Alumni Update | Issue Nine 2014

SA’s new Lieutenant Governor continues the fight against cancer


Brenda Wilson, Chief Executive of Cancer Council SA


University of South Australia MBA alumna and Chief Executive of Cancer Council SA, Professor Brenda Wilson, has been appointed as the first female Lieutenant Governor
of South Australia.

The role of Lieutenant Governor (LG) is a voluntary position where the incumbent acts as the Vice-Regal representative in the absence of the Governor. Professor Wilson says in addition to this role she will continue her important work at Cancer Council SA which she has headed up since 2003.
Professor Brenda Wilson
“The appointment highlights the priority the government places and will continue to place on cancer in this state and the research, prevention and support work undertaken by Cancer Council SA on behalf of our community,” Professor Wilson says.

“Apart from the constitutional requirements of the LG role, it provides an opportunity to increase the awareness of the work we do at Cancer Council SA and in the longer term I aim to work with other charities which seek to enhance the lives of the wider SA community”.

Professor Wilson originally trained as a nurse and specialised in cardiac and intensive care nursing. She later moved into executive positions in nursing and the health sector. She undertook a Bachelor of Business followed by an MBA at UniSA, which she completed in 1993. She currently serves on the UniSA MBA Advisory Board.

Professor Wilson was Executive Director of the Flinders Medical Centre from 1995 to 2003 before taking on the role of Chief Executive at Cancer Council SA. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the College of Nursing Australia and a Fellow of the Wharton School of Management. She was the winner of the year 2000 Telstra Business Women’s Award for the Corporate and Government sector.

Cancer Council SA is an independent non-government organisation with a broad remit covering cancer research and prevention as well as advocacy and support for people touched by cancer.

Professor Wilson is proud of the achievements her organisation has made in the past decade.

“At Cancer Council SA we worked with key stakeholders to lead the development the first state-wide Cancer Control Plan for SA, with the third iteration of this currently being developed; we worked with SA health to jointly fund ($4.4m) state of the art cancer registries in SA; with SA Health we funded the first joint investment ($20m) in cancer research — ‘the Beat Cancer Project’ – which is in its third year of funding, and worked with Government to ban solarium use in SA and to implement alfresco dining areas being smoke free,” she says.

In the future, as the population ages the incidence and deaths from cancer will increase.

“In my lifetime I would like to see:
  • Smoking rates down to at least 5%, halving death rates from tobacco related cancers.
  • A doubling of research investments for poor-survival cancers such as pancreatic, brain, lung, ovarian, head and neck, oesophageal, and liver.
  • Increased investment in all cancer research in terms of improved surgical techniques, radiotherapy and targeted drug therapies.
  • An increased investment in mass media campaigns, which would see a reduction of in deaths from melanoma and skin cancer.
  • A reduction in the risk of cancers associated with obesity, poor diet, inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption by creating an environment where a healthy choice is the easy choice.
  • An increase in the numbers of Australians who screen for bowel, cervical and breast cancers, with improved screening technologies for other cancers, enabling cancers to be detected and treated earlier with better outcomes.
  • A reduction in the incidence and mortality of cervical, anal and other HPV-related cancers by increasing the uptake in boys and girls of the human papilloma virus vaccine.
  • A reduction in deaths related to liver cancers through increased hepatitis vaccination rates and improved monitoring and support of people at high risk."
University of South Australia researchers in the Sansom Institute for Health Research are undertaking a diverse range of cancer research projects, some with the assistance of Cancer Council SA funding. The Centre for Cancer Biology, established in partnership with SA Pathology and now embarking on a significant cooperative partnership with the University of South Australia, is the largest concentration of fundamental cancer research in the state.

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