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February 2008

Award for Peter Mac legal services

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(Back) Baker and McKenzie Partner Kenneth Gray, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Social Work Department’s Alison Hocking, Chief Executive Officer Craig Bennett, Corporate Relationship Manager Jemimah Pentland (front) Peter Mac Social Work Department’s Hamlata Bhana and Elizabeth Ballinger (Department Head) and Baker and McKenzie Associate Vanya Kumar with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards award.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has received an Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) award for its world-first Cancer Patients’ Legal Assistance Program conducted in collaboration with law firm Baker and McKenzie.

The annual ACHS Quality Improvement Awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in activities, programs, projects and strategies in health care organisations.

Peter Mac was recognised in the non-clinical service delivery category.

Pro bono lawyers for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, Baker and McKenzie in 2006 established a service for patients who needed expert legal assistance falling outside the purview of Legal Aid but were not financially able to employ professional services.

The service includes early access to superannuation, Powers of Attorney, insurance claims and unfair dismissal cases.

Gaye Barnwall, 52, who gained early access to her superannuation through the service, expressed her gratitude to Baker and McKenzie lawyers and Peter Mac’s social work team for alleviating the significant anxiety she experienced in trying to deal with her legal matters.

‘Being diagnosed with cancer of the larynx on top of my existing multiple sclerosis was devastating,’ Mrs Barnwall said.

‘My husband had to take so much time off work to care for me and the financial pressure was enormous.

‘We didn’t have the energy to take on a fight for access to the superannuation we needed so much.

‘The patient legal service stepped in and had it sorted out for me in no time.

‘Having the extra funds available to help relieved a huge burden,’ Mrs Barnwall said.

Chief Executive Officer Craig Bennett saw the Peter Mac was very proud of its highly innovative and acclaimed program.

‘The 68 people that benefited from free legal support in the first 12 months of

the program have experienced great relief from the normal stress and worry associated with a cancer journey,’ he said.

The ACHS is Australia’s leading health care accreditation agency and is recognised by the International Society for Quality in Health Care for both its standards and accreditation program.

More than 1,000 individual hospitals and health care organisations across Australia are members of ACHS quality improvement programs.


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State Government Victoria

Updated 6 February 2008

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