Dialog Box

Rare Cancers Australia

Who is RCA?

Our Story

There is a simple story that describes the essence of Rare Cancers Australia. 

A boy and his father are walking along the beach. They are met with starfish strewn as far as the eye can see. The little boy picks one up and throws it back into the sea. 

“Don’t bother, son, there are too many, you can’t make a difference to them all,” says the father. 

The boy picks up another starfish, throws it into the sea and says, “I made a difference to that one.” 

This story perfectly illustrates RCA’s approach to patient support; an approach that originates from co-founder Kate Vines.

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Our Impact

We believe that no Australian should have to go through their cancer journey alone.

Over the last 10 years, the team at Rare Cancers Australia has worked to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with rare, less common and complex cancers – today and into the future.

Domains of practice

Patient Centred Navigation: What matters to you, matters to us.

Here are some examples of how we are making a difference.

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Our mission

Rare Cancers Australia’s mission is to improve the lives and health outcomes of all Australians living with rare, complex and less common cancers.

Our Strategic Goals to achieve our mission are: Patient Advocate, Meaningful Impact, A Trusted Voice, Outcome Oriented, Workplace Culture.

About our mission  Download the RCA Strategic Plan on a Page


Why rare cancer patients need our support

A cancer diagnosis can be abrupt, alarming and have a devastating impact on patients and their loved ones.

When patients are diagnosed, it is often accompanied by a plan. Their GP will give them information about their cancer and support services, send them for further testing, and write a referral to a specialist.  

But what if the cancer is so rare that standard treatment does not yet exist?

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What is a rare cancer?

In Australia, a rare cancer is defined as an incidence of less than six per 100,000 of the population, and a less common cancer is an incidence between six and twelve inclusive per 100,000 of the population.

While we have seen increases in incidence for common cancers, we have also seen dramatic reductions in mortality due to early diagnosis and improved treatments, but this has not been the case for rare and less common cancers where diagnosis remains slow, and treatment availability limited.

Find Out More Rare Cancers Awareness Day 


Meet the Team

Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) was founded in 2012 by Kate and Richard Vines. Over the past 9 years RCA has grown into a team of passionate, dedicated professionals focused on our mission to improve the lives of Australians affected by rare and less common cancers.

View Team  
Richard Vines

Chair, Director of International Programs

Christine Cockburn

CEO

Airlie Coates

Executive Assistant to CEO

Cathy Slattery

Head of Patient Programs

Jaime Macedo

Cancer Navigation Program Lead

Kirsten Sherry

Specialist Cancer Navigator

Tenaya Wright

Specialist Cancer Navigator

Natalie Clancy

Head of Fundraising

Nikki Kerr

Head of Partnerships

Sarah Benger

Head of Policy and
Public Affairs

Shawn Clackett

Senior Manager of Data,
Insights, and Policy

Florence Ao

Finance Officer

Sarah Clausen

Head of Operations

Alicia Moses

Project Administration Support

Alicia Ballesty

Head of Strategic Communications

James Mathews

Marketing Manager

Laura Cohalan

Communications Specialist

Lydia Willoughby

Pinnacle Program Coordinator

Eri Nishiuchi

Asia-Pacific Health Systems Analyst

Alexander Smith

IT Specialist

Kathie Griffiths

Online Project Officer and Administrator

Tamsin Farrugia

Rare Cancers PhD candidate (La Trobe University)


Board of directors

Meet the friendly faces behind Rare Cancers Australia and find out why we're all determined to make an impact.

Meet our team



Advocacy & Research

We can do better. We will do better.

Nobody is speaking for those diagnosed with a rare or less common cancer, there is no research funding, no funded treatments, nothing. It’s as though the system has decided that rare is just too hard.

National Oncology Alliance

The National Oncology Alliance (NOA) is a cancer advocacy initiative with more than 100 members in four pillars: patients, patient groups, clinicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

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Reports & Submissions

We are determined to increase awareness, highlight the need for further research and initiate policy discussion.

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Contact your local MP

We believe one of the best ways to get your voice heard by government is to let your local MP know what issues are facing people in their own electorate. As your representative, it is their job to listen. By working together, we can make a difference.

Find out how

Donate