Executive Director's Report

Future-ready

The world is constantly changing and this year it changed in ways we could never have anticipated. It began with a palpable sense of optimism with the opening of the Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy based in the VCCC building. Immune-based therapies offer tremendous hope for many cancers, so the unification of research teams from across the alliance to work together in a shared space was cause for celebration.

The event, like other achievements during the year, further demonstrated the fundamental premise of the alliance – that we are, most certainly, better together.

Beyond the alliance

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary pressures on the health system, demanding rapid coordination.

These challenges have brought us closer together, strengthening relationships beyond the VCCC. The establishment of the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Network (VCCN) in collaboration with Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium, has supported clinical staff to help them to provide optimal care  in extraordinary circumstances. The participation of Cancer Council Victoria has enabled integrated outreach to patients and rapid access to data, as we work to mitigate delays that may impact on patients’ prognoses. This has been a terrific example of what collaboration can achieve.

Strategic Research Plan 2016-2020 success on many fronts 2020 marks the completion of our current Strategic Research Plan with significant progress in all areas. The collaborative strength of the alliance is enabling leverage of industry funding for important, transformative projects.

In collaboration with the Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre at the University of Melbourne, the first large-scale, comprehensive data linkage of detailed primary care, hospital and registry data for Victorian patients with cancer is now operational.

Through our collective expertise we are continuing to develop smart, innovative clinical trials to translate discoveries and improve patient health outcomes.

This year, 10,000 professionals and consumers connected with VCCC educational programs live and online. The second VCCC Research Conference in September 2019 brought together some of the best minds in cancer to discuss the big ideas in cancer control.

In a few months, the first Master of Cancer Sciences students will graduate. Theirs has been a rich, multidisciplinary learning experience with 180 subject matter experts contributing to the program.

The close relationships we have with consumers will continue to develop. The VCCC Consumer Engagement Forum and toolkit launch in 2019 preceded the introduction of a new consumer remuneration model this year.

State-wide collaboration and equity

Shortly, pending the Victorian State Government budget, work will roll out on another strategic plan, one which embraces what we have learned, and with greater emphasis on state-wide collaborations and equity. An external review of the VCCC commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2019 highlighted the progress we have made. Their findings, and our own extensive evaluation, will now help to inform the next exciting phase in our development.

Thank you to the VCCC Board, committees, distributed leadership and staff throughout the alliance for helping to shape a future built on such strong foundations.

Professor Grant McArthur
Executive Director