National Pro Bono Day falls in National Volunteers Week and Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program simply could not operate without the support of the legal, financial and HR professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to advise cancer patients and their families on a free basis when they can’t afford it.
A cancer diagnosis can be an extremely stressful and emotional time for patients, their carers and families, and the complexities of accessing funds and managing debts at a time when they need to focus on their health, can carry additional, unnecessary stress.
“We know that a cancer diagnosis can mean loss of income, on top of many out-of-pocket costs that may not be covered by insurance,” says Laura Muir who manages Cancer Council’s Legal and Financial Services team. “These costs can impact people’s treatment decisions and limit their access to professional services, particularly for those already experiencing disadvantage.”
“In the last financial year we received requests for assistance with 2,942 legal, financial and workplace issues. We anticipate demand for Cancer Council’s legal and financial support services will increase alongside rising costs of living which are putting pressure on people who are already struggling.”
Laura and her team connect people affected by cancer with volunteer professionals in the community who provide free advice and assistance to those that can’t afford it. These professionals assist people to resolve issues arising from or made harder by a cancer diagnosis, like getting their affairs in order, accessing their superannuation and insurances or how to communicate with their employer about their cancer diagnosis, to name a few.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to work with lawyers, financial planners, small business accountants and HR professionals across the country who so generously provide their advice on a pro bono basis. The intersection of National Pro Bono Day and National Volunteer Week is the perfect opportunity to recognise their voluntary contributions to the community.”
With a legal background herself, Laura is passionate about advocating for and ensuring access to justice for vulnerable and disadvantaged clients and communities, “Contributing to the community through my work, skills and knowledge is significant to me. The most rewarding moments involve seeing stress alleviated for individuals so they can focus on their health, recovery, and family time.”,
Through the program, financial advisers can assist people with accessing superannuation and insurance, reviewing existing insurance policies, managing debts and accessing government payments. Ian Granter from Viridian Advisory says that Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program has seen many people access the help they need, “We know that when managing the stressful and emotional challenges of diagnosis and treatment, financial worries can only make matters worse. As professionals, we have the ability and the responsibility to make a difference where others cannot.
“Pro Bono work in this area is more important than ever with the cost of living rising and the financial landscape becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. While more Australian’s need advice than ever before, many simply can’t afford it,” Ian says the pro bono partnership Viridian Advisory and Cancer Council have means those who are facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be given peace of mind in knowing their financial matters are being taken care of.