Achieving Equity

Health equity in cancer outcomes is the absence of disparities for people with different levels of social advantage.[17]

Significant disparities in cancer outcomes exist between specific population groups within Australia.[1] Disparities are strongly associated with the determinants of health, encompassing cultural, social, commercial, environmental, economic, and structural determinants. These include ethnicity, language, education, age, gender, mental health, disability, health literacy, sexual orientation, location, socioeconomic group, commercial influences, climate, and characteristics linked to discrimination or exposure to cancer risk factors.[12][13][18]

Achieving equity requires action to empower health services, systems and communities to recognise and respond to social, cultural, commercial, and environmental determinants of health that impact access to care.[17] To deliver nationally equitable outcomes in cancer control, Australia's health systems must provide tailored, appropriate, and adequately resourced services to all Australians in need—when, where, and how they need them.


To embed an equity lens across the Australian Cancer Plan (the Plan), Cancer Australia developed a Framework for Health Equity in Cancer Outcomes (Equity Framework) which focuses on:

  • engaging and empowering population groups
  • tailoring and co-designing health programs, services, systems, and strategies to accommodate needs
  • integrating and enhancing the experience of consumers including their carers and families across the care continuum.

The application of the Equity Framework positions the Plan to provide all Australians with the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives.

The Plan acknowledges the health system needs of all Australians, regardless of who they are and where they live, including people in the justice system. Addressing these needs is a whole-of-system effort and requires collaboration across jurisdictions.

Achieving Equity in Cancer Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an integral Strategic Objective of the Plan. The Plan recognises and embraces the strengths and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

The Plan supports and aligns with the four priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap [8] (CtG Agreement) to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments to work together, to overcome the inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can achieve life outcomes equal to all Australians.

The Plan considers an intersectional and health equity approach for all priority population groups. This is more than recognising the multiple backgrounds, experiences, and ways people identify. It acknowledges that membership of multiple priority population groups compounds complexity and disparity in accessing equitable and appropriate care.

Supported by the Framework for Health Equity in Cancer Outcomes (Figure 1), the Plan addresses the needs voiced by stakeholders and is supported by evidence for these diverse populations.

Figure 1: Australian Cancer Plan Framework for Health Equity in Cancer Outcomes

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