Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) are non-government, not-for-profit primary health care services initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally responsive health care. ACCHS are incorporated, based in an Aboriginal community, and governed by a majority Aboriginal board which the local community elects.

Advance care planning

Advance care planning is the process where an individual decides and documents their preferences for their future health care. Advance care planning prepares individuals for a time when they may be unable to communicate important health care decisions.

Allied health

Allied health professionals are health professionals that are not part of the medical, dental or nursing professions. They are university qualified practitioners with specialised expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses. Allied health practitioners often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide specialised support for different patient needs.

Cancer care continuum

A person’s cancer experience and interactions with the health system, from prevention and early detection, initial presentation, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and/or end-of-life care.

Cancer care system

All parts of health and other systems relevant to cancer control including people, services and organisations that contribute to cancer control, along the continuum from prevention to survivorship and/or end-of-life care. Cancer care is delivered through both public and private health systems by government and non-government providers.

Cancer control

Cancer control aims to reduce the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of cancer and to improve the quality of life of cancer patients in a defined population, through the systematic implementation of evidence-based interventions for prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care.

Comprehensive cancer control addresses the whole population, while seeking to respond to the needs of the different subgroups at risk.

Cancer incidence rate

The number of new cases diagnosed each year per 100,000 population.

Care after initial treatment and recovery

Care after initial treatment and recovery is the fifth of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step describes the transition from active treatment to post-treatment or survivorship care. Depending on the stage of cancer, some people will need ongoing, hospital-based care, and in other cases a shared follow-up care arrangement with their general practitioner may be appropriate.


Co-design brings professionals and end-users together to design new services, resources, and policies. Applied to policy, this means enabling or empowering people affected by a policy issue to contribute to its solution.

Co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is fundamental to achieving change across the health system and to achieve better outcomes. Key Principles and Best Practices for co-design in health with First Nations Australians include First Nations leadership, Culturally grounded approach, Respect, Benefit to community, Inclusive partnerships and Transparency and evaluation.

Commercial determinants of health

Determinants of health are non-medical factors that positively or negatively influence health outcomes.

Commercial determinants of health are part of the wider determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Commercial determinants of health are defined as factors that influence health which stem from the profit motive. These determinants also encompass the strategies and approaches used to promote products and/or choices that are detrimental to an individual’s health.

There are four main ways that corporate influence is exerted: marketing and advertising, corporate political activities (i.e., lobbying), corporate social responsibility strategies, and supply chains. Consideration of the commercial determinants of health is critical to establishing effective approaches to preventive health, as individuals have limited control over their circumstances and what they are exposed to in their everyday life.

See also:

Cultural determinants of health

Environmental determinants of health

Social determinants of health


The occurrence of more than one disease or health condition in an individual at the same time.

Comprehensive cancer care

Comprehensive cancer care integrates cancer research, clinical trials, education and treatment, providing optimal care and support for people affected by cancer in all locations across the entire cancer continuum.


Consumer is used to refer to a person affected by cancer as a patient, survivor, carer, or family member; or a consumer organisation representing the views of consumers.

Cultural determinants of health

Determinants of health are non-medical factors that positively or negatively influence health outcomes.

Cultural determinants of health are part of the wider determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Cultural determinants of health include connection to Country; family, kinship and community; beliefs and knowledge; cultural expression and continuity; language; and self-determination and leadership.

See also:

Commercial determinants of health

Environmental determinants of health

Social determinants of health

Cultural safety

Cultural safety identifies that health consumers are safest when clinicians have considered power relations, cultural differences, and patients’ rights. Culturally safe practice is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practicing behaviours, and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible, and responsive healthcare free of racism. Cultural safety is defined not by the clinician but by the health consumer’s experience – the individual’s experience of the care they are given and their ability to access services and to raise concerns.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cultural safety is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families, and communities.

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

Individuals and communities who identify as having diverse languages, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, traditions, societal structures, and religions.

Cytotoxic therapies

A group of treatments containing chemicals that can destroy cancer cells or slow their growth. This includes, but is not limited to, chemotherapy.


Utilising analysis and interpretation of comprehensive data to inform strategic decision-making.

Diagnosis, staging and treatment planning

Diagnosis, staging and treatment planning is the third of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step outlines the process for confirming (or eliminating) a cancer diagnosis, stage of cancer and subsequent treatment plan. The guiding principle is that an appropriate multidisciplinary team should determine the treatment plan.

Digital health

Digital health is an umbrella term referring to a range of technologies that can be used to treat patients, and collect and share a person’s health information.

Digital health ecosystem

The network of health industry and technology components that influence each other’s operation, evolution and development while providing health care services.

Early detection

Early detection of cancer involves detecting symptomatic patients as early as possible or detecting cancers in asymptomatic patients using screening. Benefits of early detection include increased survival, increased treatment options, and improved quality of life.

Early detection is one of the seven steps in the Optimal Care Pathways.

End-of-life care

End-of-life care is the last of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step focuses on maintaining a patient’s quality of life and meeting their health and supportive care needs as they approach the end of life, as well as the needs of their family and carers.


The processes used to engage, involve and communicate with relevant stakeholders, consumers and advocates for a purpose to achieve an accepted outcome.

Environmental determinants of health

Determinants of health are non-medical factors that positively or negatively influence health outcomes.

Environmental determinants of health are part of the wider determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Environmental determinants of health include climate, extreme weather events, UV radiation, pollution, and other aspects of our natural and built environments.

See also:

Commercial determinants of health

Cultural determinants of health

Social determinants of health


Health equity means all Australians are supported by our national systems in the ways most suited to their cultural, socioeconomic, geographic, environmental, and personal situation to achieve the best possible cancer outcomes. The Australian Cancer Plan acknowledges that to achieve equity, some priority population groups need additional and targeted focus and support.

Evidence based

Integrating the best available current research in information, resources and decisions relating to diagnosis, patient care, and practice.

Genetic testing

A type of medical test that identifies differences in chromosomes, genes, or proteins within the human body. Genetic testing provides medical professionals with the capacity to confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.


Genomics is the study of genes and other genetic information, their functions, how they interact with each other and with the environment, and how certain diseases, such as cancer, form. This may lead to new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.

Health outcome

A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.

Health services

Services that provide health care, treatment, and support. This includes public, private, and non-government services.

Health workforce

The health workforce in Australia is large and diverse, covering many occupations. These include health practitioners registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency as well as other health professionals and health support workers.

Indigenous Data Sovereignty

The right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to govern the collection, ownership, and application of information and knowledge about Indigenous communities, peoples, lands, and resources.


The interconnected nature in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, socioeconomic group, and other forms of social categorisations ‘intersect’ to create unique and overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this is more than recognising the multiple backgrounds, experiences, and ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identify. It addresses the way membership of multiple groups may impact people’s health and wellbeing need and ability to access care.


LGBTIQA+ is an evolving acronym that is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual, and other sexually or gender diverse people.

Managing recurrent, residual or metastatic disease

Managing recurrent, residual, or metastatic disease is the sixth of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step recognises the likelihood of recurrence depends on many factors such as type of cancer, the stage of cancer at presentation, and the effectiveness of treatment. The management of cancer and cancer-related symptoms for patients who present with recurrent, residual or metastatic disease should be undertaken by a multidisciplinary team.

Metastatic disease

Also known as a secondary cancer. Metastatic disease is a cancer that has spread from another part of the body.

Modifiable lifestyle factors/modifiable risk factors

Elements of lifestyle which influence cancer risk and can be changed, including smoking, consumption of alcohol, nutrition, weight, and exposure to UV radiation.


The death rate or the number of deaths in a certain group of people in a certain period of time.

Multidisciplinary care

An integrated team approach to cancer care. Medical, nursing and allied health professionals involved in a patient’s treatment consider all treatment options and personal preferences of the patient, and collaboratively develop an individual care plan that best meets the needs of that patient.

National screening programs

A national cancer screening program aims to reduce illness and death from certain cancers by allowing for early detection, intervention and treatment.

There are currently three population-based cancer screening programs in Australia: BreastScreen Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, and the National Cervical Screening Program.


A branch of medicine that is focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Optimal Care Pathways

The Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) outline consistent, safe, high-quality, and evidence-based care for people with cancer. They aim to improve patient outcomes by promoting quality cancer care and ensuring that all people diagnosed with cancer receive the best care, irrespective of where they live or receive cancer treatment. There are cancer specific OCPs and population-specific OCPs.

Seven key principles underpin the guidance provided in the OCPs: patient-centred care, safe and quality care, multidisciplinary care, supportive care, care coordination, communication, and research and clinical trials. These principles remain central to the delivery of quality care throughout the cancer continuum and always put patients at the centre of care.

OCPs define seven steps in the cancer continuum. Each step outlines nationally agreed best practice to achieve high-quality cancer care:

  1. Prevention and early detection
  2. Presentation, initial investigations and referral
  3. Diagnosis, staging and treatment planning
  4. Treatment
  5. Care after initial treatment and recovery
  6. Managing recurrent, residual or metastatic disease
  7. End-of-life care.

Palliative care

Palliative care is person and family-centred care provided for a person with an active, progressive, advanced disease, who has little or no prospect of cure and who is expected to die, and for whom the primary goal is to optimise the quality of life. Prevention and relief of suffering is provided through early identification and assessment, and treatment of pain and other problems such as physical, psychosocial, and spiritual concerns.

Patient navigation

Patient navigation is an individualised, barrier-focused intervention that aims to facilitate timely access to health care services, diagnosis and treatment. It identifies and overcomes barriers to accessing care, and addresses disparities that lead to poorer cancer outcomes. Navigation occurs anywhere along the cancer care continuum and is delivered in a variety of modalities and settings.

Person-centred care

Person-centred care is widely recognised as a foundation to safe, high-quality health care. It is care that respects and responds to the preferences, needs and values of consumers. With this approach, the patient is actively involved in the planning and decision-making process when determining a healthcare plan, and an effective level of communication is maintained between the patient and all care providers throughout the duration of the process.

Personalised medicine

Personalised medicine (also known as precision medicine) uses the knowledge of genetics, including the specific links between genes and some diseases, and between genes and the effectiveness of some medicines or treatments, to predict disease development and to influence decisions about lifestyle choices or to tailor treatment to an individual.


Place-based approaches target the specific circumstances of a place and engage with local people for the development and implementation of programs, services or policies, that will have the greatest impact in identifying and responding to the unique needs of the local community. Place-based approaches are characterised by collaboration, partnership, co-design and shared accountability with community.

Presentation, initial investigations and referrals

Presentation, initial investigations and referrals is the second of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step outlines the process, usually commencing in the primary care setting, for initiating the correct investigations and referring the patient to the appropriate specialists, and the timeframes for this. The types of investigations undertaken at this stage will depend on many factors, including access to diagnostic tests, the availability of medical specialists and patient preferences.


Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of disease or ill health, including through health promotion activities. Prevention is the ability to modify certain cancer-causing risk factors to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.

Prevention and early detection is the first of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

Prevention and early detection

Prevention and early detection is the first of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step outlines actions to reduce or eliminate the causes and onset of cancer, including through health promotion activities. This step also highlights recommendations for early detection and screening.

Primary Health Networks

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) work directly with general practitioners, other primary health care providers, hospitals, and the broader community to increase the efficiency of medical services for patients, and improve coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place, at the right time.

Primary health care

Primary health care is usually the first contact an individual with a health concern has with the health system. Primary health care covers health care that is not related to a hospital visit, including health promotion, prevention, early intervention, treatment of acute conditions, and chronic condition management.

Primary health care services are delivered in settings such as general practices, community health centres, allied health practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and via technologies such as telehealth and video consultations. Primary health care professionals include general practitioners, nurses, nurse practitioners, allied health professionals, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.

Primary prevention activities

Health measures aimed at preventing the onset of disease or illness. Examples of primary prevention activities include immunisations, health education, public awareness campaigns, health promotion activities and anti-smoking legislation.

Cancer specific - Primary prevention of cancer attempts to limit the incidence of cancer by controlling specific causes and risk factors. These include lifestyle interventions and medical interventions such as nutritional advice, chemoprevention and vaccines.

Psychosocial support

Care including mental health counselling, education, spiritual support, group support, and other services. Services are usually provided by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counsellors, and specialised nurses.

Quality of life

An individual’s overall appraisal of their situation and subjective sense of wellbeing. Quality of life encompasses symptoms of disease and side effects of treatment, functional capacity, social interactions and relationships and occupational functioning. Key psychological aspects include subjective distress, satisfaction with treatment, existential issues, and the impact of illness and treatment on sexuality and body image.

Rare and less common cancers

A cancer is considered to be rare or less common if:

  • it is very unusual and seen in very few people
  • a person is much younger or older than people who are typically diagnosed with it
  • it affects children
  • it is a common cancer in an unexpected location
  • it started somewhere unexpected
  • it is usually diagnosed early but has been found at an advanced stage
  • it is a small sub-type of a common cancer.

Risk-stratified screening/risk-modified screening

A screening approach using a range of risk factors including age, family history, lifestyle, environment, and personal genomic risk information to tailor cancer screening advice to individuals. Individualised risk assessment based on risk factors may inform screening elements including screening interval, starting age, or modality of screening.


An organised program (using tests, examinations, or other procedures) to identify diseases such as cancer, or changes which may later develop into disease such as cancer, before symptoms appear.

Secondary prevention activities

Health measures aimed at detecting or treating a disease or illness at an early stage to reduce long-term severity. Examples of secondary prevention activities include screening tests, medication, dietary changes or modified physical activity.

  • Cancer specific - Secondary prevention strategies use screening and early detection programs in an attempt to identify cancer early in its development, to reduce the morbidity and mortality by improving the outcome of disease that has already developed.

Social determinants of health

Determinants of health are non-medical factors that positively or negatively influence health outcomes.

Social determinants of health are part of the wider determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Social determinants of health include family, housing, employment, working conditions, and social support and participation.

See also:

Commercial determinants of health

Cultural determinants of health

Environmental determinants of health

Social prescribing

Social prescribing is the practice where health professionals have the resources and infrastructure to link patients with social services or groups to address the social determinants contributing to poor health.


Any person, group, or organisation that has a vital interest in cancer care or services.


A strengths-based approach focuses on the unique strengths, capabilities and resources of people, places and communities, and looks for opportunities to capitalise on, complement and support existing strengths. Strengths-based approaches work in opposition to deficit-based discourse and approaches which focus on areas of problem or concern and can perpetuate negative stereotyping.

Supportive care

Supportive care in cancer is the prevention and management of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. This includes management of physical and psychological symptoms and side effects across the continuum of the cancer journey from diagnosis through treatment to post-treatment care. Supportive care includes rehabilitation, secondary cancer prevention, survivorship and end-of-life care.


Refers to the process of living with, through, and beyond cancer. By this definition, cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis. It includes people who continue to have treatment to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease and includes the longer-term impacts of cancer treatment on people affected by cancer.

Targeted cancer screening

Refers to screening specific groups of people who might be considered to be at higher risk. For example, screening people for cancer based on a strong family history or lung cancer screening for people with a higher risk of lung cancer due to smoking.

Translational research

The translation of innovative research into clinical practice.

Trauma-aware, healing-informed

Trauma-aware, healing-informed practice is a strengths-based approach to healing that is based on an understanding of, and responsiveness to, the impacts of trauma. It emphasises physical, psychological, and emotional safety for people seeking help and for the helpers. It also creates opportunities for people affected by trauma to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

It recognises the prevalence of trauma and is sensitive to and informed by the impacts of trauma on the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Experiences of trauma may affect a significant number of people in some priority population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Islander people, people living with mental health conditions, and culturally and linguistically diverse populations, particularly refugees.


Treatment is the fourth of seven steps of the cancer continuum as set out in the Optimal Care Pathways.

This step describes the use of tailored therapies and medical interventions for managing and treating specific cancer types. This step also outlines training experience and facilities required of treating clinicians and health services for the provision of optimal cancer care.

Voluntary assisted dying

Voluntary assisted dying (also known as VAD) refers to the assistance provided to a person by a health practitioner to end their life. ‘Voluntary’ indicates that the practice is a voluntary choice of the person, and that they are competent (have capacity) to decide to access voluntary assisted dying.

All Australian states have passed legislation concerning voluntary assisted dying. Information on voluntary assisted dying is available on state government websites.

‘omic’ technologies

Technologies primarily aimed at measuring and characterising biomolecules in cells and tissues. The detection of genes (genomics), mRNA (transcriptomics), proteins (proteomics), gene expression (epigenomics) and metabolites (metabolomics) may be used to improve health care and disease management through the development of biomarker-based screening, diagnostic, and monitoring systems as well as target treatment strategies.

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