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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 13039

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (09:58): On Tuesday this week I met with Kevin and Pat Sleeman, who had come to Canberra to participate in a stroke forum. Kevin is a stroke victim and Pat, although having a full-time job, is Kevin's wife and carer. They were in Canberra because, like so many other people throughout Australia, they understand the daily struggles of stroke victims and their families and wanted to contribute to the national forum. Kevin and Pat believe much more could be done to lessen those hardships.

Stroke can affect any person at any time. On average, in Australia, there is a stroke every 10 minutes. One in three people die within a year of having a stroke. Almost one in five people who experience a stroke are under the age of 55. Strokes are responsible for one in 10 deaths in Australia. When a stroke occurs, steps can be taken which will make a huge difference to their residual effects. Most importantly, there needs to be much greater awareness that, when a stroke occurs, every minute is critical to the level of recovery. Every minute of delay before medical assistance is provided causes more damage. We need to create greater awareness of risk factors and how to immediately recognise the signs of stroke so that medical assistance is not delayed. There needs to be the right medical treatment at the hospital and opportunities for appropriate rehabilitation programs afterwards. And there needs to be more at-home support and easier-to-access information about support services that may be available. This was a point that Pat and Kevin stressed to me: finding out what help is available and where to get it is very difficult. The effects of stroke are inevitably life changing for both the victim and the victim's family. Stroke victims are often left with a disability, but they are not disabled. Many of them continue to work or volunteer their time, as does Kevin Sleeman. However, most require support from family members. That in turn places additional demands and stresses on home life. Over the years I have interacted with stroke victim support groups throughout my community. I am familiar with the barriers and difficulties victims and their families are confronted with. I understand the difficulties they have not only in their mobility and getting around the community but also in getting to the services that they quite often require. I understand very well the huge demands that places on family members who are in most cases left to care for them because they love them dearly and because they are the ones that are closest to them. That in turn totally changes their way of life.

We have indeed come a long way over the years in responding to strokes, but there is still much more that we can do in terms of both medical treatment and research into the kinds of treatments that might be available and the services that can be provided. I will bring those concerns, on behalf of the Sleemans and so many other people that have suffered a stroke, to the attention of this parliament.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members' constituency statements has concluded.