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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20037


Mrs DRAPER (4:19 PM) —I would like to commend all the members on both sides of the House who are supporting this motion on osteoporosis. Sadly, we probably all know of someone, either in our families or amongst our friends and/or constituents, who suffers from the debilitating effects of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means `porous bones'. It is a disease which causes severe deterioration in bone density, leading to weakness and the increased likelihood of breaking or fracturing bones should the person suffer a fall. This motion provides us with the opportunity to reinforce the message that osteoporosis is preventable. It is important that this message is understood by the Australian people, particularly those who are most at risk, such as women after menopause and men with low testosterone levels. The organisation Osteoporosis Australia produces a lot of very good information about the disease and how it can be prevented. On its web site, at www.osteoporosis.org.au, it provides people with the opportunity to gain an assessment of the risk they face, based on their health and lifestyle, of suffering osteoporosis. It is a quick and easy assessment to do.

In 1999 the results of a national nutrition survey were released by the CSIRO which revealed that over 90 per cent of Australians aged 65 years or older were not consuming their recommended daily intake of dairy foods and were not getting sufficient calcium. Osteoporosis robs the bones of calcium. Dr Peter Ebeling, endocrinologist at the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital at the time of the survey's release, stated:

People aged over 65 need at least 1000mg of calcium every day to help slow down bone loss.

While osteoporosis is not curable, it is preventable and it can be managed. We can protect our bones by eating a good diet, with an adequate intake of calcium, and by maintaining an active lifestyle which includes regular physical exercise, such as walking.

The report produced for Osteoporosis Australia by Access Economics Pty Ltd entitled The burden of brittle bones: costing osteoporosis in Australia states that osteoporosis is `the disease we don't have to have', and yet an estimated two million Australians already suffer from osteoporosis-related conditions and the prediction is made that this will increase to three million people by 2021. It was a recommendation in the report that dealing with the growing problem of osteoporosis be made a national health priority, with commensurate funding. I am pleased to note the lead taken by the health minister, Senator Kay Patterson. Senator Patterson is leading all state and territory ministers to an agreement to designate arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoporosis, as a national health priority area. This means that a high priority is already being given to the work of health professionals and key community groups to improve the health and wellbeing of people with osteoporosis.

The federal government has also funded the initiative known as National Falls Prevention for Older People, which aims to reduce the number of serious falls suffered by older people, particularly those who have osteoporosis. I particularly welcome the $10 million in funding for research projects in South Australia announced by the minister in October 2002. Those projects include efforts to develop drug or dietary strategies to prevent osteoporosis. In the 2002-03 federal budget, $11.5 million was allocated over four years to help reduce the incidence of bone and joint conditions in the community. This was followed by an additional $21.8 million in this year's federal budget to help people with chronic conditions, including arthritis and osteoporosis. An additional $2.3 million was also provided for the National Falls Prevention in Older People initiative.

Australia is one of more than 60 countries that have signed up to the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010, which is endorsed by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. Activities over the decade are designed to improve the health related quality of life for people with bone and joint conditions. Osteoporosis is preventable and with a good diet and plenty of exercise many Australians can avoid the effects of this debilitating disease.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is therefore adjourned and will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.