Call for politicians to boost cancer funding

Ahead of the state election on 19 March, two Flinders University researchers have backed Cancer Council SA’s call for the next state government to invest more in cancer research.

Dr Madelé van Dyk and Professor Professor Billie Bonevski from the College of Medicine and Public Health have both added their support to the campaign calling for the next state government to support three key priorities:

  • Invest $2 million into local cancer research every year for the next three years through the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project.
  • Increase the Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (PATS) rebate for regional and remote South Australians to $100 for an individual and $115 for a couple per night.
  • Contribute $400,000 over four years to fund the Tackling Tobacco Pilot Program in South Australia, to help reduce the smoking rate in at-risk communities.

Since 2011, SA Health and Cancer Council SA, along with the three SA universities and SAHMRI, have come together to invest more than $35 million dollars in cancer research through the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project.

Dr Madelé van Dyk, a recipient of Beat Cancer Project funding, is an Early Career Research Fellow in the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute and currently leads an Australian-first project aimed at perfecting personalised treatments for cancer patients.

Dr Madelé van Dyk

Her research, focused on therapeutic drug monitoring, aims to understand why people react differently to different cancer medicines. She says the Beat Cancer funding has enabled her to lead a national project that is having a global impact.

“We’re now working with other states and territories to help them set up their own therapeutic drug monitoring program, with South Australia being used as a national example of how the program can work successfully,” says Dr van Dyk.

“That’s also led to international collaborations with the Netherlands and Germany with really exciting potential, and that’s only possible because of the support we’ve received from Cancer Council SA.”

Professor Billie Bonevski, Public Health Discipline Group Lead, is a health behaviour scientist and has spent many years researching how to help people reduce or quit smoking, especially within at-risk communities.

She is supporting Cancer Council’s call for ongoing funding for the Tackling Tobacco Pilot Program, which gives health professionals the tools to help their clients quit smoking for good, and ensures that smoking support is a regular part of the care offered by service providers.

“Smoking is linked to more than 15 types of cancer. The highest smoking rates are amongst the most disadvantaged communities – people with a mental illness, who are homeless or unemployed, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” says Professor Bonevski.

“The Tackling Tobacco Program targets these communities to help them lead a smoke free life.”

The problem is significant, with 31 new cases of cancer diagnosed in South Australia every day, and with one in two South Australians diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.

“Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and disease in South Australia, with more than 11,400 people losing their life every year,” says Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Kerry Rowlands.

“It’s a sobering statistic, but one that highlights why it’s vital for the next State Government to invest in programs and services that reduce the burden of cancer for all South Australians today, and for generations to come.”

Read more about the campaign here:

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College of Medicine and Public Health