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Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Page: 4399


Senator FURNER (12:44 PM) —Yesterday, during my first speech, I made mention of community activities and community events, such as raising money for the cure of cancer, that not only the union movement but also the Labor Party have been involved in. This year, for the second year in a row, Michelle McJannett and I attended ‘Back to Bigriggan’, a fundraiser event organised by the Boonah and Beaudesert Breast Cancer Support Group, on Saturday, 12 July. It is in the south-east corner of Queensland, down in the wonderful area of Forde, the seat of Brett Raguse, a committed and competent MP for that area.

It is always great to be involved in these community events, and it is a cause which many people would align themselves with. It is great to meet people who are active and involved in their communities—for example, the Maloneys. The Maloney family and supporters gather on an annual basis to raise money to seek a cure for cancer in their community and in society in general. They put such an effort into making it a most enjoyable day. The day consists of arriving at about 10 am for morning tea with damper, followed by an enjoyable roast dinner that is complemented by blues and country music played by a local band. This year approximately 300 to 350 people from the south-east corner attended, travelling from as far as Mount Gravatt and Redcliffe by bus.

For the past three years I have also been involved as a co team captain for the Pine Rivers area since it began raising money for the Cancer Council Queensland, and this year I was proud to be part of a joint team that raised nearly $20,000 towards finding a cure for cancer. Equally, it is always a pleasure to be involved in such community activities such as this yearly event, Back to Bigriggan, down in the Rathdowney region, in such a fabulous rural setting.

I wish to extend my appreciation to the owners of the Bigriggan Camping Reserve and hall, who very generously donated the venue this year and have done so in the past. Over $11,500 was raised this year—not a bad effort for a group of community activists. Johan, the daughter of Joan and John Maloney, very bravely had her head shaved, raising nearly $800 towards the $11,500.

We were also able to get assistance from other people to raise funds by way of a raffle, and I am pleased to put on record today that donations were forthcoming from the company Campbells Cash and Carry. A particular thankyou goes to Vicki McLeod, branch manager at the Virginia outlet, and Wendy Cooke, the NUW delegate. They were extremely active in getting the contributions that went towards the raffle, which added to the $11,500 raised on the day. It was a pleasure to have my father, Keith, with me, who celebrated his 81st birthday with us that day and helped me go around raising money in another activity where a whip was auctioned off to increase the amount raised.

We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. It touches everyone. I would like to quote some statistics and information that people would certainly be aware of, to put them on the record. In 2001 there were 11,791 Australian women and 95 Australian men diagnosed with breast cancer; in 2005, there were 2,404 Queensland women and 19 Queensland men diagnosed with breast cancer; one in 11 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 75; 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over 50; mortality in 2001 resulted in 2,596 Australian women and 26 men dying from breast cancer; mortality in 2004 resulted in 456 Queensland women and six Queensland men dying from breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer related death among Australian women.

The risk of breast cancer is extremely high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and it increases with age. Although 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over 50, younger women’s breast cancers are likely to be larger and more aggressive. Each year approximately 700 women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2002, the average age of diagnosis was 60 years for women and 66 for men. Breast cancer is the most common cancer experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a nine per cent higher rate of mortality than the Australian female population as a whole, based on age rates in 2000-04.

And what is a progressive government doing about this? This year, the Rudd Labor government announced a $50 million investment in improving cancer research: $27.5 million over five years to the International Cancer Genome Consortium aimed at understanding genetic changes that cause cancer; over $10 million to support national cancer clinical trial groups, improving access for Australians to enrol into clinical trials, in turn improving access to innovative treatments; and over $10.5 million in grants for 24 cancer related research projects. Reports show that cancer survival rates are improving; however, the survival rates for the lower socioeconomic population and males living in regional and remote areas are lower. This is why I shall continue tirelessly to assist community events, such as Back to Bigriggan and Relay for Life with the Cancer Council Queensland, to hopefully help bring about a cure to this insidious disease, cancer.