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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3976

Mr MORRISON (CookMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (10:07): Cancer is an insidious disease which leaves its indelible mark right across our community, not just today but over generations. I imagine there are few in this place who have not lost a family member or friend to cancer and we may even have those who have suffered from cancer and survived that ordeal amongst us today this place. I rise this morning to give my thanks to all of those who took part in the recent Sutherland Shire Relay for Life on a chilly wet weekend on 3 and 4 May at the Sylvania Waters athletics track.

Relay for Life is an overnight, hugely successful community event where teams of 10 to 15 people participate in a relay style walk or run to raise funds for the Cancer Council. Together with my two girls, I joined the relay teams for the start of this year's 2014 Relay for Life, which has now become, over many years, a very significant annual fixture in the shire's calendar.

Cancer does not wait for the cold or the bad weather to lift. Despite the wet and cold conditions that weekend, this year's 2014 Sutherland Shire Relay for Life had a strong field of 199 teams with over 2,000 participants. The local team of volunteer organisers led by Rod Coy—himself a cancer survivor—set an ambitious target of raising $600,000. With the detailed planning of the volunteer committee, the event ran like clockwork and to date those almost 200 teams have raised over $500,000 and are well on their way.

The top fundraising team was Short Circuit Cancer Peak Health, led by team captain and exercise physiologist Brent Collier. That team exceeded their fundraising target, having raised over $20,000. The Sutherland Shire Relay for Life has been run each year since 2002 and is one of the country's most successful relays, ranking consistently in the top five Relay for Life events around the country, and is regularly sought out by similar exercises overseas to see how we do it in the shire.

I wish to make special mention of 17-year-old Chris O'Loughlin, a year 12 student at Cronulla High School who joined 20 of his mates in his first relay. Chris completed a staggering 245 laps continuously for 24 hours. He completed the laps without any sleep or previous training, and raised $365. Chris showed we can make all the difference in the fight against cancer. Rod tells me that the key to their ongoing success at the relay is to make it more than just a relay event. It brings together our shire community for a weekend of fun, entertainment and celebration—and, importantly, remembrance. Sadly, every five minutes another Australian is diagnosed with cancer and, while survival rates are improving every day, cancer in all its forms remains a leading cause of death in our country. It is reassuring to see that those who are fighting this disease get up and live their life every day with great hope and optimism.