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Hewison Private Wealth - Insights
Hewison Insights

Giving back through advice. Our partnership with The Cancer Council.

Stephanie Patrick
Wealth Adviser
17 Jul 2023

Cancer is a disease that most of us will be affected by in some way – whether being diagnosed personally, or with friends or family members being directly impacted. Fortunately, I have several friends who have survived cancer and are in remission following successful treatment, but I have also sadly lost two grandparents to cancer. Watching a loved one go through treatment can be a long, emotional process and the journey can leave you feeling helpless, particularly when you don’t have the training or the expertise to assist.

Treatment can also be an expensive process. In a report prepared by Access Economics for Cancer Council, the estimated average cost of cancer diagnosis is around $50,000. The true treatment cost however is likely understated – while the above factors in medical costs, it does not consider the loss of employment earnings that a patient may face, or the reduced income of a loved one if they choose to reduce their own work to provide care. These costs can significantly add up, particularly for those who may not be adequately insured.

Four years ago, an industry colleague of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a close family member had a cancer scare. This prompted me to want to do something proactively to help and I started working with the Cancer Council on a pro-bono basis, providing free financial advice services to cancer patients who were also in significant financial stress.

This is a cause that Hewison has chosen to support and bolster since I joined just over 12 months ago, and forms part of our value of ‘Family’ and our focus on Community. It has almost been one year since we formalized our pro-bono advice agreement with the Cancer Council, so we felt it was timely to share this work with you.

Under the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono program, people affected by cancer can be connected to legal, financial planning, accounting, human resources, and recruitment professionals who provide their services on a cost-free basis. The provision of these services aims to contribute to the well-being of people affected by cancer by reducing stress and financial burden. This service is means tested by the Cancer Council and our service is free for people who cannot afford the cost of advice.

The advice we provide generally focuses on daily expense management, accessing superannuation and insurance benefits, managing lump sum payments, debt management, Centrelink eligibility, retirement planning and estate planning.

So far, our advisers have assisted six pro-bono cancer patients.

Resulting in two successful insurance claim payments (including a terminal illness claim through superannuation) and significant time has been spent providing financial coaching and advice – including support on understanding Centrelink eligibility, expense management and debt assistance.

Insurance claims assistance provides substantial support, as patients often do not have the cognitive capacity while under treatment to complete extensive, complex paperwork. Over the past year, I have visited a palliative care ward at Peter Mac to assist a patient with her terminal illness claim, and we have also had pro bono patients visit our St Kilda Road office to receive assistance and complete paperwork.

It is great to be part of a program that genuinely helps people during an extremely difficult time, and we look forward to continuing to give back to the Community over time through these initiatives.