Chinese Cancer and Chronic Illness Society of Victoria (CCCIS), formerly Chinese Cancer Society of Victoria (CCSV), was founded in 1996 as one of the Cancer Council Victoria’s support groups. The Society was founded by social worker, Dorothy Yiu OAM JP (current President), in response to a request from the Cancer Council Victoria to address an urgent need for culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Chinese people who have been touched by cancer. Over the years, more cancer survivors and volunteers joined the Society to offer support to others, and to bring back their strength, confidence and hope.
CCCIS has evolved from a small support group that conducted monthly peer meetings, to an extensive information and support service for people affected by cancer. The Society provides a raft of psycho-social interventions that help cancer sufferers and their carers cope and move on. With the generous support from Mr Joe K.H. Lai, a Malaysian Chinese businessman, CCCIS has settled into the existing property since 2005. Regular support group meetings, seminars and activities are held in the current home.
CCCIS remains an accredited support group of the Cancer Council Victoria and was awarded the Volunteer Group of the Year in December 2011. The Society also received a Meritorious Award in 2008 from the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
In January 2018, the Society changed its legal name to Chinese Cancer and Chronic Illness Society of Victoria with the aim to expand its services to support people from Chinese speaking backgrounds with other chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's, as well as cancer. A lack of understanding in mainstream hospitals and health services, as well as cultural differences in perceiving cancer and chronic illnesses such as mental illness and Parkinson’s can sometimes create barriers for Chinese patients who need to use mainstream services. The Society has come across cases where Chinese speaking chronic illness sufferers are reluctant to seek help due to language difficulties. Moreover, socio-cultural practices such as the need to “save face” in order to avoid being labelled as “people with problems”, or the stigma of being “a burden to others” have prevented people from seeking help. There are also instances of misconceptions about “being punished” for ones’ deeds – which create complex problems in the patient’s mind. Taking into account these cultural and language issues, pressures associated with some chronic illnesses such as cancer can become insurmountable.
Keeping these issues in mind, the Society is committed to providing user-friendly information and support services where chronic illness sufferers and their carers can support each other in an atmosphere where they can talk in their own language and share their experiences openly.
The Society has successfully established a much-needed support network to enhance the well-being of Chinese people, whose lives are impacted by cancer.
The Society will continue to develop and deliver more support services to meet the needs of the Chinese community in Victoria.
The Society was awarded “Volunteer Group of the year 2011” by the Cancer Council Victoria and was also a recipient of a meritorious award by the Victorian Multicultural Commission in 2006.
In 2014, Dorothy Yiu, the founder of CCCIS, received Cancer Council Victoria’s President’s Award and in 2016, awarded the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of her hard work.