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Improving patient experiences and outcomes by connecting cancer care 
and driving best practice.
We welcome you to our end of year edition of the Grampians Integrated Cancer Service (GICS) newsletter. We have been very busy over recent months and are excited to share our news with you and wrap up what has been a bumper year.

In this edition, we'll update you on staffing changes in our team, we're pleased to share the success of our Annual Forum held in October and we're excited to launch our 2022-23 Annual Report. We are reminding staff of grant funding available to our regions cancer care workers to undertake professional development opportunities and provide an overview of the many recent held events and activities, and report back on our findings and learnings.

As always, we've included updates on projects occurring within the Grampians region, and statewide, along with new cancer resources and upcoming cancer events.

Don't forget! If you have any upcoming events, news, resources or information you would like to share in this newsletter, please contact GICS

GICS Updates

GICS Staff - Updates & Achievements
There have been significant changes within our team since our last newsletter and we were sad to farewell Louise Patterson and Robyn Howden, who have both been long standing, and much valued members of our team, have decided to resign from GICS to commence their well earned retirements. 

Louise, after 13 ½ years of leading the administration, recording and quality functions for the Ballarat Oncology Multidisciplinary Meetings, has decided to move into the next chapter of her career – retirement.  

Louise has made a wonderful contribution to cancer services in the Grampians region and we will miss her enormously, particularly her incredible attention to detail and corporate knowledge that will not be easily replaced. 

Robyn has been with the GICS team since 2016, initially in an MDM Administrator role. She has proven to be an invaluable member of the GICS team providing a broad range of support in relation to data audits and data collection.

Robyn has also decided to retire to spend more time in her beautiful garden; we will miss you and your quick wit, lovely smile and demeanor. Enjoy your retirement! 

Excitingly, we are happy to announce the newest member of our team, Hannah Ryan-West, who started with the team in October. Read on to find out more about Hannah.

Staff Leave
Also, we'd like to share the Glenn Reeves is currently on extended leave and will be returning to the team in April 2024. During Glenn's absence please contact us as required at GICS Admin.

GICS 2023 Annual Forum
The GICS 2023 Annual Forum exploring the concept of 'Achieving Well' through the lens of cancer care planning and delivery in the Grampians region was delivered online on Tuesday 17 October 2023.

As part of the 2020-2021 & 2023 Service Improvement Grants Program, GICS were pleased to be able to support a number of projects. This forum includes presentations regarding three of those projects, each relating to enhancing health and wellness during cancer treatment, and which speak to the broader priority of the VICS Implementation Plan to improve wellbeing and support for all Victorians affected by cancer.

Additionally, we played a brief video providing an overview of the SMS Pro project its rationale, structure, success so far and next steps.  It is through this project that GICS are exploring the integration of patient reported outcome measures into clinical pathways for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Our forum attracted almost 50 participants on the day representing a diverse audience from within and outside of the cancer sector and our region.  

 A link to the forum is provided below in case you missed it. 
Watch our Annual Forum

GICS Annual Report
The GICS Annual Report is now available, providing an overview of our activities and achievements during 2022-23.
Read our Annual Report

GICS Consumer Advisory Group News
Our end of year wrap up provides the perfect opportunity to share how very lucky GICS are to have a group of 7 passionate consumers as part of our Consumer Advisory Group (CAG). The majority of our CAG are long-standing and committed members who meet monthly to provide invaluable input to GICS projects and activities alongside planning and implementing their own projects. 

A highlight project to be noted, is a suite of podcasts funded by GICS, and developed and produced by our CAG, which are available to recently diagnosed cancer patients and their support network, to guide them through their treatment and supportive care options.
Work is underway to develop further content in this series, focusing on the needs of carers. 
GICS CAG members at the 2023 end of year get together - pictured left to right: 
Mary-Rose McLaren, Alan Crouch, Pauline Prebble, Ian Kemp, 
Penny Johnston & David Deutscher (absent - Joanne Thomas).

The CAG were recently provided an opportunity to reflect on their involvement as a member and here are what some of our members had to say:
The GICS Consumer Advisory Group has, from my perspective, been focused on addressing a gap in the evidence base for effective cancer service improvement; specifically, the participation of consumers across the whole life cycle of cancer service improvement project design, development, implementation and evaluation.

By advocacy for this culture shift in service provider thinking, and by active participation in GICS project grant awarding processes, the group has sought to influence the approaches of service providers to project planning. In doing so, it has also sought to bring the voices of more marginalised and remote-living people with cancer, or people caring for someone with cancer, into service improvement conversations across GICS broad footprint.

Being a part of this visionary and activity-driven group has been truly satisfying!
- Alan Crouch (CAG Chair)
I have been a member of the CAG for some years now (since 2015). Cancer was an awful and disruptive experience, but it also helped me focus on the things 
that mattered in my life.

I was pleased to join the CAG and try to improve the experience of others. I am proud of the work we have done. We have been empowered to address real problems and find real solutions, and so doing, we have positively impacted the experiences of people, many of whom have been at their lowest or most stressed point of their lives.

This work has really made a difference at a personal/patient level, and at a policy and governance level. I feel very privileged to have been involved.
- Mary-Rose McLaren
I’ve had a 10-year connection with the CAG and my enthusiasm for the work of the group has increased over that time. There are some really important reasons for this:

· the role of consumers has matured and improved during this time. When I first started the format was to have meetings which sought the opinions of consumers and this was passed on to others in the health field. What makes our CAG so special is that we are now project based in the way that we seek to improve the outcomes of people with cancer and their families and carers. 
Committee meetings by themselves don’t really cut it.

· increasingly, consumers are becoming a part of the way that some health systems are seeking to improve service delivery, quality assurance and projects. There is a way to go.

When I first started consumer involvement might involve checking questionnaires which were sent out to a cohort of patients and/or carers for their opinions. Sometimes 50 were sent out, 10 were returned and judgements were made on that basis, when 30 would be needed to be statistically significant. Or I would need to read 100 pages of material and maybe asked once or twice for an opinion. And how do I get an item onto the agenda? Or we checked brochures that were developed for patients in waiting rooms. 
Things have improved since those early days.

· it is now generally understood that consumers offer insights into medical practices that are often not considered by health professionals. They have lived experiences as patients and carers that health workers might not know. 
Embedding consumers into the co-design and co-development of improvement measures is necessary and getting more widely adopted.

· consumers in our CAG bring skill sets, life experiences and other qualities that 
improve health outcomes.

· we can initiate projects where we see the need.
- Ian Kemp
A particularly noteworthy mention has to be made to Ian Kemp, who was recently awarded a Grampians Health Life Governor Award

Grampians Health sought nominations earlier in the year, and GICS felt that all of our CAG members are worthy, however in this instance we nominated Ian Kemp. 

Grampians Health consider A Life Governor to be a person who has made a substantial difference to our health service, through community service, philanthropy, volunteering or service to the organisation in some other way.

To be considered for a Life Governor award, it must be shown that a nominee has made an exceptional contribution to Grampians Health and can include contributions made to our predecessor organisations.

Ian was presented this award on Thursday 16 November 2023 and we are pleased that the respect and value we have for Ian as a dedicated CAG member, has been formally recognised. Congratulations and thank you Ian!
Pictured: Ian Kemp (left) being presented with his Life Governor Award by 
Grampians Health Board Chair, Bill Brown.
GICS Colorectal Cancer Networking Event
GICS recently hosted a networking event, held on 8 November, facilitated by our Clinical Director, Dr Fletcher Davies. The event was attended by representatives from the various clinical disciplines along with members of the GICS leadership team.  
Image: Jaymee Goldsmith, Bowel Cancer Coordinator, presenting the findings of the colorectal cancer audit.
The purpose of this event was to discuss the outcomes of a recently conducted audit against the measures in the Optimal Care Pathway (OCP) for patients with colon and rectal cancer, across all stages of the cancer continuum, from diagnosis through to survivorship. The audit sample was taken from patients receiving treatment at the Ballarat base hospital site during the 2022 calendar year.

The audit highlighted some key areas where there is significant variation against the OCP and these variations formed the discussion topics on the evening with the aim of understanding more broadly some of the reasons for variation and in prioritising service improvement activity, that GICS can support, as part of our annual work plan. 

A report is currently being collated to outline the audit findings and we will share this with you in a subsequent edition of our newsletter.
Victorian Cancer Plan Consultation Workshop in Ballarat

Through the Improving Cancer Outcomes Act 2014, the Victorian Government prepares a cancer plan for Victoria every four years that outlines the status and burden of cancer in Victoria.

A core role for GICS as part of the Victorian Integrated Cancer Services network, is to implement the Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-24 goals.

As part of the development of the 2024-2028 Victorian Cancer Plan, people affected by cancer, sector stakeholders and interested Victorians were invited to provide their feedback and identify priorities to improve cancer outcomes for all Victorians.

Consultation workshops occurred throughout Victoria, with a session held in Ballarat on Wednesday 25 October where members of the GICS project team, GICS Consumer Advisory Group and GICS Governance Group, attended to participate at the workshop.

The 2024-2028 cancer plan is currently being developed and will be released by 1 October 2024.   

For more information about the Victorian Cancer Plan, visit the
Department of Health website
GICS Professional Development Grants
Apply Now!
GICS are pleased to welcome and support professional development grant applications to staff who provide cancer care in the Grampians region.

Applications are open for relevant conference or training opportunities that will be completed by 30 June 2024.

To be eligible you must work in cancer care at any of the following organisations:

  • Ballan Health & Care Services
  • Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre (BAROC)
  • Beaufort & Skipton Health Service
  • Central Highlands Rural Health
  • East Grampians Health Service
  • Grampians Health
  • Maryborough District Health Service
  • Rural Northwest Health
  • St John of God Hospital (Ballarat)
  • West Wimmera Health Service.

Please visit our website for further information and if you would like to register your interest please email GICS Admin. 
GICS are now LinkedIn
Follow Us
We're asking for your help to to increase our social media reach with GICS stakeholders, health professionals and cancer organisations. 

If you are one of our health service partners, a stakeholder or member of one of our committees, who use LinkedIn, we encourage you to follow our GICS page and we'd appreciate if you could react, comment on, and/or share any posts whilst @-tag any person or organisation who might be interested in our content. You can also send posts as direct messages to your contacts / connections.
GICS Team Learning
Professional Development Opportunities
Members of the GICS team attended the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare, and throughout two insightful days at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, in the beautiful city of Melbourne, the conversations were stimulating and insightful. 

The International Forum successfully gathered almost 1,300 healthcare improvers from 26 countries, facilitating an enriching exchange of ideas and experiences.

‘We do better, together’ echoed throughout the conference centre and on the online platform, becoming more than just a quote - it became the heartbeat of our collective efforts.

Pictured from left to right: Vicki Hillis, Kerry Davidson, Kirsten Ives & Hannah Ryan-West.
Here are the summaries of some of the pivotal discussions that took place during the conference. For those interested in attending this event next year, it will be held in Brisbane on 6 - 8 November 2024.
Another member of the team, Donna Bridge, attended the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) Conference, also held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Melbourne in November, where she experienced invaluable opportunities to network in person, and expand upon her knowledge in the cancer space.

Those interested in attending the COSA Conference in 2024, it will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, 13 - 15 November.

A major announcement at this years COSA Conference, was the formal launch of the Australian Cancer Plan. Developed by Cancer Australia, the ten-year Australian Cancer Plan (the Plan) is a future-focused plan designed to improve cancer outcomes, particularly for those groups whose health outcomes are poorer. The ground-breaking national strategy sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. 
Contacting the GICS Team
Email Address Update
As part of the Grampians Health (GH) amalgamation we have migrated to a new email address. This has occurred so that all staff within the GH footprint have the same email address. Previously, when emailing a member of the GICS team you would have used, we have now transitioned to

If you would like to contact a member of our team please either visit the Contact Us page on our website or email GICS Admin, who will be able to assist you further. 
Staff Profile
Welcome Hannah!

We're excited to share that Hannah started with GICS on 23 October as a Service Improvement Facilitator and brings a wealth of clinical expertise and boundless positive energy to the team. 

We asked Hannah a range of questions to get to know her better, see her responses below:

Career Achievements
  • 20(-ish) years of working in the critical care sector in both ED & ICU in various cities around Australia as well as internationally.
  • Delivery of Burns related education across the Western region
  • Recipient of the Doreen Bauer Travel Scholarship
  • Currently back at University undertaking Clinical Redesign course.
Interesting Fact
Newly developed (6ish month) obsession with trail running & mental toughness development in pushing the boundaries we self- impose on ourselves…any excuse to talk about this she will gladly partake in!

Family / Hobbies
Originally from central NSW - ended up in Ballarat post living in Melbourne after returning from overseas…met a boy from Ballarat…they did the western highway commute for 3 years & then got married! 

Hannah has 2 kiddos (7 &10), 4 chickens, a dog & a cat...they did have some fish in the pond that lasted one day before the birds got them…and would LOVE to get an alpaca.

Hannah loves animals of all kinds, the bush, mountains & trail running are her happy places and these things keep her balanced.

Contact Hannah
Hannah works part time hours, Monday to Friday, and can be contacted via email at 

Region Updates

Aboriginal Design Scrubs
Aboriginal design medical scrubs are helping First Nations patients at the Wimmera Cancer Centre feel at ease as much as possible, in an initiative supported by GICS to provide culturally appropriate, optimal cancer care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

“At first we weren’t sure if it was appropriate to wear them,” said Carmel O’Kane, Wimmera Cancer Centre Manager at Grampians Health Horsham (pictured below on the left with oncology nurse, Sheena Kirby), “but at a recent meeting at Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative we found out that Aboriginal patients would be happy to see us in them.”
This initiative has raised broad interest, so if you’d like to know more, please email GICS Cancer Service Improvement Facilitator, Donna Bridge 
Cancer Screening hits the Spot at Warracknabeal Show
As part of the GICS funded Cancer Awareness, Support & Early Detection Project, the team at Rural Northwest Health held free Skin Checks for the community at the Warracknabeal Show on 12 October. The primary objectives of the event were to promote skin health awareness, to encourage screening and early detection of most common and prevalent skin cancers in the region, offer free skin checks, and educate the community on the importance of early detection of skin issues.

Dr. Franklin, a highly qualified and well reputed GP in the town, contributed his time and expertise to provide the skin checks to the community for  2.5 hours.  Afterwards, the skin checks were continued by Dr Zernain Athar. A total of 25 skin checks were conducted during the event.
25 community members attended the event and were able to have their skin checks completed. Out of a total of 25, 13 participants were detected with skin issues and needed referral and specialist advice. They have been referred to their regular General Physicians for further evaluation and work up. This concerning number highlights the importance of screening and early detection for skin cancers. 

Statewide Updates

Cancer in Victoria 2022

Each year, Cancer Council Victoria produce a detailed statistical report on the trends in cancer presentation, incidence, survival and mortality.

Launched last week, the CCV have published an annual report produced by the Victorian Cancer Registry and provides a snapshot of cancer activity in 2022.

2022 in numbers
  • In 2022, 35,656 Victorians were diagnosed with cancer.
  • There were over 6,000 fewer cancer diagnoses than expected between 2020 - 2022.
  • Over 350,000 Victorian alive today have been diagnosed with cancer within the past 4 decades
  • Across all cancers, the 5-year survival rate is 73% for females and, for the first time, survival rates for males has reached 70%
  • 32 people die from cancer every day.
Cancer in Victoria 2022 Report
For further information and to read the report, please click on the image above.

National Nursing Workforce Strategy - Have your Say

Have your say on Australia's first National Nursing Workforce Strategy; the Australian Government wants to capture views on nursing workforce issues and identify opportunities for improvement to be considered when developing the strategy. It is hoped to better understand the enablers and barriers which may have an impact on improvements and innovations that enhance delivery of care. From this process, the Government can establish a clear objective for strategic grown and development of the nursing workforce.

Whilst the face to face workshops and webinars have now been completed you can participate in the consultation processing by completing an online survey; or via video or written submissions until 20 December 2023 by visiting the Department's Consultation Hub. 
Visit the Depts Consultation Hub
For more Victorian Integrated Cancer Service (VICS) information please visit the VICS website or alternatively subscribe to receive the bi-monthly VICS newsletter.

Cancer Events

Coming up in 2024

VCCC Alliance World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC) - 18 - 20 March 2024 in Melbourne. Find out more...

International Conference on Palliative and Supportive Care (ICPSC) - 26 March 2024 in Melbourne. Find out more... 

The Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca-PRI) Conference - 17 - 19 April 2024 in Melbourne. Find out more...  

Safer Care Victoria - Giant Steps 2024 - 29 May 2024 in Melbourne. Details pending. 

Cancer Nurses Society of Australia (CNSA) 26th Annual Congress - 19 - 21 June 2024 @ Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. Find out more... 
Do you qualify for our Professional Development Grants? 

Cancer Resources

Adult Cancer Resources Update

The Adult Cancer Resources section of the VICS website has a new filtering page to help you search more than 150 guidelines, forms, reports, videos, podcasts, and more from across our statewide network. Explore tools and evidence to guide your practice at 
View VICS Resources

Care of the Older Person with Cancer: TOOLKIT

The VICS Care of the Older Person with Cancer Toolkit has been developed to assist health services and ICS improve the care of the older person with cancer.

The toolkit provides information to help identify and address existing barriers, examples of existing geriatric oncology services and key resources including how-to guides, education opportunities and patient resources.
View the Toolkit

Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) - Get Support

Cancer Council Victoria have a significant amount of information available to help you to find the right support when you need it most to help you manage the news of diagnosis, treatment and life after cancer.

Visit their website for more information.
Thank You
On behalf of the GICS team, the GICS Consumer Advisory Group and the GICS Governance Group, we would like to thank you for all your support throughout the year and wish you all the best for the year ahead!
We would like to advise that our office will be closed over the Christmas / New Year period from close of business on Friday 22 December 2023 and re-opening on Tuesday 2 January 2024. A number of staff will be taking extended leave over summer, however they will endeavour to reply to your emails upon their return. 

Sharing News

Please feel free to share or forward our newsletter to your networks, family and friends.

If you have any forthcoming events or information, you would like us to share, please forward your content to GICS Admin.
Contact Us
Grampians Integrated Cancer Service
PO Box 577, Ballarat, VIC 3353

Ph: (03) 5320 4782
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The Victorian Integrated Cancer Services are supported by the Victorian Government