Message from Michelle Smerdon, National Pro Bono Manager
As I sit down to write this message, cup of tea in hand, I encourage you to join me and prepare yourself a cuppa for two reasons: the crisp and somewhat icy winter weather (depending where in Australia you are based!), and in celebration of the 25th year of Cancer Council’s annual fundraising event, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. One Australian is diagnosed with cancer approximately every 5 minutes, the length of an average tea break. At Cancer Council, we provide vital support to ensure that these individuals do not face cancer alone, and we couldn’t do it without you.
With the end of the financial year behind us, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the achievements that have been realised by working with you all to alleviate the legal and financial burden for people affected by cancer and allow people to focus on their treatment and journey ahead. An amazing $4.9 million of pro bono advice has been provided to people affected by cancer across the country in the last 12 months. Everyone involved in the Pro Bono Program has been integral in helping deliver an incredible amount of support, and I would like to thank you all very much.
A lot has happened since we were last in touch and there is still a great deal ahead for the Pro Bono Program this year. In this edition, we reflect further on the achievements of the Program over the last financial year, and we share one of the many incredible outcomes that the assistance the program and our volunteer professionals can achieve for people affected by cancer. In the last few months we were delighted to embrace opportunities to promote the program, with team members presenting at an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event, hosted by NAB in Sydney, and one of our wonderful financial planners presenting about her work through the program during a Financial Matters webinar for people affected by cancer.
I hope you enjoy our winter update and please get in touch with us if there is anything you’d like us to share in our next edition.
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support.
Michelle Smerdon, National Pro Bono Manager
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea
During the months of May and June workplaces, schools, clubs and individuals across Australia participated in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea to help raise vital funds for people affected by cancer. Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is Cancer Council’s biggest fundraising event and the largest host-based fundraiser in the southern hemisphere. This year’s Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea marked the 25th anniversary of the annual fundraiser, and every cup of tea contributed to funding Cancer Council research, support services, prevention programs and advocacy.
This year, the Pro Bono Program’s Cindy Berghofer and Laura Muir were invited to speak at a Morning Tea hosted by NAB in Sydney. Over the course of the morning (and over multiple cups of tea!), Laura and Cindy highlighted the vital support provided by Cancer Councils across the country, and talked about the work the Pro Bono Program, and what its referrers and professionals do to support people affected by cancer. NAB raised over $600 during the event and we would like to extend a big thank you to NAB for inviting us along!
The Pro Bono team would also like to thank everyone across the country who hosted, attended or donated to a Morning Tea.
The Financial Year for the Pro Bono Program
As we near the end of August, the Pro Bono team have reflected on the incredible support and assistance that the program, its referrers and generous professionals have provided to people affected by cancer over the last financial year.
During the 2017/18 financial year, 2,865 people affected by cancer were referred to the Pro Bono Program for assistance with 3,608 legal, financial, workplace or small business issues.
The graph below highlights the types of matters we assisted clients with across the financial year:
Our volunteer professionals provided over $4.9 million of commercial advice to clients. This exceptional amount of assistance and advice could not have been achieved without the dedicated health professionals who refer clients to the program, and the generous professional service providers who volunteer their time and expertise to provide this advice.
We would like to take this opportunity to share one of many positive stories that reflects the range of assistance the program connected people with:
After receiving a referral for a person affected by cancer who owned a small business, we referred this person to a lawyer to complete his will, a small business advisor for assistance with winding up his small business, and to a financial planner for assistance with accessing his superannuation and insurance. The financial planner let us know that he was able to locate an additional superannuation fund for the client that he was unaware he owned. The financial planner assisted the client to access the superannuation and insurance attached to both funds, which equated to over $350,000. Accessing this money allowed this client to repay his outstanding debts, and lightened the financial stress and burden associated with his cancer diagnosis.
This story highlights the outstanding work of our volunteer professionals who go above and beyond to support people affected by cancer on a pro bono basis.
Financial Matters Webinar
Cancer Council Financial Counsellor, Lynette Brailey, Hillross Financial Planner, Sue Morris, and Westmead Oncology Social Worker, Kim Hobbs, discuss managing the financial impact of cancer in the Cancer Council webinar, Financial Matters – “How will I manage financially.”
Did you know? Friday 24 August is Daffodil Day
Daffodil Day is fast approaching! This year, Cancer Council will be celebrating 32 years of Daffodil Day, and our annual fundraising event will take place this Friday 24th August. To Cancer Council, the daffodil represents hope for a cancer free future. Be sure to purchase a daffodil for someone you love, to help raise funds for live-saving cancer research.
You can be a part of the action too – click here to dedicate a daffodil to a loved one, simply donate or find out more about Daffodil Day.
Pro Bono in the News
- Australian Pro Bono Centre reveals changes to national target. Lawyers Weekly (June 2018)
- Pro bono is no side project for law firms. Financial Times (June 2018)
- Podcast: Seeing law as a service to the community. Lawyers Weekly (May 2018)
- Tasmania’s first online chat service for accessing legal information. The Examiner (May 2018)