The Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association has chosen a national cancer research organisation as its 2024 charity.
The organisation, Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials, Melbourne, has been working with retired Kyneton, Victoria, stock agent, John Robson, after he was diagnosed with skin cancer in January, 2021.
ALPA chief executive Peter Baldwin said the organisation's board felt the topic "resonated very strongly with our membership and their families.
"There wouldn't be a person within our organisation who hasn't been touched by an incidence of skin cancer - hopefully not melanoma, but certainly we are all exposed to the sun," he said.
"Given Australia's standing, worldwide, in terms of exposure to skin cancer this is just a laudable, positive thing we can do as an association to advance a cure."
Melanoma of the skin is the country's third most diagnosed cancer, with more than 17,000 cases diagnosed each year.
A spokesman for Melanoma and Skin Cancer trials, a federal government body, said it worked with world-leading researchers to deliver outcomes that improved melanoma and skin cancer outcomes.
It was the only independent, not-for-profit, multi-site, collaborative clinical trials group focused on melanoma and skin cancer in Australia and New Zealand, the spokesman said.
"The trials portfolio covers the prevention, early detection and treatment of melanoma and skin cancer, including early to late phase clinical trials," he said.
MASC trials board chair, Professor Mark Shackleton welcomed the financial support from ALPA, saying it would also raise awareness among a section of the community that was underrepresented in getting skin checks.
"They are also overrepresented in terms of the risks of skin cancer, which are known to be higher in people in regional areas and particularly people who work outside a lot," Prof Shackleton said.
"Often the two go together - so it's a great synergy between ALPA and MASC trials."
He said it was extremely important to have support from ALPA.
"In truth, the amount of money that is provided by the government - it's wonderful that we have any, is actually very minimal, and it really doesn't allow us to do anything except provide a small core operational team to support researchers around the country," he said.
"Extra support, for example by this partnership, is really going to empower the group to support doctors and researchers across the country to find the best possible trials for new therapies and approaches to treating skin cancer."
Prof Shackleton said supporting a group like MASC was a "no-brainer - they are practically the most common cancers, by a mile, in the Australian community."
The funding also encouraged pharmaceutical companies develop new treatments, he said.
"If companies developing new treatments for skin cancer know that Australia is a vibrant, dynamic, research-oriented country - which has great infrastructure to support trials - they are far more likely to invest," he said.
It also gave patients access to new therapies, sometimes years before they were released generally.
Mr Baldwin said ALPA had three charity auctions, at its Young Auctioneers dinners, with the first in March, in Sydney, NSW, followed by events at the Ekka, Brisbane, Queensland, and then Melbourne.
Mr Baldwin said apart from raising funds, the choice of charity would also raise awareness of skin cancer.
"We've always believed stock and station agents have a terrific, 'can-do' attitude - conducting of trials is a positive, outcome-driven process - and that's what we love," he said.
"We love a challenge, and a trial is a challenge."
He said it was a national charity - "it's a national approach to a national problem.
"We know the money is going to go directly towards this research," he said.
Meanwhile, Yea and District Memorial Hospital and Murrindindi shire council ran the second of their free farmer health checks, focussing on blood pressure, diabetes and skin cancer, at the Elders Blue Ribbon weaner sale at the town's saleyards, last Friday.
The hospital will be running other health checks, including eye and hearing tests, at upcoming store sales, through the next few months.
For further information about MASC, or to donate directly, go to https://www.masc.org.au.