Chairperson's Report

What does it mean to be a future-ready comprehensive cancer centre?

To me it means that a concept has been proven, goals are clear, critical runs are on the board, key relationships are established and momentum has gathered. Future-ready means we have our eye on the prize and the tools we need to win it – including the right mindset.

For the VCCC the target is better outcomes for patients with cancer. As most people reading this will appreciate, there is a lot of complexity hidden in that simple statement. To get there we need to convert the potential of cutting-edge therapies (immunotherapy, genomics and personalised medicine) into active, accessible treatments for more Victorians. We need to get new research out of labs and reports into practice efficiently and effectively. We need more clinical trials and more people participating. We need to pool and share resources, including data. All this requires intelligent leadership and collaborations that really work towards shared goals.

I am delighted that the VCCC alliance has made genuine headway in all these areas over the past few years – and the last 12 months, in particular.

Exponential effect of education

One of the most fundamental components in a progressive, ambitious undertaking such as the VCCC, is the capacity and capability of the people involved.

Underpinning this is education: the means by which we share knowledge and skills that then unlocks potential, translates concepts to practice, sparks ideas, and makes more possible.

As a comprehensive cancer alliance, education is a key pillar for the VCCC. Since the VCCC’s Strategic Research Plan was rolled out in 2017, VCCC education and training activities have reached 28,000 participants across the state and beyond. The result of this is an increasingly skilled, capable and knowledgeable cancer workforce.

As our alliance grows and matures, we can draw on this growing collective wisdom and apply it to the achievement of our goals and vision. We are already seeing the transformative effects that occur when this pool of talented people come together and collaborate to achieve a shared goal.

Poised for impact

Over the past year, the VCCC has embarked on a major program of strategic future planning, including blue sky thinking sessions, a comprehensive evaluation of our programs with assessment by an independent external review panel, and extensive consultation forums. We now have a clear strategy and are poised to expand the benefits to reach more Victorians.

This is possible thanks to the commitment of contributors from across the VCCC alliance members and the sector. Thank you to my fellow Board Directors and the dedicated and passionate staff team led by Professor Grant McArthur. We also acknowledge the ongoing support of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Victorian Government.

Our VCCC alliance is future-ready. We are changing the way we tackle cancer in Victoria. Over the next few years I believe we will make headway on key issues including reducing the disparity of outcomes for patients in regional areas and other vulnerable populations.

Finally, it has been wonderful to see the VCCC working with other leading cancer organisations to coordinate the cancer sector’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the state. The new Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Network (VCCN) is providing unification, reassurance and sector-specific support during the time of crisis for cancer professionals across the State. This is an excellent demonstration of the true value and potential of collaboration.

We look forward to working with our extended community as we continue our endeavour to overcome cancer together.

Professor Linda Kristjanson AO
Chair, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre