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06 Feb 2019
Opinion Piece

We will... involve consumers in all we do

  • Murdoch Children's Research Institute
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Royal Children's Hospital
  • Alfred Health
  • Cancer Council Victoria
  • Monash University

February 2019

One of the privileges of my role as Executive Director of the VCCC is the vantage point it provides to recognise and celebrate the relentless pursuit of excellence within our alliance partner organisations and the Victorian cancer community. This week many of you will have celebrated the success of friends and colleagues who were awarded an Australia Day honour. 

I had the great pleasure to read the Honours list from an academic, research, clinical and translational perspective and it was incredibly inspiring to see so many diverse and dedicated colleagues acknowledged for their work. Two of our VCCC colleagues were among the nineteen people to have received the highest honour this year, the Companion of the Order of Australia. On behalf of VCCC Board members, congratulations to Professor Kathryn North, Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital and VCCC Board member for eminent service to genomic medicine nationally and internationally, to medical research in the fields of genetics, neurology and child health, and as a mentor and role model. Congratulations are also extended to Emeritus Professor Richard Larkins, Chancellor LaTrobe University and former Chair of the VCCC Board for eminent service to medicine and medical research, to education through academic leadership, to public health care, and to the community.

Victorian women were well represented in this year’s awards among them Professor Sanchia Aranda, Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Council Australia; Professor Kate Drummond, Royal Melbourne Hospital; Professor Catriona McLean, Alfred Health; Lyn Swinburne, Board Chair, The Royal Women’s Hospital; Professor Melanie Wakefield, Cancer Council Victoria; Louise Davidson, Board Director, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Professor Bronwyn King, Radiation Oncologist and Founder Tobacco Free Portfolios.

Congratulations also go to Professor David Ball, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Chris Arnold, Board member and Executive Director of Skin and Cancer Foundation; Professor Bruce Kemp, St Vincent’s Hospital; Professor John McNeill, Head, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, and Professor Andrew Way, Chief Executive, Alfred Health and Chair Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium. All these Victorian colleagues have contributed enormously to our efforts in cancer control. 

As we move into 2019, we are increasingly focused on analysing the depth, breadth and impact of our work to improve outcomes for Victorian cancer patients. I am particularly excited about our forthcoming 'blue sky thinking' sessions where the VCCC leadership will begin the process of planning the next wave of VCCC efforts in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Collectively VCCC members represent a major share of cancer patient numbers, cancer workforce and research resources in this state. This critical mass combined with outstanding distributed leadership and the support of the Victorian Government has seen us make significant progress reaching beyond organisational boundaries to turn this potential into reality.

This is not an easy task.

Doing things differently, creating new approaches and stepping outside traditional or expected processes takes courage, imagination and a fair amount of belief. Seeing our members come together to shake things up and start to shift the dial on some of the big challenges facing cancer control seems like watching a slow-motion seismic shift. The impact will be felt for a long time to come.

One critical component of our progress to date - and a key effort for 2019 - is the integrated involvement of consumers, shaping our thinking and program development.

The VCCC Cancer Consumer Advisory Committee is working closely with our distributed leadership to ensure that consumer inclusion is embedded as ‘business as usual’ across all VCCC alliance activities.  This will be driven by a Consumer Engagement Action Plan to be implemented this year.

We have come a long way but there is further to go. We need to continue to expand our community and we need to increase understanding of our alliance and the opportunities it presents. We want to further strengthen our capacity in critical areas such as cancer health services research and paediatric oncology.

In this context, I’m reminded of the pertinence of our tagline Overcoming Cancer Together. Thank you for being part of this community. Please encourage your peers and colleagues to join us – together we really are more than the sum of our parts.

The final word belongs to Heather Camp who spoke at our special event for World Cancer Day this week.  Heather is a participant in the NOMINATOR rare cancer trial led by Professor Clare Scott, and related her experiences in trying something new.  “I’d encourage anybody to join.  Why wouldn’t you! You never know where it can go.”

Professor Grant McArthur
Executive Director