Bowel Cancer Australia is represented on the Australian Government's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Advisory Group and Communications Working Group, focusing on the roll out of the Program and the development of a national communications framework.
In 2006, the then Minister for Health, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, announced funding for Bowel Cancer Australia to roll-out the first ever national bowel cancer screening campaign, It's Crunch Time™, which promoted participation by eligible Australians in Phase I and II of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
The It's Crunch Time™ campaign featured cricket legend Max Walker AM.
In the 2014 Federal Budget, the Abbott Government announced an additional $95.9 million over four year to accelerate implementation of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to all Australians aged 50 to 74 years by 2020.
This will ensure the Program will become consistent with the National Health and Medical Research Council clinical practice guidelines, which recommend screening every 1 to 2 years from age 50.
People aged 50, 55, 60 and 65 are currently being invited to screen, with other age groups being added as follows -
- 2015 - people turning 70 and 74 years
- 2016 - people turning 72 and 64 years
- 2017 - people turning 68, 58 and 64 years
- 2018 - people turning 66 ans 62 years; and
- 2019 - people turning 56 and 52 years.
It is estimated that when fully rolled out, approximately four million eligible Australians will be invited each year.
Elissa's mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010. This was the start of a journey for Elissa's family that she would not wish upon anyone. Having someone you love diagnosed with any form of cancer is a shock, but what further compounded the news was that bowel cancer is essentially a preventable disease if detected early.
Bowel cancer will affect around 1 in 12 Australians in their lifetime.
Research has shown that survival rates increase significantly when bowel cancer is detected and treated early. In the 2008 National Bowel Cancer Screening Program Monitoring Report, the majority (58%) of confirmed cancers were in the earliest stage. Despite this, in December 2010 the Federal Government allowed this lifesaving Program to lapse. At the time, the Program provided free one-off screening for people turning 50, 55 or 65.
Australia was without the Program for over 100 days. The then Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, recognised the benefits of screening, stating that ‘early screening for bowel cancer has the potential to prevent as many as 2,000 deaths every year’1 and that ‘the rolled gold clinical standard would be to commence screening at 50 and to do that every two years thereafter’.2
With the support of Bowel Cancer Australia, Elissa undertook to organise the collection of signatures for a petition calling on the House of Representatives to do all in its power to ensure the implementation of a comprehensive National Bowel Cancer Screening Program - screening at least every two years for people aged 50 and over, together with a public awareness campaign informing people of the purpose and relevance of screening for this preventable disease.
Elissa knows first-hand the impact a bowel cancer diagnosis has on a family and is passionate about making a difference by ensuring the NBCSP continues.
Over 5,000 signatures were collected within six weeks and the Petition was presented to the the Opposition Health Minister, Peter Dutton MP and it was subsequently tabled in the House of Representatives.
Bowel Cancer Australia representatives were invited to appear before the Petitions Committee at a public meeting in 2013 to discuss the petition and the then Minister for Health and Ageing's response.
 The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health & Ageing, Media Release, 8 May 2008.
 Hansard, House of Representatives, 22 November 2010 page 3173.