Cancer and Local Government – a potent combination

Cancer places a significant burden on every Local Government Area in Australia, with 1 in 2 Australians diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. It is estimated that 115,000 people were diagnosed with cancer last year and about 43,000 will die as a result. Cancer costs about $3.8 billion in direct health system costs each year. The social fabric of a community, including the local economy, is negatively impacted by cancer, and, as a result, so are local councils. But the good news is that councils can and are helping to reduce the impacts of cancer and other life threatening diseases through improved policy, planning and community engagement.

Cancer Council NSW has developed a systematic framework for working with Local Government in NSW. It includes formal partnerships, one to one relationship management, an awards and recognition program, and incentive grants funding. The focus is on the intersection between council functions, community aspirations and cancer control. Councils are supported to adopt policies and practices that lead to workplaces and communities that are well-nourished, active, sun smart and smoke-free, and that have access to vital health services. Councils can integrate cancer prevention and cancer support into broader community strategic planning objectives related to health protection and health promotion. Examples include improving transport links, access to recreation, adopting healthy policies, running healthy community programs, providing safer playgrounds and public spaces, and through workplace health and wellbeing programs.

Councils can have a significant impact on cancer in their community. They can shape the environments and infrastructure to reduce exposure to cancer risk and reduce the impact of a cancer diagnosis. About 30 per cent of cancers can be prevented through living healthier lifestyles – and this can only be achieved with all levels of government creating healthier living environments for everyone.

Mr Grant Malpas – Cancer Council of NSW

Healthy Cities  Conference: Noosa July 2011


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