ACT Labor’s $20 million boost to cancer services

On average, Canberrans are the best educated, best paid and healthiest people in Australia.

Despite generally enjoying good health, cancer remains a leading cause of death in the ACT. Although survival rates are continually improving, the incidence of cancer continues to rise, and this trend is expected to continue with an ageing and growing population.

Every year we are investing record levels of funding in our community, building a stronger local health system, investing in better schools and teachers, maintaining a strong local economy and creating more local jobs than ever before.

ACT Labor is building, through its investments in facilities and people, a health system which not only meets growing demand, but a system with momentum, creating highly-skilled jobs, delivering new services and harnessing world-leading research to provide the next jobs, the next models of care, the next new therapies that will help us live longer, healthier lives.

ACT Labor is committed to helping our health, education and research sectors work together to tackle the health challenges we face head on.

We are doing just that with our cancer services.  We have invested in additional services  and facilities each year to meet growing demand, and we are innovating and planning for the future – for new treatments and new models to care – through the construction of an integrated cancer centre.

The $44.6 million Canberra Region Cancer Centre – our first integrated cancer centre, jointly funded with the Federal Labor Government – will draw together and integrate our comprehensive range of cancer services to provide a better service for patients and smoother patient journey for people diagnosed with cancer.

These services will be provided in contemporary facilities with strong connections to pre-eminent research facilities.  But there is more to do.


If re-elected ACT Labor will invest almost $20 million to provide more cancer outpatient services, employ more doctors and nurses, expand lymphoedema services and support ANU cancer research.

Policy costings

ACT Labor will invest $17.078 million in recurrent funding over four years to increase our cancer outpatient services, $1.305 million to expand lymphoedema services, and $1.5 million to establish a high profile Centenary Chair in Cancer research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR).

ACT Labor’s plan to boost cancer services







Cancer outpatients






Expansion to Lymphoedema services






Cancer Chair












What will ACT Labor’s plan deliver?

ACT Labor will provide an additional $17 million for outpatient services at our new Canberra Region Cancer Centre which will provide for at least 30 new nurses and four new specialist cancer doctors.

As more care is being provided today in settings outside the traditional hospital-ward environment, it is particularly important that we fund additional outpatient services.

We will expand the lymphoedema service, adding two new physiotherapists and a doctor at a cost of $1.3 million over four years.  The existing service at Calvary Hospital provides monthly clinics, physiotherapy, education in the care of affected limbs and compression garments, nutritional advice and counselling to help patients live with lymphoedema and develop coping strategies.

ACT Labor’s investment will increase the capacity of the service and enable more patients to access the service.

We will also partner with the Australian National University to provide $1.5 million to support the establishment of a high profile Centenary Chair in Cancer Research at JCSMR.  The Chair will be closely linked with the Canberra Region Cancer Centre and enhance collaboration between clinicians and researchers, building research capacity in the health system and giving researchers access to clinical expertise and settings.

Why is this additional investment by ACT Labor so important?

Advances in technology have improved treatments and cancer survival rates and contributed to earlier diagnosis – increasing demand for services.

Cancer remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. The Chief Health Officer’s 2012 Report found cancer was the leading disease category, accounting for 19% of disease and injury in Canberrans.

It also found cancer was the second highest underlying cause of death in 2009. Between 1985 and 2008 there was a significant increase in the incidence of cancer for breast, prostate melanoma of the skin, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and lung cancers.

About 1300 Canberrans are diagnosed with cancer each year.  The risk of developing cancer by the age of 85 is one in two and as our population ages and grows, cancer will continue to be the most prevalent disease in our community.

The Capital Region Cancer Service already provides a comprehensive range of screening, assessment, diagnostic, treatment and palliative care services to people living in Canberra and surrounding areas of NSW.  This additional investment will further increase the capacity of these services and help us meet growing demand for treatment and care.

Advances in practices, medicines and equipment now mean that many services that used to require a hospital stay can be managed in an outpatient setting.  Outpatient care, where appropriate, is much better for longer term outcomes as the care is provided in a less invasive manner, reducing long term recuperation requirements and reducing the possibility of infection.  This is particularly the case for cancer treatment, which is often provided in an outpatient setting.

The new Canberra Region Cancer Centre will provide additional opportunities to manage patients in an outpatient setting, rather than having to admit patients to a ward.


How does this build on ACT Labor’s investments in cancer services?

Each year, ACT Labor has allocated additional funding to deal with the growth in demand for cancer services.  This investment has ensured 100% of radiation therapy patients are seen on time.

This year we also added a fourth linear accelerator to the Capital Region Cancer Services.  A linear accelerator is a device used to deliver high energy x-rays direct to the region of the patient’s tumour to destroy the cancer cells.  ACT Labor increased capacity from two machines in 2006 to four in 2012.

As part of our Health Infrastructure Program we have also delivered a PET/CT scan – the first for the ACT – providing Canberrans with a local service without the need to be referred to Sydney or Melbourne for this medical imaging service.

In 2010, we provided funding to upgrade breast screening equipment and now provide digital mammography services.  This new system provides lower dose screening and higher quality images that can be transferred between clinicians and medical practitioners and viewed electronically.

The new $44.6 million Canberra Region Cancer Centre, currently under construction at the Canberra Hospital, will improve cancer treatment by integrating services including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, haematology, immunology, and research and teaching programs within a single five-storey building on the Canberra Hospital campus.  This state-of-the-art facility is being delivered by the ACT Labor Government with funding support from the Federal Labor Government.

This partnership with the Federal Labor Government has also seen the recent opening of a new ‘home away from home’ for regional cancer patients and their carers to use while having treatment at Canberra Hospital.  The refurbished house in Duffy can accommodate up to 12 adults (six patients and their carers) and will complement the new Canberra Region Cancer Centre, to be opened in 2013

ACT Labor understands the importance of providing comprehensive, high quality cancer services for patients in Canberra and surrounding NSW.

ACT Labor continues to invest and plan for the future and the expected increases in demand in cancer services.  We will continue to provide the latest and most innovative health care for cancer patients, in state-of-the art facilities.