Annual Report





As a community-funded organisation we are dedicated to reducing the impact of cancer, and ensuring our programs and services reach communities throughout NSW.

In 2017/18 we saw a significant increase in demand for our support services. With 48,000 new cases of cancer expected to be diagnosed each year in NSW, and improvements in treatments helping more people live longer with or after cancer, the need for our support will continue to grow.

We would like to thank all our volunteers, supporters and employees for their passion and commitment to our cause. We are privileged to have such a hardworking group of people committed to a cancer free future.

Jeff Mitchell, CEO and Mark Phillips, Chair
Cancer Council NSW



This is a snapshot of what we have achieved this year, with our community’s help, in reducing the impact of cancer.

2,845 registered volunteers generously donated over 270,000 hours of their time, making up 83% of our workforce at a value of almost $10 million.

We contributed $18.7 million towards cancer research this year, across 292 researchers, 72 projects and 18 institutions.

Guided by our research, a new cervical screening program was rolled out nationally. We predict this will lead to a 51% decrease in cervical cancer incidence by 2035.

467 professional organisations volunteered their expertise, providing over $1.5 million worth of legal, workplace, financial planning and small business accounting advice to people affected by cancer.

Our Transport toTreatment drivers volunteered over 26,000 hours, driving almost 1 million kilometres across NSW to make sure cancer patients could get to treatment.

Working in collaboration with other prominent health organisations, we ensured that e-cigarettes are treated the same way as regular cigarettes and included in the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000.

We supported 2,994 people affected by cancer in acute financial hardship with over $940,000 worth of financial assistance payments, and our financial counsellors helped waive over $163,000 of their debt.

The SunSmart program had its biggest year yet, reaching over 90% of early childhood centres, over 80% of primary schools and more than half of out of school hours care services.

30,991 CanAct Community members continued to influence what politicians do about cancer.

The I Care for Palliative Care campaign won the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Advocacy with Impact Award.

We provided cancer support and information when and where people needed it

information icon

16,451 episodes of The Thing About Cancer podcasts were downloaded or streamed.

53,120 people visited the Cancer Council Online Community to participate in cancer-related discussions, connect with others and share their stories.

Over 210,000 Understanding Cancer resources were distributed.

10,440 calls and emails were received by Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support.

We are the only organisation in Australia that works across every area of every cancer.

Our work

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 non-government organisation in Australia. Here in NSW, thanks to our supporters, we invested $18.7 million in 2017/18.

Pathways to a cancer free future

Our team of researchers is working on a long-term program called Pathways to a cancer free future (Pathways) to identify where the greatest impact can be made in reducing the burden of cancer, and ultimately save more lives.

This research brings together experts and policymakers who use innovative predictive modelling research across six areas: cervix, prostate, lung, bowel and breast cancer, and cancers related to Lynch syndrome. Data from Pathways will help us to focus on areas with the greatest potential to improve cancer outcomes, and will underpin our prevention, information and support, and advocacy programs.

Eliminating cervical cancer

During 2017/18, we investigated the impact of Australia’s renewed cervical screening program, which came into place on 1 December 2017, on incidence and mortality in Australian women. The study showed that between now and 2035, switching to HPV screening is expected to prevent over 2,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer, saving the lives of 587 women.

This was the first study to evaluate the long- and short-term impact of the new program and estimated health outcomes for the 20 years after the transition. Our model predicts a 51% decrease in cervical cancer incidence in Australia by 2035.

Cervical cancer mortality rates are also expected to fall in the long-term: the study predicts they will remain stable until about 2020, but then decline by 45% by 2035.

Reversing chemo resistance in lung cancer

With our funding support, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has investigated how to make chemotherapy more effective in treating lung cancer.

Lung adenocarcinoma is the most common type of lung cancer, and most patients will be treated with chemotherapy that includes cisplatin. However, lung adenocarcinoma is often resistant to cisplatin, and the team discovered this is caused by a molecule called activin.

By blocking activin with a naturally occurring hormone called follistatin, resistance to cisplatin chemotherapy can be reversed in the lab. The team is now developing follistatin for clinical trials.

Improving the effectiveness of cisplatin chemotherapy has the potential to improve quality of life for people with lung cancer.

Funding world-class research

Through our PhD program, this year we supervised 15 PhD students, including five who received Cancer Council NSW scholarships to complete their research. We saw five students complete their thesis during 2017/18.

As well as supporting our own researchers, every year we award grants to leading research teams. In 2018, we awarded funding to 17 new projects worth $10.6 million over the next five years.

Determining the cost of cancer

This year our researchers investigated the cost of cancer to Australia’s health services, the first comprehensive study conducted in Australia from diagnosis to end of life.

The estimated cost of cancer in 2013 was approximately $6.3 billion. The highest costs were associated with:

  • bowel cancer: $1.1 billion
  • breast cancer: $800 million
  • lung cancer: $600 million
  • prostate cancer: $500 million

This information will help policymakers and health experts prioritise future healthcare funding, assess the cost-effectiveness of strategies to reduce the impact of cancer, and plan for future costs.


Find out more about our work in cancer research

Case Study: This is Associate Professor Ilona Juraskova

She is a psycho-oncologist and supportive care researcher.

I am passionate about helping cancer patients and their families on their path to survivorship, and my expertise is in developing and evaluating psychosocial interventions to help make positive and meaningful changes to people’s quality of life.

Recognising that family carers play a key role in cancer care, our latest research program aims to empower and better support the patient’s family.

We know that when family carers are supported, patients have better psychological and physical outcomes. This is why it’s important to provide carers with skills and strategies, so they feel more confident when communicating with health professionals, advocating for their loved ones, as well as taking care of themselves.

Together with Dr Rebekah Laidsaar-Powell and Professor Phyllis Butow, we’ve developed the world-first evidence-based practical guidelines, with accompanying training videos, to help cancer doctors and nurses more effectively engage with family carers.

The funding from Cancer Council NSW and Cancer Australia means that we are now able to transform these guidelines into online education programs, and test their effectiveness in enhancing clinician-family communication in consultations and in cancer care in general.

Facing a life-threatening illness can be incredibly stressful and disorienting for everyone involved. By empowering clinicians, patients and their family to work together in partnership, we can make cancer diagnosis and its aftermath easier to navigate and cope with.

Reducing cancer in the NSW community by encouraging and supporting people to lead healthy, cancer-smart lifestyles

Preventing cancer is one of the most effective ways of creating a cancer free future. We encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles to help reduce their cancer risk. Our programs and policy work focus on the three areas where we can make the biggest difference: tobacco control, sun protection and nutrition.

Reducing harm from tobacco

Tobacco smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for many cancers, causing one in five of all cancer deaths in Australia. In 2017/18, our Tackling Tobacco program worked with 38 community organisations to help groups where smoking rates remain high to quit. This includes people experiencing severe mental illness or homelessness and people on very low incomes or who are unemployed.

As part of our commitment to improving cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year Cancer Council NSW held the second Dadirri Yarning Circle. Dadirri is an Aboriginal term that means ‘deep listening’, and this event brought together our regional employees and 30 partners from local Aboriginal Health Services in a culturally welcoming space to discuss ways they can address smoking in their communities.

This year, we also continued to support a precautionary approach to e-cigarettes. Working in collaboration with the Heart Foundation and other prominent health organisations, we successfully called on the NSW Government to ban e-cigarette use in smoke-free public

Improving sun protection

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, affecting two in three people who grow up in Australia. Developing cancer-smart behaviours in young children can significantly reduce their risk of skin cancer later in life. Our SunSmart program uniquely supports early childhood centres and primary schools across NSW to help protect students and staff from overexposure to UV radiation. This year, the program reached over 90% of all early childhood centres, over 80% of primary schools and more than half of all out of school hours care services in NSW.

Men over the age of 40 are one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma and two and a half times more likely to die from it than women of a similar age. With funding of $450,000 over three years from the Cancer Institute NSW, we connected with this target group through Improve Your Long Game, a program supporting golf clubs to encourage good sun protection behaviours among players.

This year, we partnered with 111 golf clubs in NSW and 97% of these clubs successfully implemented the program, using our fact sheets, posters and sunscreen dispenser stands.

Preventing cancer through healthy eating

Eating a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of a number of cancers. However, only one in two Australians eat the recommended two serves of fruit each day, and less than one in 10 eat five serves of vegetables.

To help parents prepare healthy meals for their families, this year we launched the Healthy Lunch Box website. The website offers recipe ideas for nutritious and easy lunches, plus an interactive Lunch Box Builder tool to encourage children to choose what they eat. In 2017/18, more than 660,000 people visited the Healthy Lunch Box website and we reached more than 1 million people through social media.

During the year we made the difficult decision to stop delivering the Eat It To Beat It program. Since it began in 2008, the program has taught more than 69,500 parents how to pack a healthy lunch box and include more fruit and vegetables in the family diet. Despite significant volunteer support, the workforce required to maintain the program was not sustainable. We thank everyone involved with the Eat It To Beat It program and we acknowledge their contribution in helping families make healthier food choices.

To ensure our work is financially sustainable while continuing to have maximum impact, the past year also saw some other areas of our prevention work winding down, including Healthy Sports Initiative, Sun Sound and 1 in 3 Cancers campaign activity.


Find out more about our work in cancer prevention

Case Study: This is Paul Gow

prevention case study - meet paulHe is a professional golfer and ambassador for Cancer Council’s Improve Your Long Game program.

When you’re playing golf, you can be out in the sun for hours during peak UV times. I was surprised to learn that in NSW, UV radiation can damage unprotected skin for at least 10 months of the year. The good news is that nearly all skin cancers are preventable, and that’s why practising good sun protection is so important.

So, I make sun protection a part of my game prep, checking I have all the right gear, complete with a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and long sleeves.

Cancer Council NSW has developed a great approach through the Improve Your Long Game program, which helps create a supportive sun protection environment for golf clubs and helps golfers protect their skin while they are out on the course.

I’m passionate about my role as an ambassador for this program, because it’s never too late to reduce your risk of skin cancer. For us blokes over 40, it’s really important that we protect our skin, to make sure we can keep having good times for many years to come.

I have loved golf since I was a child, and it has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life. Now it makes me proud to use my profile to raise awareness about skin cancer and encourage other golfers to change their sun protection habits for the better.

Empowering and supporting people affected by cancer, so that no one need face cancer alone

We provide practical and emotional support as well as evidence-based information about cancer to help people cope better with cancer. More people are living longer after a cancer diagnosis, making ongoing support crucial. We make multiple referrals between our support services and programs to meet the range of challenges a cancer diagnosis can bring.

Partnering with service providers to grow our practical support programs

A cancer diagnosis can cause a range of legal and financial concerns or difficulty getting to treatment. This year we helped more people with emergency financial assistance and financial counselling than ever before. During 2017/18 our Financial Navigation program received 1,804 calls, including case discussions with social workers and health professionals, and referrals from Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support. We continued to partner with professional organisations, who volunteered over $1.5 million worth of their expertise. We also expanded our financial support services to include financial counselling on personal budgets and finances.

The Home Help service, offering financial help with home cleaning and gardening services to people undergoing cancer treatment, expanded from the Hunter region to a NSW-wide trial. We enrolled 397 people for outsourced domestic duties to the value of $124,550. With generous funding of $97,050 from the Greater Charitable Foundation, our face-to-face financial counselling expanded from Metro Sydney and Greater Western Sydney areas to include our Hunter Central Coast region.

Supporting emotional needs

Research shows that people affected by cancer can benefit from talking to others who have been through a similar cancer experience. Through our peer support program people can connect over the phone, online, face-to-face, one-to-one or in groups.

A survey of people who accessed our Cancer Connect telephone peer support service found that 90% felt reassured by the experience and nearly as many felt better informed, less isolated and more able to cope.

We continued to collaborate with Myeloma Australia, Pancare Foundation and Melanoma Patients Australia to increase the number of targeted Telephone Support Groups and find new ways to grow participation in our peer support programs.

The Cancer Council Online Community hosted 53,120 visits, and received the 2017 Lithium Not for Profit Award in recognition of our use of the Lithium digital platform to provide high quality cancer resources and support.

Reaching more people through our reliable information

We know how important it is for people to access accurate and up-to-date information about cancer, in a format that suits them. In 2017/18 we released season two of our podcast series The Thing About Cancer, with an additional six episodes.

Presented by renowned Australian broadcaster Julie McCrossin, the podcasts feature expert health professionals, who volunteered their time, and insights from people affected by cancer.

The Thing About Cancer was a finalist in the Australian Podcast Awards (Branded category). As a finalist, we were invited to submit an episode to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Preparing people affected by cancer for life after treatment

Many survivors face challenges returning to their regular routines after cancer treatment. We redeveloped our survivorship services to deliver a more sustainable program called ENRICHing Survivorship, which brings together exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and peer support.

In 2017/18 participation in ENRICHing Survivorship significantly increased by 117%. The 40 statewide programs were attended by 658 cancer survivors, carers, partners and family members. Partnering with treatment centres helped us offer more programs at a minimal cost to Cancer Council.


Find out more about our information and support services

Case Study: This is Alka Bisen

Info and support case study - AlkaShe is a Financial Counsellor at Cancer Council NSW.

I’ve worked in cancer care for over 30 years and I continue to look for new opportunities to reduce the financial distress for my clients.

This year we provided financial counselling to 144 people affected by cancer, including Sarah.*

Sarah was referred to us by the social worker at her treatment centre with unpaid utility bills and multiple credit card debts, and an end-of-life illness to manage. She was only 36 years old with two young children when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before her diagnosis, both Sarah and her husband worked full time, but afterwards Sarah could no longer work, and her husband had to reduce his work hours to care for the family.

After speaking with Sarah, I referred her to our Emergency Financial Assistance program and our Home Help service. Through financial assistance the total value of $1,750 was arranged to help cover unpaid electricity, water and telephone bills. Over four months, I negotiated with creditors on Sarah’s behalf to waive $25,000 of credit card debt. She was also able to receive cleaning services to help her family while she was unwell.

Sarah and her family also needed to think about end-of-life issues like insurance, superannuation and preparing a will. I put her in touch with our Pro Bono Legal and Financial program for guidance with these concerns.

My motivation to keep supporting those affected by cancer comes from hearing my clients’ relief after getting assistance and support from Cancer Council.

* Name has been changed to protect identity.

Ensuring that governments take action to reduce cancer risk and improve access to care and treatment

We know that sometimes government policies do not reflect available evidence about cancer prevention and access to care and treatment. We bring evidence and people together to help influence changes in policy, funding and legislation. We work closely with our 31,000 strong CanAct Community to influence what politicians do about cancer.

Ensuring better palliative care services in NSW

In 2017, the I Care for Palliative Care campaign called on the NSW Government to fund additional specialist palliative care nurses and doctors and provide culturally appropriate palliative care for Aboriginal communities. In response to this campaign and related efforts by the Push for Palliative campaign, the NSW Government committed an additional $100 million to improving palliative care services over a four-year period.

Following this campaign win, we were invited to consult with the NSW Ministry of Health on best ways to use this funding to improve palliative care services. During 2017/18 our employees and CanAct members were involved in the development of the state government’s NSW End of Life and Palliative Care Framework, including contributing to consultation workshops and online community surveys.

The I Care for Palliative Care campaign won the Advocacy with Impact category for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Awards. This award recognises outstanding work by UICC members in developing and implementing impactful advocacy campaigns.

Preparing for the next NSW Government election

The lead-up to the NSW state election in March 2019 is an ideal opportunity to progress our vision of a cancer free future. We know that for our election campaign priorities to succeed, they need to be evidence-based, within the power of the next NSW Government to change, and have the support of the CanAct advocacy community.

To determine our election priorities, we assessed evidence and the current policy environment, and involved CanAct members and Cancer Council employees. We have also consulted with external stakeholders, including academics, clinical experts and NSW Government representatives. As a result our election priorities are:

  • reducing harm from smoking through changes to smoke-free legislation and tobacco retailing
  • reducing junk food advertising to children
  • improving services for people with lymphoedema.

These focus areas are outlined in our Saving Life 2019: NSW Election Priorities document, which will be shared with MPs and candidates across NSW. This features messages that have been developed and tested with the community. The delivery of the campaign is supported with a statewide campaign plan.

As the experiences of people affected by the issues have a strong impact on decision-makers, we have collected stories and developed short videos to use throughout the campaign.

Building our advocacy capacity

Cancer Council’s Cancer Advocacy Networks – made up of passionate local volunteers who are supported by regional employees – are critical to the success of our advocacy campaigns. We held a two-day leadership forum in February to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of 30 network leaders and employees and prepare them for the Saving Life 2019 campaign. We also continued to build our CanAct Community involvement by providing Community Advocacy Training and MP Liaison Training.


Find out more about our work in advocacy

Case Study: This is Angela Lonergan

advocacy story angelaShe is a CanAct Community member and advocate for better public lymphoedema services.

Lymphoedema never goes away. It’s a condition I have to manage every day – through bandaging, compression garments and lymphatic massage treatment – for the rest of my life.

When diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, I had a bilateral mastectomy and axillary lymph node clearance surgery as part of my treatment. Afterwards I developed lymphoedema, a condition that causes swelling in parts of the body, often as a result of cancer treatment.

Back then, I wasn’t able to get the treatment for lymphoedema I needed at my local public hospital, so I decided to see a private therapist. But it was expensive – each visit cost $120, and I’ve spent more than $4,000 on private lymphoedema treatment over the past three years.

I have been diagnosed with breast cancer again and had to stop lymphoedema treatment while having chemotherapy. I haven’t resumed private treatment because it’s too expensive or not located near me.

I really wish I’d had access earlier to lymphoedema support services through my local public clinic. That’s why I’m campaigning for better public services, so people like me can get help when and where they need it.

I am actively involved in the CanAct Community and we will be working hard in the lead-up to the state election to secure more funding for public lymphoedema services. I have had to be my own advocate to get treatment for this chronic condition and I want to make it easier for others with lymphoedema now and in the future.

Helping us get closer to a cancer free future with the help of our generous community supporters

Fundraising is essential for delivering our research, prevention, information and support, and advocacy programs. We receive over 94% of our funds from the community. We simply wouldn’t exist without the thousands of people across NSW who donate and raise funds for us every year.

Working in a challenging fundraising environment

The number of people making donations across Australia is falling – and so are the financial returns from investment in fundraising.1 In particular, cash giving and fundraising campaigns experienced a decline for the second consecutive year and are weakening across the charity sector.2 While we have a strong fundraising portfolio and thousands of dedicated supporters, charity sector trends still affect us. Our fundraising income overall declined by 16% in 2017/18. This was most significantly affected by the revenue from those leaving us a gift in their will, which declined by 42%.

1 McLeod J, Evolution of Philanthropy, JB Were, 2018 [cited 26 October 2018]. Available from: dam/jbwere/documents/JBWere-Support-Report-2018.pdf
2 Pareto Fundraising, Benchmarking report 2017, 2017 [cited 26 October 2018]. Available from: www.paretofundraising. com/pareto-benchmarking-2017

Adapting our revenue streams

To ensure the sustainability of our organisation, we continue to develop additional ways for the community to support our work.

Since 2016, we have been investing in new fundraising campaigns to ensure we have a strong portfolio well into the future, and during 2017/18 there was an increase in revenue across many of these new campaigns. The March Charge increased 74% and STARS along with other community-led fundraisers through Do It For Cancer increased 32%, compared to 2016/17.

This year, we continued to grow our relationships with our corporate partners, trusts and foundations, and major donors to create sustainable, long-term partnerships. In 2017/18, their contributions raised $3.2 million, an increase of 40% since 2016/17.

During 2017/18 we also invested in new technologies to improve our digital capabilities. In the long-term, this will reduce our overall cost of fundraising, and will help personalise our communications. Each supporter will hear about what interests them the most, at the right time and in the right way.

Thank you to our supporters

The support of our donors and fundraisers is vital for us to continue reducing the impact of cancer across NSW. We thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to a cancer free future.

While fundraising has been more challenging, the generosity of our individual supporters still accounted for almost two-thirds of the overall funds raised through fundraising this year. These donations, including one-off donations, leaving a gift in memory of a loved one, or leaving a gift in their will, contributed $34.8 million in 2017/18.

Our iconic fundraising campaigns including Daffodil Day and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea continue to be some of the most recognised in Australia. These rely on the tireless commitment of our event hosts, volunteers and supporters, and this year they helped raise $20.3 million.


Find out more about our fundraising activities and how to get involved

Fundraising highlights

Working with the NSW community

Our vision of a cancer free future can only be achieved with the power and support of our local communities. We work with them to make sure that our programs and services meet their needs and to help them continue to raise vital funds.

We rely on their local knowledge and commitment to help us carry out our lifesaving work, and we are so grateful for their support right across NSW. These are just a few of their stories.

Key to map

Our network of offices, retail stores and information and support services across metro, regional, rural and remote NSW.

13 Cancer Council NSW Offices
23 Cancer Information Services
34 Transport to Treatment Services
5 Patient Accommodation Services
7 Retail Stores

Discover our Community

Click on the map to read stories from our supporters across NSW

Key to map

Our network of offices, retail stores and information and support services across metro, regional, rural and remote NSW.

13 Cancer Council NSW Offices
23 Cancer Information Services
34 Transport to Treatment Services
5 Patient Accommodation Services
7 Retail Stores
ccnsw nsw community map


Relating to people with cancer in western NSW

Al Pottie from Wagga Wagga was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2010, and since then has become dedicated to supporting others with cancer.
He volunteers with Cancer Council as a Living Well After Cancer facilitator, Cancer Connect partner and Community Speaker. Al is passionate about explaining the breadth of our programs and services, and connecting people with the help they need. He is also a dedicated committee member of the Wagga Wagga Relay For Life where he works hard to ensure local survivors and carers are celebrated.

Greater Western Sydney

Greater Western Sydney

Celebrating 15 years of Blacktown Relay For Life

In a show of dedication and support for the 15th Blacktown Relay For Life, local Cancer Council Information Service volunteers and the Relay’s organising committee took part in a number of promotional days at Blacktown Hospital, proudly wearing their Relay jerseys and holding a purple-themed morning tea.

Dougal Bear visited the hospital, a giant HOPE sign was erected in the cafeteria, and administration employees at the Cancer Centre also donned purple jerseys and helped spread the word. The Blacktown Relay For Life was very successful, raising almost $115,000.

Hunter Central Coast

Hunter Central Coast

Researching personalised chemotherapy at The University of Newcastle

Professor Jennifer Martin from The University of Newcastle received a grant from Cancer Council this year, to conduct research into personalised chemotherapy dosing.
Professor Martin’s project will test how new technologies can be used to monitor the level of chemotherapy in a patient’s blood in real time. This will allow doctors to adjust doses and achieve the ideal concentration level, leading to significant benefits for patients including better quality of life, fewer side effects and increased chance of survival.



Providing support on Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Sydney local Merryn McLachlan is a breast cancer survivor who found great comfort in yoga and meditation throughout her cancer treatment.
She runs Soul Safaris, offering meditation walks and retreats for women. After participating in our Support Group Leader Training, she expanded the business to provide free guided meditation walks for women affected by cancer. This year, Merryn also danced up a storm on stage at Stars of the Beaches, raising $5,000 for Cancer Council. She is a valued supporter and was one of the faces of our 2018 Daffodil Day campaign



Engaging the Byron Bay community in our cause

Nerida Dean from the Far North Coast volunteers for many Cancer Council programs and events to raise funds and awareness in her community, and believes in speaking up for people affected by cancer.
Nerida is a tireless advocate and MP Liaison, currently working on our Saving Life 2019 campaign. This year she also celebrated her 15th Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea with a large gathering in Kingscliff.



Tackling Tobacco in southern NSW

The Katungul Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Narooma are focusing on tobacco use in their community, to reduce the impact smoking can have among Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people.
Katungul employees partnered with Cancer Council’s Tackling Tobacco program this year. To kick things off, a wide range of employees participated in training to learn how to navigate discussions about quitting smoking. Katungul are also working on new organisational policies to support clients and employees alike, in working towards a smoke-free future.

Our people

At the heart of what we do are our volunteers and employees, who work together every day towards a cancer free future. Our people are our greatest asset, and we value their commitment, passion and contribution to our lifesaving work. We’re here to support them, by providing a safe and inspirational work environment that celebrates achievements and recognises talent.

Workforce profile

As at June 2018

2,845 Registered volunteers (83%)

404 Employees * (17%)

*Permanent and contract employees (excluding casuals)

Bringing our people together

We have a highly committed and diverse workforce of employees working across every area of every cancer, and volunteers who generously give their time and expertise to make things happen.

In 2017/18 we focused on recognising the valuable contribution of our volunteers by holding our first Volunteer Connect event series. These events aimed to connect volunteers with the employees they work alongside to share knowledge and celebrate the work they do.

There were five Volunteer Connect events held across our six regions in NSW, attended by a total of 330 regular volunteers and many employees. We received positive feedback, with 96% of respondents feeling more connected to Cancer Council after attending a Volunteer Connect event.

Streamlining our recognition program

In 2017/18 we launched our new recognition program, Make Your Mark. This provides a number of ways for employees and volunteers to recognise each other’s achievements and celebrate those who have demonstrated our organisational values of innovation, responsibility, courage and collaboration.

Make Your Mark culminates in the CEO Awards, to celebrate volunteers and employees (individuals and teams) who have gone above and beyond throughout the year. This year, the awards were announced when 34 finalists attended a special luncheon hosted by our CEO Jeff Mitchell.

Creating a safety culture

We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our people and those we work alongside in the community by providing a safe work environment, with a strong focus on health and wellbeing.

We foster and promote a risk management culture and have reviewed and revised our Work, Health and Safety (WHS) policies and procedures. Building on this foundation, this year we delivered both face-to-face and online WHS training, which a majority of our employees have completed. This work is reflected in our 2017/18 WHS outcomes, with no workers compensation claims lodged and 90% of incidents and injuries reported within 24 hours. We have also implemented positive performance indicators to measure our safety culture.

Safe behaviour and safety leadership is encouraged and valued. This year, our leaders participated in a mock court experience that simulated a WHS prosecution, demonstrating the importance of proactively striving for a safe and healthy workplace. This experience challenged attitudes and behaviours to WHS at a management level and reinforced the importance of WHS management systems and personal accountability.

Promoting wellness

In April 2018 we conducted a Wellness Survey to measure awareness of and engagement with the variety of wellness benefits offered. We found that over 70% of respondents were aware of the current wellness offerings, with healthy eating options and flexible work arrangements most frequently used. Respondents rated their current wellness level at 60% but said they would like to reach 80%.

These results showed high awareness of the benefits on offer as well as opportunities to increase uptake and build on our wellness program with new activities such as mindfulness and meditation.

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people


Explanation of RAP symbol
Designed by Marcus Lee, a descendant of the Karajarri people. The visual concept is an interpretation of an Indigenous styled daffodil. The symbol of the daffodil is our trusted icon and is the international symbol for hope.

Reducing the impact of cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority for Cancer Council NSW. Aboriginal people are 60% more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal Australians according to our Aboriginal Patterns of Cancer Care study, with cancer being the second leading cause of death. This year we continued to work with Aboriginal communities and organisations to improve cancer outcomes.

Engaging with communities

In 2017/18 we engaged with local Aboriginal communities through our network of regional offices to provide cancer information, prevention programs and support services and training for Aboriginal cancer support group leaders. We worked with Aboriginal Medical Services to deliver our Tackling Tobacco program in a culturally appropriate way.

Aboriginal Scholarships

Studies show that Aboriginal people often avoid cancer screening and treatment – a major factor in the high mortality rate – because of a lack of culturally appropriate healthcare. This year we continued to fund our Indigenous Health Scholarships to help build the future Aboriginal health workforce.

  • The Norm Allan Cancer Council NSW Indigenous Health Scholarship, in partnership with UNSW and the University’s Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit, provides financial assistance for three years.
  • The MaryAnn Bin-Sallik Cancer Council NSW Indigenous Health Scholarship at the University of Wollongong assisted two students with their final year of study.
Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and Strategy Leadership Group

In late 2017 our RAP and Strategy Leadership Group was formed to develop Cancer Council NSW’s second Reconciliation Action Plan. Half of this group is made up of Aboriginal community representatives, with the other half consisting of Cancer Council employees including our CEO and senior leadership team.

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training

As part of our commitment to making Cancer Council a more welcoming and culturally safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, all Cancer Council NSW employees must attend an Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Workshop. The workshop helps employees develop their understanding of Aboriginal culture and learn culturally appropriate ways to communicate and connect with Aboriginal people. By June 2018 over 90% of employees had completed the training.

Our results

Before now, Cancer Council NSW had never spent as much as we raised from the community and this has helped us to build up reserves. But we know our supporters donate money for us to create a cancer free future, and this year we took a conscious decision to spend more on our mission. During the same period, we also experienced a decline in fundraising income, which has been challenging for the entire charity sector. These results have required us to make some changes across our organisation to ensure our sustainability and to meet the evolving needs of our community long into the future. These were tough decisions that were made after careful consideration.

Where the money comes from

How we put the money to work

What's next?

During 2018/19, work will begin on another stream of Pathways, focused on ovarian cancer. This is two years earlier than planned, thanks to the Fussell Family Foundation, which is committed to fully funding this stream for the next three years.

We remain committed to cancer prevention and in 2018/19 we will continue to identify ways to encourage the people of NSW to lead healthy, cancer-smart lifestyles such as through our NSW Cancer Prevention Community Survey.

To make sure we can be there for people with cancer when they need it most, we’re focusing on our Connected Care project. Over the next three years we will look at how to connect more people with our programs and services, by increasing referrals between cancer treatment centres and us

Our work on Saving Life 2019 means we now have evidence, a campaign plan, community stories and videos, and skilled, engaged Cancer Advocacy Networks and employees necessary for the campaign. This puts us in a strong position to drive the campaign and support local CanAct advocates to gain commitment for our priorities from all MPs and political parties before the next NSW state election.

The fundraising environment is changing, and we must continue to adapt. To do this, in 2018/19 we will fast-track the development of innovative campaigns to give people different ways to support us. Through our new technology and a renewed focus on our digital strategy, we will improve our supporter experience, making it easier for them to engage with us, donate, and access all our programs and services.