Cancer Council Australia

Annual Review 2017-2018

Support and information highlights

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Cancer Council offices around the country provide a wide range of support services, for anyone and everyone affected by cancer. Our services include information and emotional support through programs such as phone counselling through to practical help with things like travel and accommodation for people having treatment. We also offer information and support services in hospitals and other locations.  

This section highlights some of our supportive care programs and the impact we’ve made over the past year.

13 11 20

When you or someone you love is affected by cancer it’s normal to feel upset, worried and overwhelmed. This can make it hard to understand and remember the information you are given by your doctors and health professionals.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 is our free, confidential information and support service, and is for anyone affected by or needing information about cancer. Experienced cancer nurses and specially trained staff can answer questions about any cancer type and any cancer-related issues, provide advice about practical concerns like transport or getting financial help, or just listen and offer tips for coping with cancer. 

 “Cancer Council meant I had someone to talk to when I didn’t know who to talk to. Whether it was learning about my treatment or getting emotional support, they were there.”
– Drew, Qld

In 2016 our 13 11 20 staff helped more than 46,000 callers, including people just diagnosed with cancer, people making treatment decisions or going through treatment, people living with cancer, their carers and loved ones, people wanting to know more about cancer prevention or symptoms, and healthcare professionals. 


Having to travel far from home to get the treatment you need is yet another stress on people with cancer, as well as their family members and carers. To support people with cancer and their carers travelling for treatment, Cancer Council across several states and territories offer free or subsidised accommodation.

Cancer Council Lodges are independent living facilities that provide a home away from home for those who need to travel to access cancer treatment. Our lodges are friendly and comfortable places for people with cancer and their carers to stay, and provide or coordinate transport to treatment centres and access to support services.

In 2016 state and territory Cancer Councils provided 121,200 nights of subsidised accommodation.

Help with hair loss

Hair loss can be a side effect of cancer treatment. People experiencing hair loss can have a range of different reactions, from feeling self-conscious to not wanting to engage in social activities. Some people like to wear a wig to boost their self-confidence, while others find hats, scarves and turbans to be more comfortable and attractive.

Cancer Council’s Wig and Turban Service (available in several states and territories) helps people who have experienced hair loss as a result of their cancer treatment by loaning wigs and providing turbans at no cost.

In 2016 our Wig and Turban Service provided 2,065 wigs to people with cancer to help boost their self-confidence or help them cope with hair loss.

Support groups

When someone hears the words “you have cancer”, it’s common for them to feel very alone, as if no one else could possibly understand. Cancer Council support groups are there to help those affected by cancer (including family members and carers) get through these emotions, get the information they need, get practical advice from people who are going through similar experiences, and share their fears and concerns with other people who understand.

Cancer Council facilitates support groups for people with all types of cancer and people who are similar because of their age or other circumstances (such as groups for parents of children with cancer). We can also refer people affected by cancer to support groups offered by other organisations.

Research by Cancer Council NSW has shown that people who take part in support groups have lower levels of anxiety and depression than those who don’t. Joining a support group can help people feel less alone and more in control. Participants in our support groups say they can relax, be themselves and even have a laugh.

In 2016 there were 580 Cancer Council community support groups across Australia, enabling thousands of people affected by cancer to share experiences and both receive and give support.

Cancer Council also provides online support through our Online Community, a forum for people affected by cancer, where they can ask questions, read forums and blogs, and participate in online support groups.


Pro bono advice

For most people diagnosed with cancer, it’s not just about tests and treatments – dealing with cancer can impact work or study, finances and future plans. People with cancer often have to deal with legal or financial issues, and the professional services they need are often not affordable.

Cancer Council’s pro bono program offers people impacted by cancer help with legal issues, financial planning, small business accounting or workplace (HR) advice. Our program has helped people with cancer with issues such as writing a will, early access to superannuation, mortgage hardship variations, credit/debt issues, insurance claims and disputes, budgeting, and transitioning to retirement.

In 2016, 3,100 people affected by cancer were referred to our network of pro bono professionals, who assisted them with about 3,700 matters. This vital program depends on a group of passionate professionals across Australia who volunteer their time to help those who cannot afford to pay for advice. Our gratitude goes to every professional involved – they are making a huge impact in the lives of the many Australians affected by cancer.


Being able to easily access information about cancer that is trustworthy, up to date and easy to understand is important not only for people with cancer, but also their family members, carers and friends. People concerned about cancer or who want to know how to reduce their risk also need reliable, clear information.

Cancer Council Australia and its state and territory members deliver information about all cancers and all cancer issues via our websites. In 2016, there were nearly 4 million visits (3,975,000) to Cancer Council websites., managed by Cancer Council Australia, is one of the leading sources of cancer information for Australians. We continually update and extend the content we provide about cancer, as well as our work in cancer prevention and control. During 2016-17 we added or updated information about:

  • cancer types: lymphoma, breast cancer in men, workplace cancers, and mouth, oesophageal, anal, throat, vulvar and vaginal cancers
  • treatment and care options, including palliative care, surgery, clinical trials, oncology and mastectomy
  • cancer prevention and early detection, including mammograms, HPV and polyps
  • issues for people living with cancer, including cancer and work, and exercise for people with cancer.


If you or someone you love has cancer, it is essential and empowering to get easy-to-understand, trustworthy (evidence-based) information about the cancer type and tests and treatment options, as well as information on issues such as managing side effects and coping emotionally. Having the right information at the right time helps you make decisions and feel in control, reducing stress and anxiety.

Cancer Council produces a wide range of free publications and resources that are based on the latest evidence and are easy to read or use. They are produced for people affected by cancer – including their loved ones – by teams made up of health professionals and people who have experienced cancer, so all perspectives and issues are included. We also produce resources for health professionals, schools and workplaces to support them in informing people about cancer prevention and early detection.

In 2016, Cancer Councils distributed more than 862,800 free cancer information booklets and resources across Australia.

Cancer Council Australia also coordinates the national production of publications and e-books. In 2016-17 we added several new publications to our suite of ‘Understanding cancer’ booklets and updated publications and other resources including:

  • ‘Understanding cancer’ booklets about bowel cancer, breast cancer, cancer in the liver, cancer of the uterus, head and neck cancers, kidney cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, mesothelioma, testicular cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancers
  • fact sheets about primary bone cancer, lymphoedema and immunotherapy
  • booklets for people with cancer and their families and friends about chemotherapy, ‘Living with advanced cancer’, ‘Cancer, work & you’, ‘Understanding palliative care’, ‘Facing end of life’ and ‘Understanding grief’
  • ‘Exercises after breast surgery’ poster (reprint) and booklet.

Support services vary across state and territories. Call 13 11 20 for service information in your state or territory.

This page was last updated on: Friday, January 19, 2018