Seeking support when living with advanced cancer

A-Z of practical and support services


Cancer patients and carers who travel a long way for treatment can often get accommodation at or near the treatment centre. Facilities may be self-contained or shared, and the cost is sometimes subsidised.

  • Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20
  • Contact the hospital social worker

Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) – all states and territories operate a PATS.These schemes provide a subsidy to help with travel, escort and accommodation expenses incurred when rural and remote Australians travel to access specialised health care not available within a specified distance from where they live.

Carer services


Carers Australia – national body representing Australia’s carers, which can direct you to your state
or territory carer association.

Counselling and mentoring services

beyondblue – 24 hour telephone counselling service (online or email is also available 7 days a week)
Better Acces Initiative – Medicare-subsidised referral to counselling through your GP
LifeCircle ­- provides mentoring, telephone support and other support resources for carers.
Lifeline – 24 hour telephone and online support, information and referral service to help men with relationship issues.
Mensline Australia – 24 hour telephone and online support, information and referral service to help men with relationship issues.
National Association for Loss and Grief – 24 hour telephone support service to help those suffering from loss.
National Carer Counselling Program ­ ­ ­(NCCP) – offers short-term counselling to carers.
  • 1800 242 636

Equipment and aids

Independent Living Centres Australia – provides information on a range of products and services to help people remain independent and improve their quality of life.

Financial Assistance

Centrelink – offers financial support for people with a long-term illness and for primary carers.


Australian Funeral Directors Association – provides a listing of funeral directors and estimates of costs. It also has information on pre-paying for a funeral and planning for a funeral.

Home help

Support is available for people being cared for at home and their carers. Services vary from area to area. Some local councils provide a range of community and in-home services, such as Meals on Wheels or respite care. If you have a palliative care team, they can organise home help for you.  

Home nursing

Free home nursing can be organised as part of your palliative care. Private services are also available. If you have private health insurance, your policy may cover home nursing.
  • Talk to your palliative care team and/or your private health fund.
  • Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

Legal advice and information

A solicitor is the best person to ask about any legal matters. If you do not have a solicitor, contact Law Access NSW, which is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, advice and referrals.  

Palliative care

Palliative Care Australia provides information about palliative care services and facilities, and can link you to your local palliative care office.
Care Search – online palliative care resources, services, and evidence for patients, carers and families.
Australian Government Department of Health – responsible for cancer and palliative care information.

Pastoral care

Most large hospitals have a pastoral worker who can talk to you about practical and spiritual concerns (from all religious and non-religious viewpoints).
  • Contact your hospital.

Respite care

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres – can organise respite care for you, that is, when a patient is looked after by someone other than their usual carer. This gives their regular carer a break and time to attend to their own personal needs. Respite care can be for a few hours, overnight or for blocks of time.
  • 1800 052 222 (business hours)
  • Your palliative care team or social worker can advise.

Social worker

The hospital social worker offers a range of services for you and your family, such as counselling and debriefing. They can provide a link between you and the hospital system.
  • Contact your hospital or local community health centre.

Support groups

Many people find joining a support group helpful. Support groups allow people with cancer to talk about their experiences, hopes and fears in a non-judgmental, caring environment.

Face-to-face groups - meeting with others who understand what it is like to have cancer can be helpful. You may be reluctant to share your story or listen to other people’s, but most people find they benefit from the close bonds formed with other members.
  • Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20
  • Contact your hospital social worker to see if they run any support groups.
Telephone support groups – if getting together with others in person isn’t possible, you can join a telephone support group run by Cancer Council. There are groups for advanced cancer, carers and different cancer types.
  • Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20
Online discussion forums – people can connect with each other at any time, ask or answer questions or write a blog of their experiences.
This information was last reviewed in December 2013

This information has been reviewed by: Dr Kathy Pope, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Abbott, Cancer Care Dietitian, Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Frances Bellemore, Clinical Care Nurse, St Vincent’s Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Helpline and Cancer Counselling Service staff, Cancer Council QLD; Di Richardson, Consumer; Dr Mary Brooksbank, Philip Plummer and Claire Maskell Gibson on behalf of Palliative Care Australia. 

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