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A shared agenda: Leadership Group established to help close "the cancer gap"

Today, National Close the Gap Day, Cancer Australia announces the recent establishment of its Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control to drive a shared agenda to improve cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Chaired by Professor Jacinta Elston, Associate Dean, Education and Strategy, Generalist Medical Training program, James Cook University, the Leadership Group brings together experts, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds, across the fields of research, health and policy.

“Reflecting its mandate to drive a shared agenda in Indigenous cancer control, the Leadership Group will champion cross-sector collaboration across the seven nationally-agreed evidence-based priorities outlined in Cancer Australia’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework, and leverage opportunities to improve cancer outcomes at system, service and community levels,” said Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO of Cancer Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt welcomed the initiative as a key step to addressing the ever increasing cancer rates in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. 

Minister Wyatt wished to applaud Cancer Australia for the development of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework to lead improvements in cancer outcomes specifically in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Framework identifies seven identified priority areas which, based on the evidence, will have the greatest impact in addressing the disparities and improving cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These are:

  • improving knowledge and attitudes about cancer
  • focusing prevention activities
  • increasing participation in screening and immunisation
  • ensuring early diagnosis
  • delivering optimal and culturally appropriate treatment and care
  • involving, informing and supporting families and carers
  • strengthening the capacity of cancer-related services to meet the needs of Indigenous people.

“The latest national data shows a widening gap in cancer mortality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” said Dr Zorbas. “This is an issue of increasing concern.”

“One of the Leadership Group’s first objectives will be the development of a reporting plan, informed by reliable data and evidence, to measure progress against the national cancer priorities outlined in the Framework,” Dr Zorbas said.

National Close the Gap Day (NCTGD) is a national day of action to pledge support for achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030. 

A list of the Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control Members’ Biographies can be found here.

Cancer Australia was established by the Australian Government in 2006 to benefit all Australians affected by cancer, and their families and carers. Cancer Australia aims to reduce the impact of cancer, address disparities and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer by leading and coordinating national, evidence-based interventions across the continuum of care.

Media enquiries: Lisa Cuthbertson, Manager, Health Promotion and Public Affairs, Cancer Australia | 0438 209 833 |