Closing the gap for all Victorians
Victoria has some of the best cancer outcomes in the world and is recognised as having a leading cancer healthcare system. However, these positives are not experienced equally by all Victorians, and that gap is widening.
Threaded throughout our Strategic Program Plan 2021-24 is a major focus on building capability across the VCCC Alliance and beyond to improve equity in cancer outcomes. We need to better understand why our current systems of cancer care do not provide adequate treatment and care for some members of our community. With this knowledge we can embed effective responses for all people, regardless of geography, social, cultural, physical or economic circumstances.
Indigenous leadership at the forefront
A problem as complex and multi-faceted as inequity in cancer care and outcomes requires an experienced, strategic leader to guide our approach. In November 2021, we were delighted to welcome our first Research and Education Lead in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Dr Kalinda Griffiths, a Yawuru woman, to drive this important work.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience inequities at every point of the cancer continuum, and these inequities are cumulative in effect. System change that challenges the status quo at all levels is required to drive measurable gains, and Dr Griffiths’ outstanding knowledge and leadership ensures our trajectory towards equity for Indigenous populations has impact, momentum and sustainability.
“I am very excited to be working with the VCCC Alliance and other partners to develop this critical work. Cancer continues to be one of the greatest burdens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and there is much work to be done to ensure that there is equitable and culturally safe systems and services that reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander needs.” – Dr Kalinda Griffiths, R&E Lead Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.
Embedding an equity-first mindset
In the past year we have laid the foundations of collaboration, allyship and reciprocity on which the health equity program is based:
- A newly formed Equity Advisory Group (EAG) has been established to provide strategic direction to our Health Equity Program on the development and implementation of strategies to address inequities in cancer outcomes across Victoria,
- We have a specific goal to contribute to improving cancer outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as part of our Strategic Program Plan, and partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) to support the implementation of their cancer journey strategy, and
- We have utilised a strengths-based approach to map and collate novel equity initiatives in cancer control across the alliance and beyond.