VALE Sally Crossing 1946 -2016

The passing of Sally Crossing in December 2016 leaves a large space in the health consumer movement in Australia.

Sally was a fierce and very successful advocate of the health consumer representative movement and will be dearly missed.

She was a remarkable woman who has left a lasting legacy. Sally made a great contribution to Consumers Health Forum of Australia in its role as the national peak health consumer advocacy organisation.

 She was a great supporter of the work and influence of CHF in the national health arena. Sally served on the CHF Governing Committee (now Board) from 2002 to 2009 and was Chair in 2008.  Her participation at board level had a lasting influence on the direction CHF has taken and continues today in its advocacy leadership role.

Despite the continuing shadow of cancer over more than 20 years, Sally remained a highly engaged and effective advocate.  She was still active in areas including consumer medicine information labelling issues until days before her passing. 

Sally Crossing was born in Melbourne in 1946. After spending some time in England, the family moved to Sydney when Sally was 8. After marrying Peter Crossing (Sally was born a Fletcher), they settled in Australia, working and raising two children.

A brave and outstanding consumer health advocate, Sally was the founder of the Breast Cancer Action Group. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. She was again diagnosed with cancer in 2004/2005, and this time it was metastatic.

In 1997, she left her paid career and established Breast Cancer Action Group New South Wales, modelled on the Victoria equivalent established in 1994. After consulting women who had, or were, experiencing breast cancer, the group researched and compiled a directory of specialist services which was received with enormous enthusiasm.

In 2000, she led the establishment of the Cancer Voices movement in Australia and chaired Cancer Voices NSW until her death. She was Convenor of Cancer Voices Australia and the Australian Cancer Consumer Network, the latter established in 2014.

Sally also served on the board of the Cancer Council NSW.   In 2005 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, AM, for services to the community through health consumer advocacy. She worked in voluntary leadership positions until her death.

Sally’s involvement and lobbying of NSW Health in 2010 was pivotal to establishing Health Consumers NSW.

She served as consumer representative on many senior state and national level committees, working parties  and research projects,  firstly in the area of breast cancer, then broadened to cancer in general and generic health.

Her interests ranged from strengthening consumer participation in health decision-making and research, to improving access to cancer drugs and services and clinical trials.

Her writings were also prodigious, including 21 peer-reviewed papers, and books including:  Directory of Breast Cancer Specialists for NSW Women, 2002 and 2006, ISBN 1 – 74080-022-2; Breast Cancer Action Group NSW: Ten years 1997-2007, ISBN 978-0-646-48431-0; A Decade of Success: Cancer Voices NSW 2000-2010:  ISBN 978-0-646-55881-3

In 2014 she was appointed to the Board of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, and to the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council.  In that year she was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Sydney University’s Faculty of Health Sciences for her advocacy on behalf of consumers living with cancer.

Sally Crossing, AM (1946-2016) died of cancer on 28 December 2016. She died peacefully, surrounded by her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this sad time. She leaves behind her husband Peter and two grown-up children.

Tony Lawson is chair of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.



Thanks go to Health Consumers NSW who published a testimonial to Sally Crossing on Wednesday 11 January 2017 and which has been largely replicated here.

Sally Crossing; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elix, Jane, 'Sally Crossing', in Jane Elix’s Blog, 24 October 2011,

'Crossing, Sally', The Australian Women's Register, National Foundation for Australian Women,



About the author

Tony Lawson

Tony Lawson is Chair of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. He has been involved at the highest levels in consumer health for over a decade and continues to strive to provide decisive and strategic leadership to CHF representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers.