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Leukaemia Foundation’s response to Federal Budget

Wednesday, May 10 2023

The Leukaemia Foundation has acknowledged key initiatives in the Federal Budget that will help Australians living with blood cancer, including funding for cancer care, improving access to primary care, support for First Nations people and cost of living initiatives.

The Leukaemia Foundation looks forward to working with government to build upon last night’s Federal Budget measures as well as working with the upcoming Australian Cancer Plan to deliver better outcomes for people living with blood cancer. This includes reducing variation in treatment and care by finalising and implementing national standards and ensuring faster access for patients to life-saving therapies through the Health Technology Assessment Review.

The following Federal Budget initiatives relevant to the 135,000 Australians currently living with blood cancer include:

Cancer Care initiatives
The Budget provides additional funding for key cancer initiatives across Australia.

  • Additional funding to establish Comprehensive Cancer Centres in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Funded in conjunction with the Federal Government and relevant State Governments.
  • Additional funding to establish a cancer genomics laboratory in South Australia to improve treatment options for Australians living with cancer.
  • Funding to increase the number of clinical trials to deliver health benefits, provide jobs and improve innovation ($4.7 million from 2022-23 to 2024-25

Improved access to primary care
Measures to make access to primary care easier for those with chronic and complex health conditions. With many Australians living with a chronic blood cancer, this budget announcement will break down barriers to ensure blood cancer patients can access the ongoing care they need to manage their blood cancer. The 2023 budget introduces measures to address the regional, rural and remote divide in accessing supportive care.

  • Australians in regional, rural and remote communities will have better access to GPs, particularly benefiting those with chronic and complex health conditions.
  • GPs who bulk bill patients in metropolitan areas will receive an additional incentive of $13.80 per consultation.
  • GPs who bulk bill patients in remote areas will receive an additional incentive of $26.50 per consultation.
  • Regional Cancer Treatment Centres for Radiation Therapy programs will receive funding to support their implementation.

First Nations access to health services
First Nations people, those of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and regional and remote patients face additional challenges when diagnosed with a blood cancer. This budget includes initiatives that will improve cancer outcomes for First Nations patients through:

  • Funding to build the capacity of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services by creating 260 new positions to deliver cancer treatment and support for First Nations patients to navigate cancer care following diagnosis, and access treatment and care on Country.

Cost of living initiatives
People living with a blood cancer can face sustained financial burden as a result of their diagnosis. This Budget introduces key policies that will seek to lift some financial pressures by making medicines cheaper and increasing JobSeeker payments for those who receive the payment.

  • People with a blood cancer who receive the JobSeeker payment will receive an additional $40 per fortnight.
  • People with a blood cancer can access cheaper medicines and buy two months’ worth of medicines on a single prescription.

Leukaemia Foundation CEO Chris Tanti said the organisation welcomed commitments in improving access to affordable treatment and care, regardless of where a patient lives.

“The Leukaemia Foundation notes there does not appear to be funding explicitly set aside for the completion of national standards for blood cancers. The Leukaemia Foundation, working with the Blood Cancer Taskforce, has been leading the development of these, which have been developed for most other cancers and major diseases. We will work with Government regarding what will happen to this project.

“With more Australian impacted by blood cancer there is more to be done and the Leukaemia Foundation is well placed to work with government on the implementation of this work, as well as partnering on the Australian Cancer Plan.”