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What has been achieved over 85 years with help from people who left a gift in their Will

1936 - The ‘Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria’ is established by the Victorian Parliament. Our first meetings are chaired by the Lord Mayor at the Melbourne Town Hall. With the economy still recovering from the Great Depression, our first public appeal raises $66,000 — the equivalent of several million dollars today

1954 - Professor Donald Metcalf, AC became Cancer Council Victoria’s Carden Fellow in 1954. His groundbreaking work in colony stimulating factors (CSFs) began. Millions of people worldwide have since received CSFs as part of their cancer treatment.


1971 - Dr Nigle Gray, AO oversees the first community service announcements against tobacco, beginning a push that results in a ban on tobacco advertising on television and radio from 1976.

1989 - Cancer Council Victoria begins the Health 2020 Study. As part of this the Food Frequency Questionnaire is created - a resource still used today. Over five years, 41,581 people are recruited to the study looking at lifestyle links with cancer.

2000 - We launch the  Cancer Connect program, which now has about 100 trained volunteers across Victoria providing peer support across many different types of cancer. 

2008 - The Victorian government moves to strictly regulate the solarium industry after a very public campaign led by Cancer Council and Clare Oliver. The new regulations mean solarium operators must be licensed, display health warnings and meet several strict operating laws or face substantial fines.

2011 - We launch the Forgotten Cancers Project to help find out more about the causes of less common cancers such as brain, liver, multiple myeloma and stomach, with the long-term aim of improving the prevention and treatment of these diseases in the future.

Plain packaging

2012 - Australia becomes the first country to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.

2014 - We launch the  Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study to investigate the causes of cancer and other diseases by working with over 50,000 Australians. The aim is to investigate the role that our genes, lifestyle and environment play in the development of disease leading to breakthroughs that will enable more individualised prevention and screening to occur. 

New support services are introduced, including our  pro bono legal and financial referral program and  psychosexual counselling to meet the needs of a growing number of people living with cancer. 

Cancer nurses

2013 - SunSmart celebrates 30 years of educating the community about sun protection. More than 103,000 skin cancers are prevented in Victoria between 1988 and 2003 and more than 1,000 deaths averted since the Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign began.


2016 - A massive global study co-led by Associate Professor Roger Milne confirmed the risk of developing breast cancer from some relatively rare genetic changes similar to that from the more common BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. This research is helping to develop more personalised treatments.

2017 - Funded by a gift in a Will by a generous Victorian, we launched a campaign to try to increase participation in the free at-home bowel cancer screening test. The first campaign resulted in about 12,500 additional Victorians taking the test. It’s estimated that this prevented about 300 cancer cases and saved approximately 180 lives. Additional campaigns were run in 2018 and 2019.

Bowel Kit

2020 - Victoria is set to become the first jurisdiction in the world to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030 thanks to the success of vaccination and screening programs.

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