Cancer Council Pro Bono Press – Edition Four 2017

Message from Sarah Penman, National Pro Bono Manager

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Welcome to the festive edition of Pro Bono Press!

As the holiday season approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program for making 2017 another successful year of supporting people affected by cancer. We are very appreciative of all the time and effort our health professionals, lawyers, financial planners, small business accountants and HR professionals dedicate to the program –  your efforts are inspirational.

It has been another productive year for the Pro Bono Program and we’re pleased to say that so far this year we have been able to speak with 2,752 people affected by cancer who have been referred to the program for assistance across the country. We are so pleased to be able to deliver this service across the country and thank you for your efforts to raise awareness of the support available among those who need it the most. We look forward to working together with you all and continuing to help people in the community affected by cancer in 2018 and beyond.

In this edition, we recap our recent trips to Melbourne and Tasmania for the Health Justice Australia conference and the Financial Planning Association Congress where we met with incredible professionals who were interested or already involved in the delivery of pro bono assistance to people affected by cancer through our program. We also hear from Bentley Klein, principal of AXIOS Financial Solutions who talks about his involvement in the Pro Bono Program and why financial advice is so beneficial for people affected by cancer. In other news, Pro Bono team members attended the AMP pink ribbon day bake sales in Melbourne and Sydney to help raise funds towards cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support.

My final note for the edition is to bid you a fond farewell (for now) as I head off on maternity leave in January. I will be handing the reins to Michelle Smerdon who will be stepping into the National Pro Bono Manager role while I am away. In Michelle’s stead, we warmly welcome Alisha Mathews to the Pro Bono team as Pro Bono Case Manager.

On behalf of the whole Pro Bono team, I hope you have an enjoyable festive season and a wonderful start to 2018.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Many thanks


Sarah Penman, National Pro Bono Manager

Health Justice Australia Conference

Poster - HJA conferenceThe Pro Bono team packed their bags for the Health Justice Australia Conference on 30-31 October in Melbourne. Health Justice Australia aims to achieve better health and justice outcomes for vulnerable communities, aligning closely with the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program’s mission. The conference showcased the innovative work occurring in Australia and internationally to improve health and justice through partnerships within the legal and health industries. It was an opportunity for the team to hear from organisations who provide legal assistance in the health industry and to network with health professionals to promote the program.    

The team submitted a poster for the conference which outlined the free legal services Cancer Council provides to people affected by cancer through the Pro Bono Program and during the conference, the team had an opportunity to present to people about the poster and promote the different support services Cancer Council provides.

See the poster here: Free legal services for people affected by cancer



Chatting with Bentley Klein, principal of Melbourne-based financial advice firm, AXIOS Financial Solutions

Bentley KBentley Klein has over 30 years of experience as a financial adviser. As principal of AXIOS Financial Solutions he leads a team of advisers who volunteer their time to assist people affected by cancer attempting to eliminate some of their financial issues. Earlier this year, Bentley was ranked at 18 in the inaugural Top 50 Financial Advisers in Australia list compiled by Barrons, in recognition of his incredible work assisting clients in planning a financially secure future whilst enjoying a good lifestyle today. Bentley’s involvement in the community has and will continue to make a real difference in the lives of people and their families living with cancer.

What has been your involvement in the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program?

We first became involved in the Pro Bono Program in early 2015 through Cancer Council’s partnership with AMP and we assist clients referred to us with a variety of issues such as accessing insurance attached to superannuation and writing to lenders to help prevent the foreclosure of homes and other issues that may impact on their ability to deal with and focus on the real issues that are impacting on their lives: their health and spending quality time with their family.  Ultimately, we try to build an understanding between clients, financial institutions, Trustees of their superannuation funds and their lenders giving our clients some much needed breathing space. We aim to assist in both reactive and proactive ways to improve our clients’ financial situations moving forward.

Why do you think access to financial planning assistance for people affected by cancer is important?

Often in a relationship there is one person who takes the lead with their shared finances, and when this person is affected by cancer this responsibility then falls on the other person who may not feel confident in managing their finances moving forward. We know that understanding the implications of financial decisions can be daunting and we want to use our expertise to show these people that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Through the Pro Bono Program we are able to instil confidence in people who are navigating difficult financial situations and otherwise would not be able to afford the cost of advice. This allows clients to tap in to our expertise, putting them at ease and lessening their burden.

In my own past experience with cancer, I was well protected for an event that was never going to happen to me and whilst my financial situation would not have been a disaster without my trauma and income protection policy, I had the comfort of knowing that my financial affairs were always in order, and my family would always be financially well looked after. I believe this had a profound and positive impact on my mental state and my ability to get back to health quickly.

Can you touch on some highlights of your involvement in the program?
A highlight of my involvement in the program so far would be sitting down with a young family who were in a relatively stable financial situation until a cancer diagnosis changed their circumstances significantly. It felt fantastic to be able to assist these clients with their financial needs and to explain things in a simplistic way and see the relief felt by the family.

Pink Ribbon Day

During the month of October you may have seen a swarm of pink across the country as we celebrated Pink Ribbon Day to raise funds to support women affected by breast and gynaecological cancers. Proceeds raised from Pink Ribbon events including girls’ nights out, breakfasts and delicious bake sales go towards funding world-class research, prevention and support services to reduce the impact of women’s cancers.

This year, AMP staff baked up a storm of pink cupcakes and hosted Pink Ribbon bake sales in their Melbourne and Sydney offices to support this valuable cause. The Pro Bono Team attended the event at AMP and assisted in selling (and eating) scrumptious pink treats.  

The Pink Ribbon bake sale raised $2,775.75 across the AMP Sydney and Melbourne offices and this was generously dollar matched by the AMP Foundation, leading to a total of $5,551.50 raised on the day!

Cancer Council would like to thank everyone involved in making this year’s Pink Ribbon Day such an enormous success.

For more information on Pink Ribbon Day, see

Pink ribbon day3Pink ribbon day1

Engaging with the Tasmanian community

FPA pic1Pro Bono Case Managers Michelle Smerdon and Laura Muir travelled to Tasmania in late November to engage with wonderful service providers and referrers in Launceston and Hobart, as well as to promote the program to new financial planners at the Financial Planning Association Congress.

Michelle and Laura were invited by the Financial Planning Association to attend the Financial Planning Association Congress from 23-24 November to promote the program to prospective financial advisors. They enjoyed speaking with advisors and answering questions about the program, and overall received a huge amount of interest in the program. We look forward to seeing more financial planners get involved in the program after hearing all about it at the congress!  It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet some of our dedicated advisors who are already involved in the program across the country.

Earlier in the week before the conference, Michelle and Laura spent time in Launceston and Hobart speaking with health professionals at treatment centres about the program. This was a great opportunity to talk about the breadth of support our professionals can provide, and to raise awareness so we can help even more people affected by cancer across Tasmania.

Did you know?

The Pro Bono Program can provide people affected by cancer with a wide range of assistance. This includes assisting both individuals diagnosed with cancer, as well as their carers and bereaved carers. We may also be able to help eligible clients with more than one issue through our different referral services.

Some issues that we may be able to assist with include:

  • Employment law and workplace issues
  • Accessing superannuation and Centrelink
  • Debt management
  • Insurance disputes
  • Consumer credit and debt matters

If you are currently assisting a client and believe they may benefit from additional assistance, please let us know and we may be able to refer them for further pro bono assistance.

If you have any questions about whether we can assist your clients, please contact the Pro Bono team on 1300 856 199 or by email

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