ADJOURNMENT;Cancer Council – 29 Oct 2012

Tonight I rise to speak about the Cancer Council and the worthy work it does in providing support to cancer patients and their families. The Cancer Council plays a very important role in educating the wider community about cancer, including the different types, the causes and the treatments as well as what can be done to help prevent it. They also continue to conduct research so that we can learn more about cancer in the hope that the rate of cancer diagnosis continues to decrease and survival rates increase. We would all be pleased to have a cancer free world, and I believe that we can one day achieve that.

I would like to share some statistics about cancer. It is estimated that 121,500 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020. One in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Each year in Australia 17,500 women are diagnosed with breast and gynaecological cancers. Cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia, with more than 43,000 people estimated to have died from cancer in 2010.

Nearly 15,000 more people die each year from cancer now than 30 years ago. This statistic is due mainly to population growth and ageing. However, the death rate, or number of deaths per 100,000 people, has fallen by 16 per cent. More than 60 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia will survive more than five years after diagnosis. The survival rate for many common cancers has increased by 30 per cent in the past two decades. The most common cancers in Australia, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, are prostate, colorectal or bowel, breast, melanoma and lung cancer. Around 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers each year, with 448 people dying in 2007.

Cancer costs more than $3.8 billion in direct health system costs, which represents 7.2 per cent of Australia’s health costs. Australia spent $378 million on cancer research in 2000-01. This figure accounted for 22 per cent of all health research expenditure in Australia.

As a cancer survivor myself, I know exactly how important the work of the Cancer Council is, and it is for this reason that I am very keen to support the organisation whenever I get the opportunity. I have held a number of fundraisers for the Cancer Council in my office and have also hosted a team in the Huon Valley Relay for Life event over the last couple of years. I have registered and am hosting a team at the Hobart Domain in 2013, as the Huonville event is now going to be held only every two years.

Last month I hosted a Girl’s Night In fundraiser in my office. Girl’s Night In promotes awareness about women’s cancers and raises much needed funds. For my Girl’s Night In I invited family, friends, colleagues, some members of the local business community and, of course, representatives of the Cancer Council. To make the night as successful as possible in both fun and fundraising I invited a couple of retailers to display and sell their products. There was a Laura Benini shoe display and a PartyLite collection, and my office certainly looked different with all the shoes and candles spread out.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and/or made a donation to this worthy cause. A special thanks must go to Gayle Farr and Lynne Heath for the Laura Benini and PartyLite displays. Gayle and Lynne not only set up wonderful displays for the guests to look at but also agreed to donate a percentage of their proceeds from any sales made on the night to the Cancer Council. Lynne also donated a lovely raffle prize.

I would also like to thank Lyndall Jolly who, although unable to attend on the night, donated a Mary Kay pack for the raffle. My parliamentary colleagues Senator Carol Brown, Senator Lin Thorp and Julie Collins, the federal member for Franklin, were unable to join us on the night but they still made generous donations in support of this great cause, and I thank them for that. It was wonderful to have Denise Rodrigues from the Cancer Council with us on the night. From the entry fee, sale of raffle tickets and the donations, we raised over $850 which was a great effort by everyone involved and it was wonderful to have so many people attend. And of course I am pleased to note that my colleague and good friend Brendan O’Connor, the member for Gorton, is holding a Girls’ Night In at Parliament House tomorrow night, so I hope that goes well.

I would like to finish by talking about what the money is used for. At $10 per book, the money can be used to produce 80 cancer information books, or $45 can be used to pay for Cancer Council helpline calls to support and reassure women following their diagnosis. A night’s accommodation for people who have to be away from home while having treatment can be covered with about $100, while $500 can go towards funding a research grant into ovarian cancer. The Cancer Council really does make a difference to so many lives, and I congratulate everyone involved for the work they do. I would also like to thank my staff for their great effort in decorating the office and coordinating our Girls’ Night In event.

In closing I would like to mention National Bandanna Day which was held on 26 October. National Bandana Day raises money for CanTeen. This is an organisation especially devoted to people between the ages of 12 and 24 who are living with cancer. The organisation was founded in 1985 when a group of young cancer patients joined together to discuss the impact of cancer on adolescents. They felt that there was no organisation that could offer them the support they needed during their cancer battle. A group of health professionals agreed that young people needed a support system that was appropriate to their age group and CanTeen was the result.

CanTeen provides cancer patients and their siblings support as they live with cancer. It also supports people who have parents with cancer. Importantly CanTeen also provides support to people who have lost a loved one. It is really great to see so many people supporting CanTeen in the inventive ways bandannas are worn. My office is situated in a shopping centre, and I noticed a number of adults and children wearing bandannas both on their heads and around their necks. I saw a baby with one tied to the pram and a dog with one as well. I thought it was great that people were getting into the spirit of this day.

I urge everyone to support the Cancer Council, CanTeen or other similar organisations in any way they can. Whether it is by making a financial donation or volunteering to help out at an organisation, your contribution is certainly appreciated by those relying on the services and the support provided. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people to be vigilant about their health. Lead a healthy and active lifestyle, know your family history and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Prevention is better than cure and early detection is vital in order to give yourself the best chances of making a full recovery. I look forward to continuing my association with and support of the Cancer Council, especially the Cancer Council Tasmania.

Senate adjourned at 22:25