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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3198


Ms O'NEIL (Hotham) (13:33): March 26 is the international Purple Day for epilepsy and is dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. It is a day for us to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. In Australia, one in 25 people has epilepsy, including one of my electorate officers, Luke. Epileptics live in all electorates. They are often hidden from view and they suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety as a result of stigma, control over seizures and lack of employment. The Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria works tirelessly to raise awareness, reduce stigma and provide support for epileptics and their families. The foundation has 200 volunteers across Victoria and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The area surrounding Hotham has strong links to the beginning of the Epilepsy Foundation. From 1907 to 1961, the Talbot Colony for Epileptics was located in Clayton. When it closed it left people with epilepsy to basically fend for themselves. In 1954, Mary Davis, a mother of an epileptic, lobbied politicians and health professionals for better support services. A politician told Mary that because she had her own house and family income, she should go home and look after her son. Refusing to give up, she worked with others to form the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.

March 26 is a day to show support, remember a loved one, honour a friend or simply talk about epilepsy. I thank the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria, Epilepsy Action Australia and their many volunteers across the country who reduce stigma every day by raising awareness about epilepsy.