Cancer Council Pro Bono Press Issue 15 – Holiday Edition 2016

Message from Maria Shaw, National Pro Bono ManagerPhoto of Maria

Welcome to the Holiday edition of Pro Bono Press!

With the festive season just around the corner, we would like to say a big thank you to all of the incredible health professionals, lawyers, financial planners, small business and workplace advisors for your ongoing hard work and commitment towards supporting people affected by cancer.

It has been a big year for the Pro Bono Program and we’ve seen a large increase in clients being referred to and assisted by the program across the country. In the early days of the program in 2010, 636 people were referred for much needed assistance. This year alone we have received referrals for over 3000 people! We are so pleased to be working together to deliver this invaluable service to people affected by cancer across the country.


The Pro Bono Team

This edition of Pro Bono Press features the profiles of wonderful women dedicated to the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program. You will meet Freda Sambell, a social worker at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Caroline Taylor, former National Pro Bono Coordinator at AMP. We’ve also included a short video, where you will have the chance to meet one of our dedicated volunteer interns, Sharlyne Batulan, our program coordinator Cindy Berghofer, one of our Pro Bono Case Managers Michelle Smerdon and myself and hear about why we are so passionate about the work we do through the program.

If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in this e-newsletter, please do not hesitate to let me or one of our Pro Bono Case Managers know.

From the whole team, we hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season ahead and we look forward to working with you in 2017.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

maria signature JPEG



Maria Shaw, National Manager, Pro Bono Program


Pink Ribbon Day 2016

Cancer Council’s 2016 Pink Ribbon Day was a great success, with thousands of Australians looking pretty in pink to raise money and awareness for women affected by breast and gynaecological cancers.

Valuable money was raised across Australia through high teas, bake sales, merchandise stalls and Girls Nights Out, with all proceeds going to help fund world-class research, prevention and support services to help people affected by cancer.

The Pro Bono Team attended a Pink Ribbon morning tea in Sydney, hosted by financial services company AMP.

AMP staff were enthusiastic in their fundraising efforts, making some delicious and creative morning tea treats, and raising nearly $1500 across Sydney and Melbourne. AMP generously matched that fundraising effort dollar for dollar!

For more information on Pink Ribbon Day, see 


Referrer Profile: Freda Sambell, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital WA

Freda Sambell has been referring people affected by cancer to the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program for 3 years (since before the program was officially rolled out in WA!). She shares her background and insights into why she refers people to the program….

Freda Sambell SCGH“I started working as a Welfare Officer with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, a large tertiary adult teaching hospital and the Cancer Hub for Perth, in April 2008. I also completed a Bachelor of Social Work from Curtin University in 2007. I found my varied role so rewarding that I decided to remain in a Welfare Officer position.

Over time after working in other medical specialities, I began to work almost exclusively with cancer patients and their families in the inpatient and outpatient setting. I have found this work extremely challenging and rewarding! I am constantly amazed by the resilience of the human spirit in cancer patients and their carers. The financial impact that cancer can have on families is wide ranging.

This impact can vary depending on individual circumstances such as age, their dependants, support network and financial circumstances at the time of diagnosis. The Pro Bono Program has been an extremely welcome service to assist families to navigate and get expert advice and assistance to negotiate their changed financial situations.

When I assess the patients/ families financial situation, depending on the need I recommend the Pro Bono Service. I have received positive feedback from patients regarding this service. Patients have identified that their financial stressors have been relieved through the support and direction received through the professionals of this service.”

Profile: Caroline Taylor AMP

Caroline Taylor AMPCaroline Taylor has worked with the Cancer Council Pro Bono team for the past 2 years, supporting AMP financial advisors who volunteer their time through the program and organising communications and events (such as the delicious AMP bake sale mentioned above!). As Caroline transitions to a new role, we asked her to reflect upon her time working with the program…  


What is your background and how long have you been working at AMP?

I started my career in the property industry in my hometown of Dublin, Ireland. In 2010, I decided to expand my horizons and moved from Ireland to Sydney, where I was hired into the events team at AMP. Over the last six years I have worked in various roles that specialise in communications, reporting and analysis, project and change management and over the past two years, the AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Program.

What did your role involve in terms of working with the Pro Bono Program?

I managed AMP’s relationship with the Cancer Council and ensured the smooth operation of the Pro Bono Program within AMP. From communications to the organising of events to the reporting and building of support material, my role supported the financial advisers who kindly donate their time and financial expertise to helping families affected by cancer.

What did you enjoy most about working with the Pro Bono Program?

The most rewarding part of my role was hearing about the great outcomes delivered to assist clients who are disadvantaged or affected by illness. Since the inception of the program, almost 4,000 people and their families have received assistance. This effort takes the weight off the shoulders of families who need to focus on caring and attending to someone who is affected by cancer. This is one of the most humbling moments a financial adviser can have.

We regularly receive feedback from clients expressing their gratitude to advisers, knowing that their families have been taken care of financially. To me, this really embodies the true value of financial advice.

What is one aspect of the Program you will remember as you embark on your new role?

As I move on to my next role at AMP, I will remember the conversations I had with some of the wonderful pro bono advisers at our annual conference last year. The client stories they shared with me were truly touching, and it made me very proud to be part of this program. And of course, the outstanding work that is done by everyone at the Cancer Council each year is truly exceptional. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work so closely with the Cancer Council over the past two years and will continue to support them by donating, fundraising and stocking up on their wonderful sunscreen products to keep my Irish skin protected!

The Client’s Experience

As we’ve seen from both Freda and Caroline, a cancer diagnosis can have an enormous impact on the physical, emotional, social and financial aspects of a person’s life. The objective of the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program is to assist people who would otherwise be unable to access legal, financial, workplace and small business advice because of cost, illness or other barriers. The psychosocial benefit of receiving pro bono assistance is reported to be immense, with patients noting a reduction in their levels of worry and stress, an increased sense of support, confidence and reassurance.

This year alone we have received referrals for just over 3000 clients. While each client is unique, we wanted to show you the typical issues we may assist our clients with through the Pro Bono Program.

Paul and Jane, while fictional characters, represent clients facing common issues who are referred to and assisted by the Pro Bono Program. Here’s how they were assisted through the program;

Client familyPaul, a 38-year-old father of 2 and owner of a small cafe, was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. Paul needed to stop working suddenly to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. He was told that he would be too unwell to return to work for at least a year, while Jane, his wife, needed to reduce her hours as a teacher to care for him and their three small children.

With a mortgage, a car loan and credit card repayments overdue, Paul and Jane were feeling increasingly overwhelmed. Jane contacted the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to discuss their situation and to see if any support was available. She was referred to the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program. Once the Pro Bono Program determined their eligibility for assistance through a series of financial questions, Paul and Jane were referred to a financial planner, who was able to provide them with advice around accessing other forms of income during Paul’s treatment. The financial planner assisted Paul to access his income protection insurance, as well as providing him and Jane with advice as to their eligibility for Centrelink payments and assistance with the paperwork.

While speaking with our team, Jane let us know that she was concerned about asking her manager for time off work to care for Paul throughout treatment. The Pro Bono Program put Jane in touch with a workplace advisor who talked her through some strategies for negotiating flexible working arrangements. Having been made aware of her workplace entitlements, Jane was able to speak confidently with her employer about her options.

Paul and Jane say they feel reassured and have a sense of clarity of their situation. They are able to focus their energy on Paul’s health and spending time with family.

When we evaluated the Pro Bono Program in 2015, one of our clients wrote:

“We were stressed about everything that is happening and our income had almost disappeared. This program meant we could get some great advice which we would not have afforded otherwise. It means one less thing to worry about”

If eligible, clients may be referred to multiple professionals for assistance with different legal, financial, small business and human resources advice. If you are ever unsure if the issue is within the scope of our program, please do not hesitate to email us at

Meet the team!

We chatted with a few members of the Pro Bono Team about their experience working for the Pro Bono Program. You can hear about their role and why they think the program is so important here.


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