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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3419


Dr STONE (Murray) (17:26): On 21 March 2013 I sat down next to one of the victims of the forced adoption policies in the Great Hall of this parliament. We had a while to wait for the commencement of the ceremony and so we talked about his life, the sad life that he has had. He has had even more tragedies visited upon him since the initial trauma of his removal from his mother as a newborn. It seems that this incredibly courageous and stoical man, now in his fifties, was one of the many who, perhaps because of diminished responsibility or care, became one of the great many who were subject to medical experimentation, and so he now has serious ongoing health problems.

Michael explained that a series of invasive procedures and the administration of dangerous and, as it turned out, sometimes contaminated drugs left him sterile, stunted and with prostate disease. This he developed when he was still a teenager. He has also had cancer since he was 25. He has suffered, and continues to suffer, a great deal. This very special man, who has given me permission to use his name and pass on his story, has been advocating for proper compensation for himself and his fellow sufferers who were also used as medical guinea pigs in the 1960s and 1970s. More than 200 boys were subject to these treatments, usually prompted by them being short. It was then referred to as 'a failure to thrive'.

Michael O'Meara was born to his then unwed mother in 1961 at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne. His mother wed a few months later. Michael did find and meet his mother in 1989, but tragically she died of cancer shortly after. When his mother was in labour delivering Michael, she was administered LSD as a sedative. This further complicated the birth and affected the baby's kidneys. Michael was recruited into the growth hormone clinic at Prince Henry's Hospital in 1972 when he was just 10 years old. He was subjected to deep sleep therapy in April 1972. At this time he was administered the human growth hormone using products from cadavers. It has since been found that some of this material was contaminated, with a number of young recipients subsequently contracting and dying of the deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD.

On Monday, 16 June 2008 the Hon. Fran Bailey MP put a private member's motion into the House calling on the government to recognise the 'unapproved' recipients of hormone treatments, including the young men and boys like Michael, who received the human growth hormone treatments between the 1960s and the mid 1980s. The motion acknowledged that the report commissioned in 1993, known as the Allars inquiry, found that approved female patients receiving the same treatment, but for infertility, suffered similar negative effects and as a result of that report received compensation from the Commonwealth. Finally, Ms Bailey's motion called for the compensation of the male victims, both 'approved' and 'unofficial', who received the same hormone treatment but usually for growth stimulation purposes.

During the decades of this extraordinary period of medical experimentation on vulnerable young people, some were officially recognised and therefore were designated as 'approved' recipients of the drugs and procedures. Others, however, and that would seem hundreds, were not officially approved victims who received, however, the same treatment by medical practitioners. These unapproved recipients now have great difficulty obtaining their medical records or proper regard for their plight and their need for compensation. The disease CJD, one of the deadly consequences of experimentation with the human growth hormones, has a long incubation period which may extend for years. When it manifests itself, the dementia progresses rapidly until the patient dies a terrible death. It is one of the most terrible of human diseases. There is no easy test other than a brain biopsy that can confirm CJD.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 17:30 to 17:57