Fighting cancer

These measures continue the Australian Government’s unrelenting fight against cancer, with support for women and children with cancer, and continued funding for high-cost radiation therapy equipment in cancer treatment facilities.

Page last updated: 19 December 2016

Why is this important?

Australia is reducing the devastating impact of cancer. Our five year relative survival rate for all cancers combined is now 67 per cent, which is among the best in the world. These measures will help to continue the momentum.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Australian women. This year it is estimated that more than 16,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer, including more than 150 men. Funding for McGrath Breast Care Nurses will ensure continuing support for people being treated for breast cancer.

Up to 57 of the McGrath Foundation’s nurse positions will continue to be funded in approximately 55 locations, with most of these working in regional and rural communities. The nurses are a key link between the patient and the specialists, providing care and support and coordinating treatment.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Collaboration Network will mean a new level of collaboration in childhood cancer research in this country, using the latest technology to enable experts in hospitals and research centres across Australia to work together to better treat childhood cancer.

The network will focus on improving survival and quality of life for children who currently have no cure for their cancer. It will bring new hope to children with high risk cancer, through quicker diagnoses, speedier treatment decisions and improved health outcomes.

Changes will be made to the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme to ensure the Government can continue to contribute funding for radiation oncology equipment in a sustainable way. This is in response to the recommendations of an independent external review of the scheme in August 2016 and an Australian National Audit Office audit in May 2016. Through these changes, the Government will achieve administrative efficiencies by improving the administrative guidelines under which funding and approvals are made.

Treating cancer patients with radiation is highly successful. Approximately 40 per cent of cancer cures are attributed to radiotherapy. The Commonwealth’s continued role in this area is important to maintain affordable and timely patient access to effective treatments.

The outdated linear accelerator at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency will be replaced, so it can continue to ensure radiotherapy services are safe, accurate and high quality.

Who will benefit?

The four-year extension to the Government’s previous funding agreement with the McGrath Foundation will ensure valuable support and coordination of care continues for patients with breast cancer.

With McGrath Breast Care Nurses providing physical, psychological and emotional support, people diagnosed with breast cancer, their families and friends will benefit, starting from diagnosis and continuing throughout treatment.

The Zero Childhood Cancer Collaboration Network will initially involve 200 children across Australia with high risk or relapsed cancer, then move to a national rollout available to all children with high risk cancer in all children’s hospitals.

Researchers, doctors and cancer patients will all benefit by being able to use the latest technology to work together to deliver real-time discovery of the best individualised treatment for each cancer.

Continuing sustainable contributions to the funding of high-cost radiation equipment will benefit patients through affordable and reasonable accessibility to radiotherapy services.

Administrative changes in the capital funding processes will reduce the burden on providers of radiotherapy services to receive capital contributions from the Government.

Replacing the linear accelerator will maintain the Commonwealth’s leadership role in providing safe and high quality radiotherapy services.

How much will this cost?

Breast care nurses – $20.5 million from 2017–18 to 2020–21

Zero Childhood Cancer Collaboration Network – $20 million from 2016–17 to 2017–18

Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme – This will save $18.7 million from 2016–17 to 2019–20.