Investigations into a possible cancer cluster on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria

Cancer Chemical control Public health Victoria

In December 2018, reports of a possible cancer cluster on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria came to light through an article in The Age newspaper, which reported that a number of young people in the Bellarine area had recently died of cancer, many from blood-related cancers.

In January 2019, the Victorian Chief Health Officer (CHO) undertook an investigation into a possible cancer cluster on the Bellarine Peninsula. The CHO’s review found no evidence of a cancer cluster. Despite this conclusion, some residents of the Bellarine Peninsula continued to raise concerns about the possibility of a cancer cluster, as well as perceived higher rates of auto-immune disease in the area.

It is in this context that the Senate Community Affairs References Committee embarked on this inquiry, seeking to listen to the community’s concerns and to explore the extent and appropriateness of the investigations to date. In doing so, the committee has engaged with the community, with local and state authorities, and with medical and chemicals experts.

Report structure:

  • Chapter 1 provides background information about cancer clusters, the Bellarine Peninsula and the conduct of the inquiry.
  • Chapter 2 explores the health concerns and possible causes raised by the Bellarine Peninsula community.
  • Chapter 3 examines the investigations to date into the possibility of a cancer cluster on the Bellarine Peninsula.
  • Chapter 4 discusses the use of chemical insecticides on the Bellarine Peninsula for mosquito control.
  • Chapter 5 discusses issues raised by inquiry participants about chemical insecticides and disease causation. It also considers whether any further epidemiological or exposure studies would be beneficial.
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