VACCHO Unveils the Victorian Aboriginal Cancer Journey Strategy 

May 26, 2023

Earlier this week VACCHO was proud to be joined by the Minister for Health, Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, to launch the Victorian Aboriginal Cancer Journey Strategy 2023-2028.

At an event that brought together the collective leadership the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector, the Victorian Government, and Victoria’s leading cancer agencies, Minister Thomas launched the strategy with a powerful address about the need to Close the Gap in cancer outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians.

The new strategy provides the roadmap for improving cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Victoria. Currently, Aboriginal Victorians are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer and three times more likely to die from cancer than other Victorians.

With support from the Victorian Department of Health, VACCHO undertook wide ranging research and Community engagement in the development of a pathway to Closing the Gap. The resulting strategy calls for greater investment in Aboriginal self-determination and Community Control, a bigger and stronger Aboriginal workforce across the whole of the health system, the embedding of Aboriginal cultural connection throughout all stages of the cancer journey, and cultural safety in all settings of care.

VACCHO is also calling for the establishment of a new Cancer Coordination workforce. Aboriginal Cancer Coordinators will walk alongside each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, and their family, on their cancer journeys. Their role will be to coordinate equitable access to services, treatment options, and entitlements, and to ensure every person is supported to fully understand each step of their journey and be empowered to exercise self-determination.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO, a cancer survivor, is determined that the strategy drive an improvement in cancer outcomes for Victorian Aboriginal communities.

“One of our biggest challenges has been Closing the Gap in cancer outcomes. This strategy presents the pathway for us to change that for good.”

“For Aboriginal people and their families to engage with prevention, cancer screening and early detection, we need approaches that are developed by our Communities, for our Communities.”

“Past attempts to address this have not enabled Aboriginal self-determination. For improved access, cultural safety, and adequate support, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be in the driver’s seat.”

VACCHO would like to pay tribute to the Community for sharing their Cancer Journey experiences and personal stories, which have been instrumental in helping guide and inform the development of the strategy.

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VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.