Our Highlights of /
Everything we do is underpinned by world-class research. In the past 5 years alone, Cancer Council NSW has invested $83.6 million into essential cancer research.
In 2018/19, we contributed $19 million to cancer research, funding:
Almost 10,000 new advocates joined our CanAct Community this year, bringing the total to 40,000 members who influence what politicians do about cancer.
Reducing cancer risk
1.9 million: The number of Australian lives that will be saved through reduced lung cancer burden up to the year 2100, thanks to antismoking reforms driven by Cancer Council and allies*
Our research is supporting global health leaders in setting targets to help prevent the 300,000 deaths from cervical cancer worldwide each year.
Our research has predicted that scaling up cervical screening and vaccination globally could save 12.5 million women from developing cervical cancer in the next 50 years.
Cancer Council NSW researchers have predicted Australia is on track to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035.
80% of children in NSW primary schools are reducing their risk of skin cancer, thanks to our SunSmart Schools Program.
Increasing cancer survival
The number of Australians who survive cancer has increased by an estimated 40% in the past 30 years*.
Most of that improvement is through prevention and early detection, with increased survival in early-stage cancers of the breast, bowel, cervix, prostate and melanoma.
Today, almost 7 in 10 people in NSW will survive at least 5 years after a cancer diagnosis*.
84,000 Australian lives can be saved by 2040, if we can increase bowel cancer screening rates to 60% from the current rate of 40%*.
Improving the quality of life of people affected by cancer
More than 530,000 people affected by cancer relied on us for information and support in 2018/19.
We helped 2,660 cancer patients and carers get to treatment centres and hospitals through our Transport to Treatment program, driving more than 1.1 million kilometres across NSW.
We provided affordable accommodation to 2,258 cancer patients and carers, so they could stay close to their treatment centres.
2,677 people were helped through a time of financial stress thanks to our Financial Assistance Program.
Our Pro Bono Program provided an estimated $5.2 million worth of legal, financial, workplace or small business assistance to people in need.
Improving cancer outcomes for priority populations
Smoking rates among Aboriginal people in NSW have decreased by about 25% in the past five years*.
A key priority of our cervical cancer research agenda is to reduce cervical cancer inequities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other disadvantaged groups in Australia.
- *These figures reflect the work of both Cancer Council and others.
- 'Cancer Council' refers to the work of the Cancer Council federation, not only Cancer Council NSW.
It’s been almost three years now since I was declared ‘cancer free’ and, each year, I celebrate my anniversary. I feel it is important to celebrate these milestones, to celebrate life and the people around you.Lily Gubbay Cancer survivor and Community Ambassador
We’re conducting and funding world-class research that reduces the impact of cancer
We are committed to conducting and funding research that improves outcomes across the entire cancer journey. Cancer Council funds more cancer research than any other nongovernment organisation in Australia. Thanks to our supporters, Cancer Council NSW invested $19 million in 2018/19.
This is Professor Jacob George. He is a liver cancer researcher from the Storr Liver Centre.
"Liver cancer is one of the top 10 causes of cancer death in Australia, but there have been no new, first-line treatments developed in the past decade.
My team and I are looking at the specific markers that identify liver cancer stem cells and developing aptamer molecules, also known as chemical antibodies, to target those markers. We have also shown these aptamers can be combined with a widely used anticancer drug to form a ‘therapeutic complex’."
We’re reducing cancer by encouraging and supporting people to lead healthy, cancer-smart lifestyles
Preventing cancer is one of the most effective ways to create a cancer free future. Research shows that one in three cancers can be prevented. We can reduce cancer risks by empowering communities to lead healthier, cancer-smart lifestyles through our sun protection, tobacco control and nutrition initiatives.
This is Susan Ellwood. She is the Relieving Assistant Principal at Blaxland Public School and has championed our SunSmart hat wearing project.
"We had about 80% of students wearing hats, but we could never seem to increase that.
We now have 100% of children consistently wearing SunSmart hats. The kids can now see the reason for our rule, which I think has helped a lot. All the resources Cancer Council NSW provided made that so much easier to achieve."
We’re empowering and supporting people affected by cancer, so that no one faces cancer alone
We are here to support people affected by cancer through every challenge a diagnosis may bring. Cancer can affect every part of a person’s life. We provide practical and emotional support, as well as evidence-based information at the times when it is most needed.
This is Ellen Tailby. She is our first Cancer Council Liaison.
"From all the research we did, it was clear that cancer patients and their carers often don’t know what services are available or where to look when they need more information, emotional support or help with practical things like their finances.
Cancer affects many aspects of a person’s life. I want patients to have the opportunity to talk about the whole picture and know what services are available.
I feel privileged that people share their journeys with me and that I can point them toward services that can really help them."
We’re ensuring that governments take action to reduce cancer risk and improve access to care and treatment
We believe the community should have a say in what governments do about cancer. To achieve this, we bring evidence and people together to influence changes in policy, funding and legislation. We work closely with our 40,000-strong CanAct Community members to urge politicians to act on issues related to cancer.
This is Hiba Jebeile. She is a dietitian working in childhood obesity, a mother of two, and was part of our Saving Life 2019 campaign.
"My kids are aged 7 and 9. Children are impressionable – every time they pass an ad for junk food, they ask if they can have the product.
It makes me angry that money is being put ahead of our children’s health, which is why I spoke about how junk food advertising affects our family at the launch of the Saving Life 2019 campaign."
We’re fundraising to conduct and fund world-class research that reduces the impact of cancer
Our research, prevention, information and support and advocacy work are only made possible through fundraising. We receive more than 94% of our funds from the community and simply wouldn’t exist without the thousands of passionate and hard-working people who donate and raise funds for us every year, in what continues to be a very tough fundraising environment.
James Freeman founded Box Rallies, which have raised $20 million for cancer research since 2010.
"I’m fortunate to come from a very close family. Mum had bowel cancer a few times, but she’d received treatment and things were looking pretty good. Then we found out Dad had prostate cancer. When Dad started to go through his treatment, Mum’s came back very aggressively.
My brother and I became the primary carers for both my parents. I would take them to their appointments and sit with them while they were having their chemotherapy – it was very tough.
Mum and Dad died within a year of each other. I’d been overseas for quite a while, and when I came back to Australia to care for them, I felt like a stranger in my own country. I started thinking I wanted to see more of Australia and the idea for the Sh*tbox Rally grew from there.
I wanted to turn fundraising on its head and inject humour into what we were doing. Cancer is awful, and because you’re dealing with something that is grim, the fundraising can also be pretty grim. When you say you are going to take this sh*tbox car and drive it from one side of the country to another, across very rough outback roads, people laugh and say you’re mad. The rallies themselves are so much more than a long, challenging drive. We build spirits, belief, comradery, a support network and what I call our Rally Family.
I never expected that we’d be in year 10 and have three rallies a year, 250 teams each rally and a target of raising $5 million a year. I am thrilled with what we are achieving."
Marjorie chose to support our work
“Because Cancer Council NSW was there for me, now I am trying to be there for them.
It is important to get involved in your community and to also give back and help raise funds for the things you care about.”
Volunteer and Gifts in Wills donor
We're working with the NSW community
We work with communities across NSW by creating awareness about our information and support services, influencing what politicians do about cancer, engaging and supporting fundraisers, and providing education on cancer prevention. Our focus is understanding our communities’ insights and needs.
Helen White – CarerArmidale
My 84-year-old mother Margaret had a cancer removed on her face. When the tests came back, it showed they didn’t get it all – it had gone into a nerve and she needed a five-week course of radiation treatment in Tamworth. Mum lives in Guyra and my sister and I both work, so to have five weeks off would have been difficult. She stayed in Armidale with me so I could look after her, which is still an hour and half each way to the hospital.
Mum’s oncologist told us about Cancer Council NSW’s Transport to Treatment service. I thought it might be okay, but I didn’t know how Mum would handle it and whether she’d be comfortable with people she didn’t know.
Cancer Council NSW and the volunteer drivers couldn’t have been more helpful. Most of the drivers had either had cancer or had a family member who had been through cancer, so they knew what mum was going through and could help take her mind off things. They were just so good to Mum – it was more like being on an outing with a friend! They were always on time, they’d chat with her, walk her into the hospital, then be there when she was finished to drive her home.
The drivers just took all the stress out of it for us. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough – I just think it’s one of the best things ever.
They were just so good to Mum – it was more like being on an outing with a friend!
Melissa Jackman – ENRICHing Survivorship participantBathurst
When I found a lump in 2015, I didn’t do anything about it for a month – I was in denial. When I had biopsies taken, I knew I had breast cancer.
I had a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and will be taking hormone blocker tablets for at least 10 years. I also had a breast reconstruction last year.
The ENRICHing Survivorship program showed me the importance of taking time to look after my health. The sessions discuss healthy eating and showed me exercises that I can do anywhere.
Conversations at ENRICHing Survivorship are ones you never have with your husband or best mate. In one session, we discussed the stages of grief. I thought I was handling cancer, but I realised I was still in the anger phase. My cancer experience taught me to reprioritise my life. I used to paint at school before I had kids, but hadn’t for years. I now attend an art class each week.
The program showed me the importance of taking time to look after my health.
David Naylor – Founder of the Walk For ShereeWollongong
I started the Walk For Sheree to give back and help people who are affected by cancer. I also wanted to do something in my daughter’s memory.
Before 2015, life was rosy. Sheree and her husband had three children between the ages of three and seven, and we were just like any other family.
Then Sheree was diagnosed with melanoma on her tongue. She was treated for it and we thought that was that. A short time later she began complaining about a tooth ache. She went to a dentist but there was nothing wrong with her teeth, so her dentist referred her back to her oncologist. It turned out Sheree had cancer in her neck. She had an operation and in the process a nerve in her neck was severed and she lost the ability to drink and eat. It was all downhill from there.
We lost Sheree in April 2017. In October that year, I gathered a group of Sheree’s friends and we did 7 Bridges Walk. With the help of family and friends, we raised $20,000 as a team. We were extremely proud that we could help make a difference.
I came up with the idea to hold our own walk in Sheree’s memory. The first Walk For Sheree took place in December 2018. We had more than 500 walkers and raised $8,500 for Cancer Council NSW. We’re holding the Walk For Sheree again this year, hoping to raise $10,000.
It might not be in my time, but I am hopeful that one day we will live in a world without cancer. If we can play our part, then we’ve done well.
It might not be in my time, but I am hopeful that one day we will live in a world without cancer. If we can play our part, then we’ve done well.
Veronica Leonardo – Cancer Council NSW AdvocatePenrith
My breast cancer diagnosis in 2016 was a surprise because I felt like I was doing the right things – I was fit, and I usually ate well. Still, there were signs – I was experiencing incredible fatigue, and I couldn’t explain why. I was constantly getting colds that I could never fully shake.
My husband and I married 18 months before my diagnosis. It was a time when we were considering children, and my diagnosis had a huge impact on those plans. I was devastated and for the first six weeks I wasn’t coping. Thankfully, I found a fantastic counsellor that Cancer Council NSW subsidised
I had an aggressive form of cancer, so I had a right breast mastectomy that involved removal of lymph nodes in my armpit, in addition to six months chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation and then a year of immunotherapy.
I remember saying to my surgeon that once the storm passes, I would like to try to support others with cancer. I knew about Cancer Council NSW from a research perspective but didn’t realise the impact of their advocacy work, some of which I got to benefit from, such as not paying for parking while going through treatment. I completed the two-day Cancer Council NSW advocacy training in 2018 and became very involved with the Saving Life 2019 campaign. I got to see the amount of work that goes into advocacy and the impact we can make. There’s just so much that needs to be done to support people affected by cancer. I plan to continue my advocacy work and make my experience count for something.
I plan to continue my advocacy work and make my experience count for something.
We’re working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Reducing the impact of cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority. Aboriginal Australians are 60% more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal Australians*. This year, we continued to work together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to improve cancer outcomes.
*Cancer Council NSW Aboriginal Patterns of Cancer Care study.
Louise Brown is an Aboriginal Liasion Officer at Bourke Hospital.
I’m the Aboriginal Liaison Officer for the Western NSW Local Heath District at Bourke Hospital. I’ve been working in health for 15 years and have worked with all sorts of people affected by cancer and undergoing palliative care.
Through my work in health, I realised that many Aboriginal Health Workers in Western NSW aren’t aware of the information and services available to help Aboriginal people affected by cancer. So, together with Cancer Council NSW, we held two Yarning About Cancer forums to try and improve this.
At the forums, we had stalls so people could mingle and listen to presentations about topics like cancer literacy and prevention. It was a great way for local health workers to get to know each other and learn about each other’s work. The feedback we got from the forums was very positive, so we’d like to do more in the future.
Implementing Cultural Respect training for all new starters
As part of our commitment to be a welcoming, culturally safe and responsive place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year we embedded Aboriginal Cultural Respect training into orientation for all new staff. This included forming a partnership with EVOLVE Communities to deliver the training, with Elder and Director Munya Andrews as the facilitator. The workshops developed our staff’s understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and helped them learn culturally appropriate ways to communicate and connect.
Building trusted partnerships
Our Western NSW team collaborated with Western Local Health District staff to present together at the Cancer Institute NSW Aboriginal Cancer Network Forum. The presentation was on the topic of Yarning About Cancer in our Local Region. This was a great platform to showcase all the initiatives happening across the state, share information and identify priorities.
Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan
Our 2019-23 strategy prioritises partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to improve cancer outcomes. We are committed to developing a new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with our RAP Strategy Leadership Group, which includes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, our executive leadership team and staff who work in our communities. Consultations with several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations were held through National Reconciliation Week this year.
Working with AHS to implement Tackling Tobacco
Since 2016, our Tackling Tobacco program, in partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW, has been rolled out at 10 Aboriginal Health Services (AHS) across NSW. Participating AHS have received up to $15,000 each, plus support from local Cancer Council NSW staff, to enact and embed organisational changes that address smoking. Some of these changes include training staff in smoking cessation, developing locally tailored non-smoking information materials and holding community events to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco.
A key focus area of our 2019-23 strategy is improving cancer outcomes for priority populations. We aim to partner with and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and lower socio-economic communities. The year ahead will see us working with Reconciliation Australia to further refine our RAP, with a view to seek endorsement and launch our RAP in 2019/20.
We’re developing our people
Our staff and volunteers are our greatest assets. We value their commitment, passion and contribution to our vision. We support them by providing a safe and inspirational work environment that celebrates achievements and recognises talent.
Implementing a volunteer and employee engagement survey
In 2018/19, we asked our staff and volunteers what they enjoyed about working with us and where we needed to improve. Overall, 81% of employees said they were passionate about working with us, which was a 1% increase on the previous survey held two years ago, and an encouraging 5% ahead of the industry benchmark. For volunteers, 89% were passionate about their role with us – a 1% increase on the previous survey. Staff told us they were most satisfied with how we build awareness and belief in our work, mission and values, their ability to foster good working relationships with co-workers and the priority we place on safety. The area needing the greatest improvement was ensuring technology is up-to-date and used well.
Volunteers told us that, while they’re also happy with the awareness of our mission, they would value having more input in day-to-day decision-making.
Conducting inspirational place to work and volunteer workshops
We conducted 12 workshops across each of our communities, asking a total of 220 staff and volunteers how we could achieve our 2023 outcome of being an inspirational place to work and volunteer. At each of the workshops, we brainstormed to build a shared meaning of the outcome and discussed ideas about the actions we could take over the next five years to bring this outcome to life. The ideas arising from the workshops have been combined with our 2019 engagement survey results, to develop our five-year priorities and an organisational action plan for 2019/20.
Building diversity in our workforce
We want our workplace to better reflect the communities we support. To help achieve this, we have drafted the organisation’s first Diversity and Inclusion strategy, which is now being reviewed by stakeholders from across the organisation.
We are developing bold and transformational leadership among our people. Our Leadership Development program is designed to create leaders throughout our organisation, supporting a philosophy that our people can lead from wherever they stand. The Leadership Development program is a fantastic opportunity for our current and aspiring leaders to drive greater innovation and be champions for creating an agile, community-centric culture.
Staff have consistently highlighted career development in engagement and exit surveys as one of the main reasons that they choose to leave us. We delivered two career development initiatives, My Career and Career Conversations workshops across all our offices this year to support both managers and team members, including volunteers, to have more effective discussions about career development and progression.
Launching our wellness program
In 2018/19 we launched our Wellness Program in response to feedback from staff and volunteers in 2018.
We kickstarted it with health expos across NSW, which included information on all aspects of health and wellbeing. Lunch and Learn sessions have covered sleep and fatigue management, busting food myths and mindfulness. We continue to offer and promote physical programs, including The March Charge, yoga, personal training and therapeutic massage in-house.
We also piloted a program addressing mental health in the workplace. The aim of the program is to help our leaders identify the early signs of mental health challenges faced by staff and volunteers. The program will be launched in 2019/20 to equip our leaders with the necessary information and resources to provide support where it is needed.
Recognising our people
Our Make Your Mark recognition program has continued to evolve this year with our inaugural CEO Awards event held in August 2018. The awards celebrated 80 employees and volunteers who received recognition for the significant contributions they made to the success of our organisation in 2018/19.
Thanks to our engagement surveys and workshops, we now have an unprecedented level of insights that we can use to improve our staff and volunteers’ experiences. Next year, we will put this valuable feedback into action in several exciting ways, extending on existing programs and introducing new initiatives. We will also implement our new Diversity and Inclusion strategy, Being Me @ NSWCC.
You can find out more about working or volunteering with us on our website.
Workforce profileAcross 2018/19, our average workforce was:
- 1,773 registered volunteers
- 365 employees*