Chair's Report

A Year Like No Other

It’s been a year like no other—a time that’s tested even the most optimistic souls. As the world faced the most virulent pandemic of the modern era, fuelled by an increasingly large and mobile human population, business as usual became business unusual. Pivoting, adapting, shifting, and reimagining became the buzzwords of the year, and success was measured in new terms as individuals, businesses, organisations, and governments sought to find ways to go forward.

The past year also shone a light on the vital role of science, medical research, and epidemiology, thrusting scientists and health policymakers into the public eye. And while health workers were hailed as heroes, they also experienced stress, pressure and burnout placing major pressures on our workforce, with obvious implications for the community.

Like many people, I found myself looking for silver linings among the hardships and chaos. Undoubtedly, one positive, is the resilience within this alliance.

As this annual report shows, from the achievements of the Strategic Research Plan 2017-20 to the success of a business case that resulted in a further $27 million investment from the Victorian Government, and the extraordinary collaborations of hundreds of people to craft the ambitious new Strategic Program Plan - our alliance is durable and unwavering.

Evolving to the VCCC Alliance

This year, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre joint venture formally evolved its name to become the VCCC Alliance.  This change reflects the growth and maturity of the alliance, and the collaborative ways that we tackle cancer in Victoria.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre building is an iconic and practical representation of the importance of integrated cancer research, education, and clinical care. But the VCCC is much more than a building. 

We are an alliance of stakeholders that extends far beyond the building, and so the addition of the word, ‘Alliance’, is a fitting change to reflect our partnership network.

VCCC Alliance member SGV 2021 A4

The notion of a VCCC Alliance helps us to embrace our purpose, with the aim of improving outcomes for all Victorians—including those in regional and rural areas, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We have much to do to ensure that all Victorians benefit from the advances in cancer research and education that should inform cancer care everywhere.  I believe, however, that the programs we have in place, and the talented and passionate people leading them, will help us to achieve this ambition.  Equity is a key priority area in the new Strategic Program Plan and will remain an important indicator of the success of the VCCC Alliance.

Commitment and vision

rob thomas

Outgoing Deputy Chair Professor Robert Thomas OAM.

Complex challenges require coordinated system change and leadership.  It is therefore fitting to pay tribute to our outgoing Deputy Chair, Professor Robert Thomas OAM, someone with a deep commitment to health equity and a champion of research, education, and clinical excellence.

Bob stepped down after five years on the Board, and many tireless years prior—a key contributor in the genesis of the VCCC. We are grateful for his dedication and the insight he contributed to the VCCC. Professor Thomas’ legacy endures.

I’m pleased that Bob, along with former board members Professor Doug Hilton AO and Professor Tony Burgess AC, were recognised this year as the inaugural VCCC Alliance Fellows, and will continue to support us with their experience and wisdom.

I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Professor Grant McArthur, the VCCC Alliance Board, the distributed leadership group, our dedicated staff team, and everyone who contributed to our exceptional progress this past year.  We experienced a particularly demanding time, and I acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of our people amid so many changes and personal pressures.

I would particularly like to recognise the work of our consumers, who’ve been instrumental in ensuring that our work remains relevant.

The Board is grateful to our many collaborators across the cancer sector who’ve reached out to help build stronger networks of support. 

I extend a special thank you to the Victorian Government for their generous funding and ongoing belief in our ambitious and important work.

The past year has tested us, and we continue to navigate uncharted waters. 

We offer our sympathies to families who grieve the loss of someone they love. We acknowledge the dedication and indefatigable efforts of our health professional colleagues who’ve responded with compassion and innovative problem-solving, to meet the needs of the cancer community.  

We’ve been heartened by the major advances in science achieved this past year—a true triumph of research collaboration, affirming the importance of community and connection: two things at the heart of this alliance.

Emeritus Professor Linda Kristjanson AO
Chair, VCCC Alliance