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Supporting students, staff and families

When anyone in a school community is diagnosed with cancer, people usually want to help but may not be sure where to start.

Cancer in the school community is a guide for staff members who would like to support students, families and colleagues affected by cancer.  Download the PDF here:

It’s important to remember that each cancer journey is different, and every individual navigates it in their own way. Some people want to deal with cancer privately, others welcome all support. Some want to talk about it, others just want to blend in.

How people feel about the involvement of the school community may change at different stages of the journey.

The content is relevant for all primary and secondary school staff members throughout Australia. It may also be useful for parents, students and family members.


You can download the whole guide or individual chapters that are relevant to you.

Information about cancer (PDF)

  • Introduction to cancer
  • Treatments and side effects
  • Who gets cancer
  • Common young people’s cancers

Talking about cancer (PDF)

  • Respecting privacy
  • Appointing a liaison person
  • Cultural differences
  • Communicating with all ages
  • Different views of cancer

When a student has cancer (PDF)

  • Supporting a student through all stages of the cancer
  • Returning to school after treatment
  • Practical changes
  • Learning impacts
  • Helping classmates understand

When a family member has cancer (PDF)

  • How the cancer diagnosis of a parent, sibling or other family member can affect a student
  • How your school can support the student and their family

When a staff member has cancer (PDF)

  • How cancer may impact a staff member’s life
  • How a school can provide support at any stage of the disease
  • Helping staff return to work | the role of the principal

The bereaved school community (PDF)

  • Ways to prepare for death
  • Helping people who are bereaved
  • Students’ understanding of death
  • Planning a school memorial service

Finding further support (PDF)

  • Contact details for Cancer Council
  • Contact details for other support organisations
  • Education contacts
  • Fundraising contacts

Our 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support Line can provide anyone affected by cancer with confidential, accurate information and support on any cancer-related concerns. Our cancer nurses can also inform you of services and programs.

If you prefer, you can email us on or complete the form below and one of our 13 11 20 team members will respond to your enquiry.

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