Executive Director's Report
Another remarkable year
2022 – 23 was a remarkable year for the VCCC Alliance. As an entity with no real precedent in Australia, one of our challenges has been to prove our value and worth where it counts: improved outcomes for people affected by cancer.
Improving outcomes is not just about big new biological discoveries and major financial investments. The impact of our programs show that by collaborating, connecting, empowering and educating we can make improvements to the system, improve access, unlock knowledge and insights, and use the power of the collective to shift the dial - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
We recently completed an interim Benefits Management Plan Report – it’s a tool we use to demonstrate how much progress has been made towards a range of measures, such as the number of patients accessing molecular and/or immunological tests or the number of patients in rural and regional areas enrolled on clinical trials. Although we are only part-way through the reporting period, against 35 measures, 34 percent have already been exceeded, 10 percent met and 35 percent are on track. The remaining 21 percent are harder nuts to crack but we are optimistic that by the time the final report is due in October 2024, we will have met 90 percent of the measures.
This success is all the more special and remarkable because it’s the result of hundreds of people’s contributions. From our collaborative leadership group across all the alliance members, to the members of steering groups and advisory committees as well as the board the alliance draws on a huge pool of collective wisdom and diverse perspectives to craft and implement initiatives that tackle problems and opportunities that a single organisation could not take on alone.
If this makes it sound easy, it’s not: we have experienced many bumps in the road. Now though, 14 years since the first partners signed the joint venture agreement, we have a patient-centred collaborative model that has paved the way for similar alliances in other Australian states, and helped to inspire Cancer Australia’s new National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
The prospect of multiple alliances, working together across the country is both gratifying and exciting, and presents real potential for better outcomes for more Australians affected by cancer.
Over the past year we launched a new Leadership Academy to upskill and equip a new generation of leaders to meet the challenges that lie ahead; the Data Connect project unlocked huge research potential; the Centre for Cancer Education brought high quality cancer education to workforce wherever they are, and seven regional cancer centres signed on as Regional Partners. As well we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to enable collaborative work on the cancer journey strategy, Victorian Aboriginal Research Accord, and lung cancer screening research. And much more.
None of this would have been possible without the input and involvement of consumers who are involved in every project, so I want to make special mention of their contributions.
Which leads me to thank Ms Sophy Athan, Chair of the VCCC Alliance Cancer Consumer Advisory Committee from 2015 – 2023. Sophy’s contribution is hard to overstate, and we are indebted to her for her wisdom, commitment and tenacity, which have left an indelible mark on the alliance.
Thanks also to all the dedicated and talented VCCC Alliance staff team; to the many contributors and participants in our programs and to the Board for their steadfast support, encouragement and guidance.
Special mention must be given to Emeritus Professor Linda Kristjanson AO, outgoing Chair of the Board, who guided our alliance through a period of rapid and dynamic growth with strength, vision, energy, and compassion - always with an eye to the patients we are here to serve.
I look forward to a new era of growth under our new Chair, Professor Sanchia Aranda AM as well as a new governance structure to position us for future opportunities.
Professor Grant McArthur AO
Prof Grant McArthur AO with The Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP, Dr Fanny Franchini and Dr Jon Emery at the Data Connect launch.