I am pleased to make a statement on the Cancer Council Victoria Annual Report 2015. I note from the outset that as a result of the Cancer Council Victoria’s conversion to a company limited by guarantee on 1 October 2015, the financial reports are for the period 1 January to 30 September 2015 only.
The cancer council continued to play a crucial role in conducting cancer research as well as in cancer-related support, prevention and advocacy. The importance of the work the cancer council does and has done was demonstrated in 2015 by the release of research on the effects of plain packaging of cigarettes in its first year of operation — a dramatic success and something that was introduced after much lobbying by the Cancer Council.
The cancer council launched a number of initiatives in 2015, including the Australian Breakthrough Cancer Study, aimed at recruiting 50 000 Australians to study the causes of cancer and other diseases. Another initiative was the Forgotten Cancers Project, aimed at improving knowledge and producing better outcomes for patients with less common forms of cancer.
During the coming year the council plans to do further work in promoting awareness about the links between obesity and cancer. Given that the cancer council data shows that there are 37 000 preventable cases of cancer every year in Australia, this will be part of a wider initiative to better inform Victorians about how to go about reducing their cancer risk.
Sadly we know that 10 700 Victorians die from cancer every year and that 84 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer every single day. However, the good news is that at least in part thanks to the research conducted by or under the auspices of the cancer council five-year survival rates for cancer sufferers have increased by 19 per cent in the last 25 years.
The cancer council received $31.3 million from donations and other fundraising, including retail; $18.6 million from government; and $3.9 million from other sources during the course of the year. Of this, 25 per cent went to cancer research, 30 per cent went to cancer prevention and 5 per cent went to support for cancer victims, with the remainder going to fundraising and other administrative costs.
The cancer council also launched its reconciliation action plan in February 2015, which seeks to address the disproportionately high cancer rates experienced by Indigenous Victorians. As we seek to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the cancer council’s efforts to do so in the area of cancer are particularly commendable. They provide a range of culturally appropriate services and materials aimed at reducing Indigenous cancer rates. Overall mortality rates are also significantly higher than the general population for both men and women, and this is another area that the plan seeks to address.
On the subject of plain packaging, which I have previously mentioned, which is a signature achievement of the cancer council, the results are in. It is now proven that this initiative is reducing tobacco consumption and in doing so is saving lives. Research funded by the cancer council showed that smokers dislike the packaging and it contributed to a more negative perception of tobacco products, as well as reinforcing the idea that all tobacco products irrespective of brand are equally harmful.
As this report demonstrates, Cancer Council Victoria continues to play a leading role in promoting cancer research, prevention and care. Given the lives of so many Victorians are, have been or will be touched by cancer, this role is a crucial one, and I thank the management and staff there for all of their efforts in the past year and commend this report to the house.