‘Cancer Council Pro Bono Press – Edition Three 2017’

Message from Sarah Penman, National Pro Bono Manager

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Welcome to the 3rd edition of Pro Bono Press for 2017 and isn’t the year flying by! I have well and truly settled back into the role of National Pro Bono Manager and I am really enjoying working closely with our wonderful referrers and service providers again.

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to two new team members who have recently joined the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program. Laura Muir joins the team as Pro Bono Case Manager while Sally Linwood is on parental leave, and Sophie Anderson joins the team as Paralegal, having previously volunteered with the team as one of our star legal interns.

It’s been a busy 3 months following end of financial year and I wanted to share some of our achievements over the 16/17 financial year. Over the past year, we received referrals for more than 2,900 clients. We also registered over 130 new businesses whose staff have signed on to volunteer to provide essential assistance to people affected by cancer across the country. These new practices join the 1,084 teams who are already providing invaluable assistance to people affected by cancer across the country through the Pro Bono Program. All of these incredible professionals together contributed over $5 million of pro bono advice through the program – an amazing achievement and a valued contribution to Cancer Council’s mission!  

In this edition of Pro Bono Press we share from the story of Natalie Goodall, a wonderful lawyer who has provided support to the Program in various roles for the past 4 years. We also showcase the Adviser Association Conference in Queensland where Case Manager Michelle Smerdon spoke with financial planners to promote the program. 

On a broader Cancer Council level, the Pro Bono Team joined many other volunteers to hit the streets to raise awareness and money for our mission to beat cancer on Daffodil Day, and enjoyed hearing stories from the community about the support we have provided to people affected by cancer.

I look forward to working with you all and I’m exciting to see what these next few months will have in store for the program. 

Many thanks



Sarah Penman, National Pro Bono Manager

Chatting with Natalie Goodall, lawyer at Cater & Blumer

Natalie photoNatalie started with the program in 2013 as a law student volunteer, contacting clients to assess their eligibility for pro bono support and discuss their legal and financial issues and options. Natalie then took on a graduate role with Sparke Helmore Lawyers, one of the law firm partners of Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program, and we were lucky enough to have Natalie return to the program as a Pro Bono Secondee, working in the role as Case Manager to connect clients with volunteer professionals and expand the reach of the program.  Following her move to Griffith, Natalie now works at Cater & Blumer, a regional commercial law firm, and volunteers her time and professional expertise as a lawyer to assist people affected by cancer in Griffith and surrounding villages with estate documents.    Natalie Goodall has a wealth of experience working with the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program in unique and various roles over the past 4 years.

We spoke with Natalie about her experience working with the program.

Why do you think access to justice for people affected by cancer is important?

Access to justice is important for everyone, but especially so for people who are already experiencing the physical, financial and emotional burden of cancer. With a cancer diagnosis, access to basic legal assistance becomes urgent but because of the time and cost pressures of a diagnosis, it likely drops to low on the priority list.

Access to justice is not only important for the person affected by cancer but also their family and support network. The ramifications of a diagnosis are evident long after an individual survives or passes, with employment, finances and relationships having been disrupted. Something as simple as preparing a will, can mean a grieving family do not have to endure the cost, stress and time of dealing with an intestate estate. 

Can you tell us some highlights of your involvement with the program?

The ultimate highlight is receiving feedback about how a client’s circumstances have improved following their interaction with the Pro Bono Program. Some examples include a client who was really worried her daughter could not cope with end of life medical decisions, and so we prepared an Appointment of Enduring Guardian appointing another family member. Another client was worried about who would be the guardian for her minor child and did not know she could “have a say” in who that may be. We prepared her will to include the appointment of a family member she trusted as the guardian. Then there have been various instances where a client was able to access their superannuation and thereafter purchased a more accessible vehicle or a holiday for their family.

A further highlight has been the connections made with other service providers in the community. The link between financial and legal assistance cannot be understated. Where a client is receiving both financial and legal assistance through the Program, being able to brainstorm and flag key issues with the other service provider will always improve the outcome for the client.  

Enhancing Community Knowledge and Engagement with Law at the End of Life (ARC Linkage Project administered by QUT)

Through the Pro Bono Program, we often assist clients who have advanced cancer with end of life legal documents. We often hear that people in the community are not aware of their legal rights at end of life and would appreciate legal advice around this.

The Australian Research Council and Queensland University of Technology are undertaking a project to investigate if people in the community understand and act upon their legal right to participate in decisions about medical treatment for themselves or for their loved ones at the end of life. QUT says that this research will enhance patient and family decision-making through a better understanding of legal rights, powers and duties and will improve the experiences of patients and families at the end of life. They have recently released their finding of phase 1 results which you can see here. We look forward to hearing more from this exciting project.

For Someone I know” – Daffodil Day 2017

Daffodil Day is one of the biggest events in Cancer Council’s calendar, and this year was another huge success. On Friday 25 August, thousands of volunteers contributed their time and support to shower the country in yellow to raise funds for Daffodil Day – the Sydney Opera House even turned yellow for the occasion! Volunteers manned stalls across Australia selling daffodils, bears and other merchandise, aiming to beat the $5.6 million that last year’s event raised!

Daffodil Day raises funds to support the work of Cancer Council across cancer research, prevention, and support services, including the Pro Bono Program. Every day over 350 Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and the support of the community during events like Daffodil Day is essential to contributing towards our mission to beat cancer.

Cancer Council would like to thank the extraordinary efforts of all our volunteers and team members who made this year’s Daffodil Day so successful, and to the community for its remarkable support. It was a truly wonderful day for all involved.


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Adviser Association Conference QLD

The Pro Bono Team is always looking for new ways to promote the program, as well as ways to reach out to professionals who are already involved in the program to talk about their experiences. Pro Bono Case Manager Michelle Smerdon was invited to the Adviser Association Conference in Queensland and presented to AMP financial planners in QLD about the program and how they can get involved.

Michelle registered a number of additional financial advisers to be involved and enjoyed hearing financial advisers talk about how their involvement working with people affected by cancer had enhanced their own professional and interpersonal skills and had allowed them to feel they were making a meaningful contribution to their community.

If you know of any opportunities where the team can promote the great work done through the program, please let us know!

Did you know?

Cancer Council Information and SupportCapture

Cancer Council’s Information and Support line 13 11 20 is available for people to call anytime they would like any Cancer Council support services, such as pro bono assistance. If your clients aren’t ready to proceed with a referral when you speak with them, please encourage them to call 13 11 20 when they are in a position to receive advice and support.

We always encourage people to seek help as early as possible and as soon as an issue arises so we can alleviate the burden for the family and give them peace of mind.

For more information on the Pro Bono Program:

If you are ever unsure of whether a referral is within the scope of the Pro Bono Program or if you have any other questions about the program, please always feel free to call a member of the Pro Bono team on 1300 856 199 or send an email to probono@cancercouncil.org.au


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