Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Australia
The next five years will see a new focus in the work of Cancer Australia.
In collaboration with key stakeholders, including health professionals, researchers and consumers, Cancer Australia has identified a set of targeted and achievable goals for 2014 to 2019.
The goals are laid out in the new Cancer Australia strategic plan, which was released in November 2014.1
Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. In 2015, about 132,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer — an average of 360 people each day. This number is projected to continue to rise and in 2020, about 150,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in Australia.2
Although Australians experience among the highest cancer survival rates in the world, and survival rates are improving, cancer still remains a leading cause of death — three in every 10 deaths in Australia are from cancer.3
Cancer diagnosis and treatment are therefore key components in Australian health care. Decisions around cancer care will affect thousands of Australians and have a major impact on our health budget.
In addition, a number of trends being seen now will affect the needs and expectations around cancer care in the future:
Meeting the cancer challenge is therefore about making sure that all Australians are provided with the best possible cancer care, and that treatment and resources are used most effectively. This approach will deliver optimal outcomes for people with cancer, as well as value for the health system.
Cancer Australia was established in 2006 by the Australian Government as a specialist agency to provide leadership in cancer control. Cancer control focuses on addressing the impact of cancer by reducing cancer incidence and mortality and improving the quality of life for people affected by cancer, through the systematic implementation of evidence-based strategies for prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and supportive, follow-up, palliative and end-of-life care.1
The Cancer Australia Act 2006 specifies a number of roles for Cancer Australia, including:
Cancer Australia’s Strategic Plan 2014–2019 was developed by Cancer Australia in collaboration with key stakeholder groups, including consumers and the community, researchers and data custodians, health professionals, service planners and deliverers, as well as the staff and the Advisory Council of Cancer Australia. A number of consultations were held in 2013, including one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders and four planning forums attended by around 150 external participants.
Feedback gathered through the stakeholder consultations indicates that the case for cancer control remains as strong and relevant as ever, as does the need for a specialised agency to shape the cancer control agenda and guide investments in the health system. As a national body with an evidence-based and credible reputation, Cancer Australia can use its position to shape and guide best practice and reduce duplication across the system.
The strategic plan includes a set of four goals to guide Cancer Australia’s work over the next five years:
In taking on the cancer challenge, Cancer Australia has two main levers: evidence and collaboration.
Evidence-based practice is essential to improving cancer outcomes and care. Cancer Australia identifies gaps in our knowledge across the continuum of cancer care and supports development of the evidence base, including through research grants. It also assesses the evidence that is continually being developed. As the science of cancer and genomics is one of the most rapidly changing areas in health, the analysis and interpretation of an increasing volume of scientific research and national data is critical to identifying the factors affecting cancer control.
Most importantly, Cancer Australia works to ensure that evidence is translated into policy and practice by developing position statements, clinical guidance, models of care and community information around the practical application of evidence. It is critical that Australian decision makers (at the policy, service planning, clinical and personal levels) have an authoritative, national ‘source of truth’ for information and evidence about cancer. Cancer Australia aims to be that source.
National cancer control also requires partnership. Collaboration is essential, as cancer treatment involves so many groups — health professionals, health service managers, researchers and consumers. It is important that there is communication and collaboration between them all. Cancer Australia is the key link between all the various organisations involved in cancer care in Australia, and uses an effective engagement model to drive collaboration.
Cancer Australia’s new goals represent a shift in the focus of the organisation. In developing the new strategic plan, Cancer Australia looked at the key needs and questions currently facing cancer care in Australia and the unique contribution it could make. In this way, Cancer Australia has clearly identified where it can have an impact and will focus its work in these areas over the next five years.
Cancer Australia stakeholders will see a number of impacts resulting from this:
For health professionals and services, Cancer Australia’s development of national best-practice models of care will directly guide their practice. The establishment of national indicators for cancer control will also support service delivery and practice improvements.
For researchers, Cancer Australia will continue to align cancer research funding with evidence-based priorities and establish international cancer research collaborations focused on priority areas.
For the community, Cancer Australia will promote safe and effective treatment based on the best available evidence and aim to reduce differences in cancer outcomes between groups. Cancer Australia will also provide access to the best available evidence to support decision making.
For all stakeholders, their involvement and support will be vital to the implementation of the new strategic plan. Cancer Australia looks forward to working with the Australian Government and the cancer control community around a shared agenda, to deliver informed and effective cancer control and ultimately better outcomes for all people affected by cancer in Australia.