A letter to the Premier Hon Mark McGowan MLA

A letter to the Premier Hon Mark McGowan MLA

3rd April 2020

Hon Mark McGowan MLA

Premier; Minister for Public Sector Management; State Development; Jobs and Trade; Federal State Relations

5th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, WEST PERTH WA 6005

Dear Premier

On behalf of all of us at Solaris Cancer Care, I want to both thank and congratulate yourself, Health Minister Roger Cook and Dr Andrew Robertson for being so decisive, pro-active and displaying such strong leadership. We are proud to be West Australian and to call you our Premier at this time.

Times are tough for all West Australians as people try to navigate their way through both the health and economic uncertainties which have arisen from COVID-19 and we appreciate that many, many people are in need.

Supporting cancer patients, who are already immune-compromised and fighting for their lives, and their families / carers through such uncertain times adds another layer of complexity to an already vastly complicated situation. With over 13,000 cancer diagnoses, and three in 10 deaths from cancer each year in Western Australia, it touches many lives regardless of global pandemics and economic meltdowns.  Last year alone, Solaris provided 28,000 supportive care treatments to everyday West Australians, valued at over $1.74 million.

We just want to assure you that we are continuing to support this vulnerable part of our community both in the metropolitan and regional areas through our evidence-based education and support services.  As you will know, supportive care was acknowledged as a key pillar for patients and families in your governments WA Cancer Plan 2020-2025.

Knowing our clients would be the first to have to seriously consider self-isolation, skipping the self-distancing step altogether, with the help of volunteers and pro-bono contributions we went from face-to-face to remote service (on-line and phone) in a matter of 48 hours in mid-March. Our services are now all being conducted remotely.  Our online support and counselling are being fully used across the State and demand is increasing at an unprecedented rate and we are committed to rise to the challenges which stand before us.  Solaris Cancer Care is helping to provide vital mental health and wellbeing support to those that need it most.

As you may be aware, unlike many of cancer support organisations, we assist people with all types of cancers as well as providing support from behind the scenes for organisations like the Cancer Council of WA, Melanoma WA, the various breast cancer support organisations and others. We are often the first port of call for supportive care, and follow this through to palliative care and survivorship.

So how can the State Government help to keep these essential services going? To this end we have applied for a Lotterywest COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to ensure the continuity and expansion of our essential services to not just cancer patients and their families, but the general public. Many of the evidence-based services we offer are the key to mental health and wellbeing when dealing with a health crisis, particularly given the projected effects of isolation.

We also currently have an application in with the Department of Health which, if approved, will help keep us operational in coming months.

Solaris Cancer Care is stepping up to help all West Australians and play our part in meeting these urgent needs allowing you to get on with leading our State through this crisis to emerge stronger than ever. Please support our applications for grants and we will be there, continuing to stand by your side in the trenches until this war is over.

Thanks for your consideration.

David Edwards

Managing Director / CEO