Breast cancer news from the 2022 federal election.
Last updated: 16 May 2022.
The Coalition has pledged $375m towards a new comprehensive cancer centre in Brisbane if re-elected, providing one facility that would include onsite imaging, chemotherapy, rehabilitation and clinical trials. The centre would provide patients access to specialist nurses and supportive care – focusing on treatment of all cancer types.
The Coalition also recently announced a $77 million commitment to establishing a world-leading research, education and clinical cancer centre in South Australia. The Bragg Comprehensive Cancer Centre (BCCC) will follow the model of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria, which we know has improved outcomes for patients.
BCNA welcomes last week's commitment by the Coalition to inject new funding into rural healthcare, which was also matched by the Australian Labor Party.
The focus on bolstering the rural health workforce will ensure patients living in these areas have improved access to vital services.
For many years, women in our network have told us they are waiting unacceptable times for breast reconstruction surgery. Even prior to COVID-19, we know 27 per cent of women were on waitlists for longer than the recommended timeframe of 12 months.
We know that COVID-19 has also exaggerated these wait times due to pauses during lockdowns, high COVID-19 hospitalisations and significant staff shortages.
In our election manifesto we are calling for a national plan to clear elective surgery backlogs and increased transparency of elective surgery wait times so people can make informed decisions about their care.
We call for:
Breast reconstruction is an important part of moving forward for many women and extended delays can result in significant mental health impacts.
BCNA welcomes the commitments from both the Coalition and Australian Labor Party to reduce the cost of prescription medicines by lowering the co-payment cost for drugs currently on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
However, BCNA advocates for much more to be done to reduce the overall financial burden of breast cancer and to ensure new treatments are accessible to all Australians.
The cost of breast cancer continues to be a significant burden for Australian women and men.
There is often a high cost associated with accessing drugs that are not currently available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
We would like to see new breast cancer treatments approved and listed on the PBS as soon as possible. Australians should have equal access to new and emerging treatment options without being forced to fund them privately or seek access schemes run by pharmaceutical companies that are often capped or still incur a significant cost.
BCNA also advocates for policy initiatives that facilitate greater access to financial support for those with breast cancer and their families.
We call for:
Australia has seen a significant increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation during the past two years.
Here at Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA), many within our network have told us that they are struggling with the strain of the pandemic combined with the existing psychological impacts of a breast cancer diagnosis.
We know that those with cancer need specialised psycho-oncology support to address family mental wellbeing, side effects of treatment, financial stress, mortality, isolation, chronic pain and feelings of being a burden.
Our first recommendation in our Election Manifesto is to improve mental health support for those with cancer.
We call for:
The 2022 federal election will be held on Saturday 21 May.
This election presents an opportunity for BCNA to advocate for improvements to Australia’s healthcare system and health policies in the interests of people diagnosed with breast cancer.
With over 160,000 members across Australia, we are an extensive and influential network that offers unique insight into the lived experience of breast cancer, especially the challenges people are facing.
Australia’s COVID-19 response is also causing and exaggerating unacceptable gaps in access to breast cancer optimal care, and our health systems are experiencing unprecedented strain.
With this in mind, BCNA has established six priority areas, including 17 specific recommendations, that aim to address the key challenges being faced by people with breast cancer.
We are calling on the federal government’s commitment to take action and change policies in the following six priority areas to improve outcomes for people with breast cancer:
Although BCNA supports this commitment to boost primary care, BCNA also encourages the government to improve and invest in patient-navigation to support patients to access these services when and how they need them.
BCNA also welcomes the $238.5 million investment to improve First Nations cancer outcomes through increased early detection, navigation and health promotion as a significant step in addressing the care gap for this population.
While BCNA acknowledges the government’s $556.2 million investment into strengthening Australia’s mental health support and suicide prevention, it calls on government to bring consumers and consumer organisations to the table to implement some tangible short-term solutions to urgently improve mental health support for those with chronic comorbidities such as cancer.
‘Limited access to mental health support is one of the largest barriers to improving cancer outcomes, and our network is in desperate need of investment into these services,' Ms Pilatti says.
*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.