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06 Jan 2015

Federal Election 2013 Submission

In the lead up to the 2013 Federal Election, BCNA developed and presented to the Health and Shadow Health Ministers a submission on behalf of our members on what we believe are priority areas for breast cancer treatment and support.

Our election submission has four major themes:

  1. a range of initiatives to reduce out-of-pocket costs for Australians diagnosed and treated for breast cancer
  2. funding to train and place 50 advanced cancer nurses in communities around Australia, including in all regional cancer centres
  3. continued funding for breast cancer research
  4. organisational funding to help BCNA meet its operational costs.

A priority is to ensure government funding for new breast cancer tests and treatments, so that all women have access to them – not just those women who can afford them. BCNA has this year called for Medicare rebates for breast MRIs and for bone mineral density tests for women treated with an aromatase inhibitor, so that women who have these tests as part of their breast cancer treatment can claim a Medicare rebate.

We have also called on government to ensure that new breast cancer drugs recommended for listing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are quickly approved so that they are subsidised and available to all women who can benefit from them.

People living with advanced cancer – including secondary breast cancer – need tailored support, often over a long period of time. We have called for a future Australian government to fund 50 specialist advanced cancer care nurses to support people with advanced cancer. We have proposed that 25 advanced cancer care nurses be placed in Regional Cancer Centres around Australia to provide care to all patients living with advanced cancer, including women with secondary breast cancer. The remaining 25 positions could be allocated as specialist secondary breast cancer nurses in major metropolitan hospitals.

BCNA acknowledges the work of previous governments in supporting Australians affected by breast cancer. Over the last 15 years governments have made real improvements to treatment and care, including listing some high-cost drugs such as Herceptin and Tykerb on the PBS, establishing the External Breast Prostheses Reimbursement program, and providing BCNA with funding (through Cancer Australia) to support our rural and regional programs.

Responses from the ALP and the Coalition

The ALP and the Coalition each provided BCNA with an article on their policies for breast cancer. These articles have been published in Issue 64 of The Beacon magazine.

Since going to print, we have received further commitments from the ALP. These include:

  • $15.1 million to establish a network of 34 Cancer Care Nurse Coordinators to support people diagnosed with cancer in rural and regional areas, including five Cancer Care Nurse Coodinators to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • $346 million to modernise hospital and medical treatment facilities, boost the health workforce and provide sophisticated medical diagnostic and treatment technologies where needed (this package has a strong cancer focus, but is not cancer-specific)
  • a commitment to continue to increase funding to the National Health and Medical Research Council to rise to $815 million in 2016-17.

More information