Message from Maria Shaw, National Pro Bono Manager
Welcome to our first edition of Pro Bono Press for 2017!
It is already shaping up to be another busy year. In January we received our 14,000th referral to the Pro Bono Program. As always, we are very grateful to our referrers for keeping the Pro Bono Program in mind and to our volunteer professionals for the incredible work you do every day in supporting people affected by cancer across Australia.
In January this year, I had the privilege of presenting the AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Practice of the Year Award at the annual AMP Advice Summit in Melbourne. This award recognises the AMP Financial Planning practices that make outstanding contributions to the Pro Bono Program. We share more about the AMP Advice Summit and the AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Practice of the Year Award below, as well as a case study on the many ways financial planners can assist in easing the financial burden of cancer.
February 4 was World Cancer Day, a global event to educate and promote awareness about cancer. This year continued the theme of “We Can. I Can”, encouraging people around the world to be more active in the fight against cancer. This resonates strongly with the Pro Bono Program, as we rely on the support of over 1,000 volunteer professionals, actively helping people affected by cancer get the help they need by overcoming barriers such as cost, distance and uncertainty around their rights.
In other exciting news, we have also welcomed a new Paralegal, Lehana De Silva, to the Pro Bono Team. Lehana was a volunteer for the Pro Bono Program for 18 months before taking on the role. We are very lucky to have her on board!
From the whole team at the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program, we are excited to be working with you in 2017 and by the prospect of all that we can achieve.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support and ongoing assistance.
Maria Shaw, National Manager, Pro Bono Program
AMP Advice Summit
The Pro Bono team was delighted to attend the 2017 AMP Advice Summit in January. This event is always a fantastic opportunity for us to meet with representatives from AMP Financial Planning, Hillross, Charter and ipac who volunteer their time to provide people affected by cancer with pro bono financial planning assistance – not to mention a great way for us to recruit new practices to help even more people across the country! We were thrilled by the level of interest in the program and are looking forward to working with all the new advisers who have come on board.
It was a pleasure to meet so many advisers who assist clients referred through the Pro Bono Program and to hear about the way that professional financial advice can reduce stress and allow people to focus on health and family, as well as the personal satisfaction that many advisers get out of their involvement in the program.
During the Summit, National Pro Bono Manager Maria Shaw presented the annual AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Practice of the Year Award which recognises AMP Financial Planning practices who are outstanding contributors to the Pro Bono Program.
A huge congratulations to the winner, Darwin Financial Services. Darwin Financial Services is a Northern Territory based practice that has accepted every pro bono referral we have sent to them since the program’s inception – in total, over 30 referrals. Thank you so much to the Darwin Financial Services team for your ongoing support of the program.
We want to congratulate all eleven finalists for the award: Blueprint Wealth (WA), Bravien Financial (ACT), Maxima Financial Solutions (NSW), EJM Financial Services (VIC), Tanti Financial Services (NSW), Generation Financial (TAS), Hedges Asset Planning (SA), PFG Financial Services (TAS), Templetons (QLD), Rede Financial Services (WA) and Darwin Financial Services (NT). We are very grateful to all of you for the valuable pro bono work you do, as we are to all of our pro bono partners whose work helps to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.
We spoke with Andrew Moo, the Practice Principal, and Robyn Brain, the Business Development Manager, at Darwin Financial Services about their involvement with the Program:
How long has Darwin Financial Services been involved with the Pro Bono Program and why did you choose to get involved initially?
DFS has been a part of the Pro Bono program since early 2012 when the opportunity to support the Cancer Council first became available. It is a program very close to our hearts due to immediate families and clients who have been impacted and our ability to provide professional financial planning guidance is a responsibility we have as leaders in the business
What type of financial issues do you commonly help pro bono clients with?
The level of support and guidance we provide varies significantly. Initially we seek to ensure the patient has a clear understanding of their financial position and entitlements. We then need to ensure they have addressed their estate planning needs. Once considered, we then develop tailored financial plans which provide guidance to the patients and their families. These plans seek to remove some of the financial concerns and burden often being carried by clients as it builds a better understanding of their entitlements and options. Areas we commonly assist pro bono clients with include beneficiary nominations and early access to superannuation and/or insurance claims, debt management and Centrelink considerations.
What do you find most rewarding about your involvement in the Pro Bono Program?
The most rewarding part of the program is helping to put clients and their families minds at ease in relation to financial planning issues when they are facing overwhelming circumstances.
The case study below highlights the difference that financial advice can make to a client’s social and emotional wellbeing (names and details have been changed).
In January this year, Lucie was referred to the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program for financial planning assistance. Lucie had stopped work in June 2016 for treatment, and was receiving the Disability Support Pension from Centrelink (approximately $800 a fortnight).
Following surgery, Lucie needed to make some adjustments to her home. In addition, her reduced income meant that she was not able to cover the costs of her mortgage.
While Lucie had managed to postpone some of her mortgage repayments, her bank was becoming more and more insistent on resolving the arrears. While trying to focus on her treatment, Lucie was also feeling extremely overwhelmed by her financial situation and it was causing significant additional stress at an already difficult time.
Lucie contacted the Cancer Council 13 11 20 Information and Support Service and was referred to the Pro Bono Program. After confirming that she was eligible for pro bono assistance, our team was able to put her in touch with a financial planner in her area to talk through her situation.
The financial planner obtained authority to speak to the bank on her behalf, and negotiated an extension in their hardship provisions. This allowed Lucie to focus on her treatment while the adviser spent time on the necessary negotiations. The financial planner was then able to look into her superannuation and the default insurance policies attached. The financial planner was able to assist Lucie with the paperwork and supporting documents, which resulted in her being able to access her superannuation and her total and permanent disability insurance.
As a result, Lucie managed to repay her home loan and make the necessary adjustments to her home. The financial planner also assisted with putting arrangements in place to ensure that she could continue to receive the Disability Support Pension which assisted with meeting day to day expenses.
The financial planner managed to lighten the load for Lucie at a particularly difficult time. This allowed her to focus on her treatment and spend more time with her family and friends.
World Cancer Day
Held every year on February 4, World Cancer Day is a global event which aims to provide education and promote awareness about cancer. This year’s theme was “We Can. I Can” which aimed to empower both groups and individuals to take action against the disease.
The event adopted a special focus on sport and the many health benefits of physical activity in reducing the risk of cancer.
Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia and President of the Union for International Cancer Control, says that many Australians may not realise that one in three Australian cancer cases can be prevented.
“This year it is estimated that around 140,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer. However, approximately one third of those cases are caused by preventable lifestyle risk factors. Sporting events provide a great opportunity to bring people together and educate communities about cancer prevention and early detection, as well as show support for those directly affected.
“Regular physical activity is one of the most simple ways individuals can reduce their cancer risk and also helps encourage other healthy lifestyle habits, like maintaining a healthy weight and diet and not smoking. Increasingly evidence suggests exercise also has benefits for cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment.”
The Pro Bono team passionately supports this year’s theme of “We Can. I Can” as every day we continue to see the wonderful work of our referrers and volunteer professionals who work individually and together to provide meaningful assistance and reduce the burden of cancer.
Work and Cancer Webinar – “How do I manage difficult conversations at work?”
Clients can experience a realm of work related issues during their cancer journey, including needing to know their rights in relation to flexible working arrangements, whether they can take time off for treatment and how to return to work following a cancer diagnosis. In fact, recent studies have found that approximately 25 per cent of cancer survivors reported changes to their employment status and approximately one third were unemployed. Our wonderful HR professionals and employment lawyers assist clients with these issues.
Cancer Council invites you to join its next free webinar on 30 March 2017. Case Manager on the program, Sally Linwood will be part of this conversation and will talk about typical clients referred to the service with these issues. The webinar comes as Cancer Council recently released its updated Cancer, Work & You resource to help people understand how to manage working life after a cancer diagnosis.
To register for the webinar, click here.
Cancer Council’s updated Cancer, Work & You booklet is available for download at www.cancercouncil.com.au/publications/understanding-cancer-book or hard-copies can be ordered by calling Cancer Council on 13 11 20.
Have you joined our LinkedIn Volunteer Professionals Page?
If you volunteer your time to assist clients with legal, financial or workplace issues through the Pro Bono Program, we would love you to join our Cancer Council Pro Bono Program – Volunteer Professionals page on LinkedIn. It’s a great place to be kept up to date with Pro Bono Program news, articles and network with other professionals who volunteer their time for Cancer Council.
Join here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13505052
We would love to hear from you!
Keeping in mind client confidentiality, if you do have any feedback about your experience with the program or your clients would like to share their stories, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Pro Bono Case Manager or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We value your insights as we continually strive to improve the program and our clients’ experiences.
In particular, if any of our volunteer lawyers would like to share their stories and experiences working with pro bono clients we would be delighted to hear them (and perhaps to share them in the next edition of Pro Bono Press!).
Pro Bono in the news
Commonwealth Legal Service Expenditure Report 2015-16 shows 35% rise in pro bono (Australian Pro Bono Centre)
Many of us don’t even know we have life insurance (Sydney Morning Herald)
Work After Cancer (Cancer Australia Supporting people with cancer Grant Initiative, funded by the Australian Government)