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Monday, 25 October 2010
Page: 1255


Mrs MOYLAN (11:43 AM) —I appreciate the member for Shortland bringing this motion on breast cancer before the House on this occasion, Pink Ribbon Day. A year after I was elected to parliament, in 1993, I had the opportunity to speak to a motion on breast cancer brought to this House by the then member for Cowan, Richard Evans. In preparing to speak to that motion and in researching, I was truly shocked to see how little attention had been paid to breast cancer research and how little funding it attracted compared to other areas of research. Following that speech, I had such an overwhelming reaction from the public, when women, husbands and fathers phoned to say, ‘We agree that there should be more funding for research and better support for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.’ They wanted to help and asked what they could do. It got me thinking about how we could progress this matter. I went back to my office and designed the ‘Beat Breast Cancer: Lobby for Life!’ kit. It included facts about breast cancer—some of those facts we have already heard today—a letter from the then Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson; contact details of every member of parliament, state and federal; and a copy of the petition form. Many members and senators held signing sessions in their local shopping centres.

I want to acknowledge the great support in those days of many in this House and in the Senate—those who assisted to refine the kits and help get them out into the community. I particularly acknowledge then Senator Kay Patterson and then Senator Jocelyn Newman. I also acknowledge Mrs Gina Rinehart, who generously contributed to fighting breast cancer and supported the cost of getting those kits out into the community. Carolyn Hewson, then wife of John Hewson, travelled with John to many parts of the country to launch the kits and give them a much higher profile than they might otherwise have had. The action resulted in a petition, with 100,000 signatures, being delivered on the steps of Parliament House to then Prime Minister Paul Keating and then Minister for Human Services and Health, Carmen Lawrence. For me as a new chum it was a great lesson in the power of people and in how public engagement in an issue can mobilise governments. It also attracted criticism. Nevertheless, for the women who were diagnosed, it was wonderful to know that more would be done to support research and to establish the National Breast Cancer Foundation. During that time, women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families began sharing their stories on national television, in national papers and magazines. Some of those women were incredibly brave as they fought their own battle and as some of them, sadly, lost that battle. As a result, though, of this successful public campaign we saw more money go into research and we saw the establishment of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The Breast Cancer Foundation website tells us that, since it was established in 1994 to promote and support breast cancer research in all its forms, it has allocated $55 million to over 230 breast cancer research projects. The good news is that we have seen the death rate from breast cancer fall. It has been very important in helping women ensure they have regular check-ups, ensuring early detection and the best possible treatment.

Having had breast cancer myself in 2007, I would like to say how much I appreciate the work that is being done. All over Australia, not just in Western Australia at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where I had my treatment, the doctors and the specialists working in the field are wonderful but, importantly, the nurses and the staff in these centres that have been established all over the country are absolutely wonderful, supportive, helpful and attentive.

I would also like to join with the member for Murray in expressing concern about the treatment of women in rural areas. There still seem to be some gaps there. I hope that, in the future, we may address those barriers for women living in rural areas, who find treatment and diagnosis much more difficult. It is great to have Pink Ribbon Day. It is great to be reminded that we need to encourage early detection and early treatment for women and men diagnosed with breast cancer.


The SPEAKER —Order! The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.