Message from the CEO

Sandra Turner

As I write to you today and with colder weather looming, I’m reminded it was only a few months ago, in February, I was glued to the television each night watching the unravelling of COVID-19 in Europe where I have family and friends and was pleased to be living in my safe haven – Australia. We are very fortunate not to have been hit significantly here, especially in the ACT and we will hopefully see the economy begin to improve with the easing of some restrictions. Providing, of course, that people do not assume we are ‘back to normal’. Whilst we have had time to prepare, we are not yet out of the woods and it will be very easy for community transmission of COVID-19 to see us back where we were a few weeks ago, or worse. (read more)

One of my biggest concerns as we move back into an active community is for the safety of the more vulnerable; the elderly, those with a disability and/or chronic condition and including those affected by cancer. The simple rule of self-distancing and excellent general hygiene goes a long way to protect ourselves and others from catching COVID-19. But it is easy to assume all is ok. A recent weekend trip to the Fyshwick market reconfirmed my concerns; people standing in my (1.5m) personal space, ignoring the signs on shops for numbers of customers, and jumping queues because they “didn’t see” me waiting at a respectful distance at the cashier. How easy we forget.

It’s important to remember that although someone may ‘look healthy’, it isn’t necessarily so and they may be very susceptible to COVID-19 and other illnesses. Not everyone can self-isolate forever, there are times when we all have to go out from the safety of our homes to do things. A recent story in Her Canberra about one of our valued volunteers highlights this specifically – and especially as we celebrate National Volunteer Week. 

I’d like to acknowledge Cancer Council ACT’s Board of Directors during National Volunteer Week. Our directors are all volunteers and collectively bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our organisation. Especially in such troubling times as we are currently experiencing, it is comforting to have their ongoing commitment and support to assist us to work towards achieving our purpose.  

Whilst we continue to work from our homes, my team have continued to remain as active as possible, providing information and support to those affected by cancer, re-working prevention programs to run remotely and engaging with our extended community to encourage people to continue to support us in whatever way possible. Our fundraising team are working with hosts to ensure a successful Australia’s (virtual) Biggest Morning Tea. This year it’s a little different but you can still engage with family, friends and work colleagues – both online and socially distanced as the restrictions on gatherings are eased slightly in the coming weeks.

Maintaining engagement with our Cancer Council ACT community and the broader population has been our top priority in this current environment. With the restrictions because of self-isolation, it is more important than ever for us all to remain in touch with those we care for. If you have ten minutes today, reach out to someone you know who might be doing it tougher than you – for whatever reason. Make a cuppa. Give them a call. Brighten their day.

Keep healthy and safe.

Regards, Sandra.

Last updated May 2020.

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