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Our history

Cancer Council Victoria is a leading not-for-profit organisation which is committed to preventing and reducing the devastating impact of cancer on our community. Over the course of our history, we have become a leading global cancer organisation through our innovative work in cancer research, prevention, and empowerment.  

The Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, as we were known as for the first 66 years of our existence, was formed in 1936. Resources were poured into research with the hope of discovering the cause and cure for cancer. Continuing to foster research and patient care, we launched two prominent campaigns: Quit and SunSmart. The 1960s’ “Campaign Against Smoking” is now our longest-running and most effective campaign, and SunSmart during the 1980s has increasingly influenced the way we think about the sun and our skin. These will remain some of our most important contributions to Australian culture.  

Cancer Council’s impact has continued to grow in the 21 st C entury. We have drastically changed the perception of cigarettes, encouraged the use of sunscreen, increased awareness about the necessity of cancer screening and aided countries around us in law and cancer. We now tackle the concerning popularity of vaping.  

Key areas of history


From founding a cancer registry in 1940 to over $25 million in grants per year today, funding research is our one of our largest contributions to cancer control Read more


Our efforts to stop cancer before it starts are some of our most visible efforts, including promoting tobacco control, sun and UV awareness, healthier food, and reduced alcohol consumption Read more


Our commitment to diagnosing cancer as early as possible began at our founding and has always been central to our mission Read more


Caring for cancer patients and their loved ones in Victoria for nearly 90 years Read more

History in the present: How the past shapes us today


Cancer Council Victoria launched the “In Your Hands” cervical screening campaign this month

Monday 20 May 2024
It continues a decades-long effort to improve the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer in Victoria and maintains our vision of cervical cancer being eliminated in this state by as early as 2030, through HPV vaccination, screening, and treatment. Read more

More modern history

Our most recent update

A whole new historical experience

We've rebuilt the 'Our history' section to better reflect the 88 year history of Cancer Council of Victoria.

What else has changed

We want you to know how our history has been growing and changing. Come understand what's been updated on the website.

See the full update history


Need the previous version of our history?

Find the previous history here
Links and Downloads
Link Summary Format Size
A history of the Cancer Council from 1936 to 1996
.pdf 278 Kb
A companion to Fighting Cancer
.pdf 720 Kb
An account of the 'witness seminar' held in late 2005
.pdf 488 Kb