligibility criteria apply.

How do I refer people to your Pro Bono program?

Healthcare professionals can refer cancer patients to our Pro Bono program by visiting our website and completing the referral form www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/referral-information

Why are you taking this approach?

We know from our research and public consultations that the impact of the financial costs of treatment on Australian patients and their families—and high out-of-pocket costs in particular—is a growing concern.  

While the current model of one-off grants contributes to basic hardship relief, it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Since 2019, we’ve appointed a full-time financial assistance program coordinator and a financial counsellor and will be looking to expand our team in 2021. Over this time, we’ve been conducting a review of our existing program, while trialling this expanded service model. The feedback from health professionals, patients and families has been really positive and we believe this is a valuable service that’s helping meet the unmet needs of people affected by cancer.

Will Cancer Council Victoria still be able to provide Telstra certificates for our patients?

Yes. We will still be able to provide Telstra certificates or Telstra Pre-Paid top up assistance for eligible patients. 

Will Cancer Council Victoria be able to give our patients money or vouchers to assist if they are in immediate crisis and requiring access to groceries, petrol or other bill payments?

No. Cancer Council Victoria will no longer be able to provide patients with any direct financial assistance in 2021. There are many organisations that can assist in situations of crisis and emergency when access to small amounts of money or vouchers to purchase groceries or petrol are needed to address an immediate crisis situation.  If you are uncertain of which organisations may be able to assist your patient, we recommend using this link on our website.  

What’s changing and when?

Beginning 2021, Cancer Council Victoria will no longer be providing one-off financial grants to people affected by cancer either via our nurses on 13 11 20 or by providing funding to healthcare providers. To better support people with the cost of cancer, we’re developing a more holistic and personalised financial counselling program and expanding our current capacity to support more people.  

What other support can Cancer Council Victoria offer patients who are experiencing financial hardship?

People affected by cancer can access our financial counselling program directly through our cancer nurses on 13 11 20, by email at askanurse@cancervic.org.au or through our website at www.cancervic.org.au/askanurse. It’s confidential, independent and free for all Victorians.

Our financial counsellor will conduct a thorough financial needs assessment and help people understand their options and identify the right questions to ask their healthcare provider or private health fund. Our program supports people with questions around public and private healthcare, out-of-pocket costs, government benefits, superannuation, insurance, credit and debt issues and can even be a direct advocate with creditors where needed.

We also welcome referrals from healthcare professionals via our Cancer Support referral form found on our website www.cancervic.org.au/cancer-support-referral.  

Does this mean Cancer Council is now providing free financial advice?

No. Cancer Council offers financial counselling to assist Victorians in financial difficulty associated with their cancer experience by providing information, support and advocacy. Financial counsellors provide practical advice to help people who have debts and are struggling to meet ordinary living expenses. They are experts in consumer and social security law, industry hardship obligations/codes and working with industry ombudsmen, as well as skilled counsellors. They do not provide any advice about investment or wealth creation as this is something a Financial Advisor or Planner offers for a fee. Financial Counselling services are provided at no cost.

Why are you doing this?

We know from our research and public consultations that the impact of the financial costs of treatment on Australian patients and their families—and high out-of-pocket costs in particular—is a growing concern.  

While the current model of one-off grants contributes to basic hardship relief, it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Since 2019, we’ve appointed a full-time financial assistance program coordinator and a financial counsellor and will be looking to expand our team in 2021. Over this time, we’ve been conducting a review of our existing program, while trialling this expanded service model. The feedback, from health professionals, patients and families, has been really positive and we believe this is a valuable service that’s helping meet the unmet needs of people affected by cancer.

Have you cancelled your financial assistance program because of declining donations as a result of COVID-19?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our ability to fundraise, it has also allowed us to reflect on our strategic priorities and clarify where we can make the biggest impact. In addition to our expanded financial counselling team, we will also be working with our Philanthropy and Corporate partnerships teams to pursue opportunities that may mean we can continue to provide vouchers on a pro-bono basis, rather than via donor funds.

If fundraising in 2021 is successful, will you start giving out FAP funds again?

No. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our ability to fundraise, it has also allowed us to reflect on our strategic priorities and clarify where we can make the biggest impact.

Is your Pro Bono program still operating?

Yes. You can continue to refer people to our Pro Bono service for professional legal, employment and financial advice. These services are delivered by professionals in the community who volunteer their time to assist people who cannot ordinarily afford to pay for advice. Eligibility criteria apply.

How do I refer people to your Pro Bono program?

Healthcare professionals can refer cancer patients to our Pro Bono program by visiting our website and completing the referral form www.cancervic.org.au/for-health-professionals/referral-information

What’s the difference between your new financial counselling program and your Pro Bono program?

Our financial counselling program is run out of Cancer Council Victoria and uses a trained financial counsellor to help people in financial difficulty due to the cost of cancer. Our Pro Bono program is a national program that operates out of Cancer Council New South Wales and is delivered by professionals in the community who volunteer their time to assist people who cannot ordinarily afford to pay for advice. The Pro Bono Program provides referrals to a range of services related to legal, workplace, small business as well as financial planning issues.

With these changes are you still going to operate your Pro Bono program?

Yes, our Pro Bono program will continue to operate in the foreseeable future.

What if my patient doesn’t want to talk to a financial counsellor at Cancer Council Victoria, who can we refer them to for assistance?

If your patient doesn’t want to speak with our financial counsellor, that is okay.  If your patient would like to talk to someone outside Cancer Council Victoria about their financial situation you can always refer them to speak with the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or they can find an agency that offers financial counselling in or close to their local area by using this link https://ndh.org.au/talk-to-a-financial-counsellor/find-a-financial-counsellor/

How do we refer people for assistance from Cancer Council Victoria’s Financial Counselling Program?

Healthcare professionals can refer people to all of our programs, including our financial counselling program, through our Cancer Support referral form found on our website www.cancervic.org.au/cancer-support-referral.  Select the support services you’re interested in and one of our nurses will contact your patient or carer within two business days to provide a full needs assessment.

Alternatively, people can access our financial counselling program themselves by contacting our cancer nurses on 13 11 20, by emailing askanurse@cancervic.org.au or through our website at www.cancervic.org.au/askanurse. It’s confidential, independent and free for all Victorians.

If you’re unsure about making a referral, we encourage healthcare professionals to contact us in advance for a consultation.  We’re happy to provide guidance on whether to make a referral, or  we may be able to guide you to other information or resources to  assist your patient or carer.

Who is eligible to access your Financial Counselling Program?

To access our Financial Counselling Program the person being referred must be a current cancer patient or carer who is receiving, or has received, treatment or supportive care within the last year. They must be a resident in Victoria and have financial difficulties arising, directly or indirectly, from their time as a cancer patient or carer .  If the patient or carer is already connected with a financial counsellor, we recommend they raise any additional financial concerns of changes in their situation with them so consistent support can be provided.

Will Cancer Council Victoria still be able to provide Telstra certificates for our patients?

Yes. We will still be able to provide Telstra certificates or Telstra Pre-Paid top up assistance for eligible patients. 

How do we refer patients for assistance with Telstra certificates or Pre-Paid top up assistance?

We will provide you with a referral form that will need to be completed and signed by the patient confirming their details and nominating which Telstra assistance is required. You will then need to email this to FAP@cancervic.org.au and we will send the patient Telstra certificates by post OR we will directly apply the Pre-Paid top up using their eligible Telstra mobile phone number.

Will Cancer Council Victoria be able to give our patients money or vouchers to assist if they are in immediate crisis and requiring access to groceries, petrol or other bill payments?

No. Cancer Council Victoria will no longer be able to provide patients with any direct financial assistance in 2021. There are many organisations that can assist in situations of crisis and emergency when access to small amounts of money or vouchers to purchase groceries or petrol are needed to address an immediate crisis situation.  If you are uncertain of which organisations may be able to assist your patient, we recommend using this link on our website

Is Cancer Council Victoria ruling out providing direct financial assistance for people with cancer in the future or is it open to opportunities for corporate partnerships or other funding?

We’ll continue to review our financial support services based on the need, gaps in service delivery and as a result of feedback from the sector including healthcare professionals, social workers and people affected by cancer. We welcome any opportunity to discuss funding opportunities with government and corporate and philanthropic partners that are aligned with our mission and values.  

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