The Australian government has launched a digital cancer hub to support young cancer patients and their families.
The Cancer Hub was developed in partnership with three of the leading children’s cancer support groups in Australia, namely Canteen, Camp Quality, and Redkite.
Based on a media release, the digital hub will be providing online counselling services to children under 12 with cancer and their parents. It builds on Canteen Connect, a mobile app-based online community for people aged 12-25 dealing with their own or a family member’s cancer.
The federal government has provided A$3.3 million ($2.2 million) to Canteen to deliver the Cancer Hub until the end of 2023. This includes A$1.8 million ($1.2 million) in funding to continue its Canteen Connect service and A$1.5 million ($1 million) to offer a cancer navigation service.
Through the hub, the government aims to support more than 70,000 Australians in their cancer journey and assist 20,000 more with mental health support. It will also provide financial assistance and accommodation.
Having digital access to dedicated navigators and counsellors will ensure that young cancer patients and their families can receive the right support “as close to home as possible – and in the shortest timeframe,” the government said in a statement. The Cancer Hub will also have on-ground staff in every major capital city and in some regional centres.
WHY IT MATTERS
Data from the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry has shown that on average, about 750 Australian children below the age of 14 are diagnosed with cancer each year. The leading cancer types among these children are leukaemia and tumour of the central nervous system, mainly the brain.
It is also estimated that each year, children’s cancer claims over 100 lives in Australia with brain tumours being the major cause.
Australia has the fifth highest cases of childhood cancer among the G20 countries but it has the lowest mortality rate among them, according to data from Globocan.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The Australian government has a long-standing relationship with Canteen, which received its first government funding in 2008.
“The Albanese Government will continue to invest significantly in childhood and adolescent cancer across the cancer care continuum,” said newly appointed Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler.
In March this year, Canteen, together with seven other charitable groups, opened a physical cancer hub in New South Wales. The Hunter Cancer Hub also supports families and individuals impacted by cancer with access to information and services.
In other recent cancer-focused funding, the federal government infused A$2 million ($1.3 million) more to Ovarian Cancer Australia to help the non-profit provide psychosocial telehealth support services to ovarian cancer patients through 2024.