Other rights issues

Other issues you may face during or after cancer treatment include:

  • purchasing and claiming on insurance policies
  • access to superannuation, reimbursements, benefits and pensions
  • dealing with debts
  • your rights in the workplace
  • concerns you may have about advanced cancer and end of life.

For more information, including what to do if insurance claims are rejected, delayed or reduced, you can refer to Cancer Council’s booklet Cancer and Your Finances and fact sheets about workplace, legal, financial and insurance issues. You may also want to consider obtaining independent legal and financial advice about any issues covered in this section.

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You may have taken out personal insurance policies, such as income and mortgage protection, or life or trauma insurance, before you were diagnosed with cancer. Usually this will mean you do not need to inform the insurer about your cancer diagnosis until you renew your policy or change your level of cover.

However, it is a good idea to check your insurance policy to see what it says about disclosing health issues.

Can insurance companies refuse cover?

Insurance companies are allowed to refuse cover, but only on reasonable grounds.

This does not include health insurance – it is unlawful to be denied health insurance.

Can I still get travel insurance?

Travel insurance can be a major concern for people with cancer or who have had cancer. Insurance companies may view you as more of a risk. They may believe that you’re more likely to get sick and require treatment while you’re travelling, need to return home for treatment, or cancel your trip due to illness.

Travel insurance policies can cover the basics, such as lost luggage and cancelled flights, as well as overseas medical expenses and death or disability cover. If you have to disclose any pre-existing health conditions, be honest – a claim may be denied if you withhold information.

Tips for applying for travel insurance

  • Apply for a policy well before your departure date.
  • Shop around – the terms and conditions may vary.
  • Ask your specialist or GP to write a detailed letter outlining your condition.
  • If you are travelling overseas, check whether there is a reciprocal health care agreement between Australia and the country you are visiting so you can access medical treatment. Visit humanservices.gov.au and search ‘reciprocal agreements’.
  • Some credit cards offer free travel insurance if you use the card to pay for some or all of the trip. Read the fine print.
  • If you are denied travel insurance, ask the insurer to provide reasons in writing.


If cancer causes financial issues, you may consider accessing your superannuation or claiming on insurance policies that might be attached to your superannuation account.

Cancer Council produces fact sheets that provide state and territory-specific information about superannuation. 

Reimbursements, benefits and pensions

The Department of Human Services offers a range of payments to people with cancer via Centrelink. 

  • Sickness Allowance – for people aged 22 or older who can’t work or study due to illness
  • Mobility Allowance – for people who can’t use public transport without substantial assistance due to illness and who need to travel for work or study
  • Disability Support Pension – for people with a medical condition that means they are unable to work.

Medicare has reimbursement programs for people who require certain medical supplies, such as prostheses or stoma accessories.

For more information about reimbursements, benefits and pensions, see humanservices.gov.au or visit a Centrelink or Medicare office.

Dealing with debts

If you are struggling with debts, such as your mortgage or credit card bills, talk to your lenders about your financial situation and see what options are available. These may include:

  • extending your loan term
  • reducing or pausing repayments
  • changing to interest-only repayments
  • renegotiating your interest rate

If you’re having trouble paying your utility bills, such as electricity, gas, water, phone or internet, talk to your provider. They can help you find a way to avoid disconnection and penalty fees.

Access a dispute resolute schemes

If you’re not satisfied with the response you receive from your lender, you can complain via a free external dispute resolution scheme.

  • Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (fos.org.au)
  • Credit and Investments Ombudsman (cio.org.au). 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s MoneySmart website has information about making complaints – visit moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/how-to-complain.

Talk to a financial counsellor

A financial counsellor can help you to budget and work out a plan to manage your debts. Visit financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au to find a counsellor in your area.

Workplace issues

If you are employed or hope to return to work after treatment, you might wonder how cancer will affect your job. You may be concerned about your leave entitlements, discrimination at work, unfair dismissal or your right to flexible working hours.

Some of the issues described here differ between Australian states and territories, and they may depend on the industry you work in. 

Taking leave

Full-time employees except casuals – entitled to 10 days of paid personal leave each year, including sick leave.

Part-time employees – receive entitlement on a pro rata basis.

If you need to take more time off, you may be able to take unpaid leave or make another arrangement with your employer.


Being discriminated against at work because you have cancer is against the law.

Examples of discrimination include being prevented from taking leave that you are entitled to and being sacked for a reason related to your cancer diagnosis.

How to make a complaint

Most complaints are resolved through mediation or conciliation, which is an informal type of resolution.

If mediation doesn’t work, you may go to an administrative tribunal. Tribunals are less formal than courts, and you may not need legal representation. A tribunal has the power to make a legal judgment that must be followed.

You can lodge a complaint with the following:

  • Australian Human Rights Commission (humanrights.gov.au)
  • The anti-discrimination, equal opportunity or human rights agency in your state or territory.
  • Fair Work Commission (fwc.gov.au) – if you have been dismissed from your job or experienced other disadvantage due to your cancer diagnosis.

Special arrangments

Your employer may need to make arrangements to help you manage your work responsibilities while you are having or recovering from treatment. They can only refuse to provide these arrangements if the changes would cause serious hardship to their business.

Some examples of flexible arrangements are:

  • allowing you to work from home some or all days
  • changing your start, finish or break times
  • allowing you to vary your hours, work part-time or job share
  • varying the amount of unpaid or paid leave you can take and when you can take it.



Australian Capital Territory

ACT Human Rights Commission
02 6205 2222

New South Wales

Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW
02 9268 5544 or 1800 670 812 (regional NSW only)

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
1800 813 846


Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland
1300 130 670

South Australia

Equal Opportunity Commission
08 8207 1977 or 1800 188 163 (country callers)


Equal Opportunity Tasmania
1300 305 062


Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission
1300 292 153

Western Australia

Equal Opportunity Commission
08 9216 3900 or 1800 198 149 (country callers)

Read more about workplace issues

Advanced cancer issues

If you have cancer that has spread or come back, you may live for many years. However, some people with advanced cancer want to outline their wishes for end-of-life care.

Making plans may give you peace of mind and help you to make your wishes clear to your family, friends, carers and health care providers.

  • You have a right to make treatment decisions as long as you have capacity, including decisions about accessing palliative care services, and stopping or refusing treatment. You can also request that treatment continue as long as it could be of benefit.
  • You can appoint someone to make decisions for you and/or create an advance care plan. Each state and territory has different laws and types of documents.
  • You can make a will that details how you want your assets and belongings (your estate) distributed after you die.
  • You can indicate where you would prefer to die (e.g. at home, or in a hospice or hospital).

    New Insurance Policies NSW fact sheet

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2016
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Cancer information

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