There is a misconception that in Australia, if you have a child with cancer, the healthcare system has all the resources available to support you and your family unconditionally throughout your child’s entire cancer journey. While it’s true that we have some of the highest standards of healthcare and survival rates from paediatric cancer in the world, it’s not true to say families receive the holistic support they need to manage the short and long-term impacts of their child’s cancer. There have been strides made by non-profits and the health sector in recent years, however, it is still very much an under-resourced area and families are not receiving all the support they need.
Redkite’s programs and services address families’ broader, more complex psychosocial needs which extend – largely unseen and unacknowledged – beyond the hospital walls. In 2020, as demand for Redkite’s services reached unprecedented levels, we sought to identify and quantify the extent to which families’ support needs along the entire length of their cancer experience were not being met. From diagnosis to treatment and after treatment, paediatric cancer is a complex trauma where few family members are left unscathed, and this trauma can have a ripple effect across the entire community. We needed to understand the scale of the problem, identify who was missing out, when, and what kind of support they needed.
Redkite’s family needs survey set out to reveal and quantify the gaps in support for families facing childhood cancer throughout their cancer experience. In total, 713 parents and carers of a child (aged 0-18 years) diagnosed with cancer between 2010 and 2020 responded to the survey.