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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3310


Mr CHRISTENSEN (DawsonThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (10:24): It is not every day that I wear purple in parliament, as I am doing today, but today marks Purple Day, which is all about epilepsy and epilepsy awareness. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain's functioning that is most commonly thought of as a recurring convulsive seizure, but it is not always a convulsive seizure. It is actually the world's most common brain disorder. In Queensland alone, over 90,000 children and adults live with epilepsy. Ten per cent of the population will have an epileptic seizure in their lifetime. Only about three or four per cent will actually be diagnosed properly with epilepsy—not that it is a restriction on your abilities. Certainly there are many high achievers and well-known people who have had epilepsy, including Vincent Van Gogh; Julius Caesar; Henry Winkler, the Fonz; and Wally Lewis, who, along with being the greatest rugby league player of all time, is Epilepsy Queensland's patron.

There is no single cause for the condition. There is no cure. However, 70 per cent of people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medication, leading a normal, healthy life. I know a fair bit about this condition because my mother is an epileptic. She medicates and is controlled through that.

Purple Day is 26 March every year, when this grassroots campaign is led around the world. People are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy. They wear purple, host a purple awareness or fundraising activity in their town, community or city and have the oppor­tunity to become a 'purple hero' through the website everydayhero.com.au/event/purpleday. They can do fundraising.

I have to congratulate my own community in my home town of Mackay. The fountain outside the council chambers has had purple water in it for the last week, and on the Saturday night just gone 135 people gathered and raised around $10,000 for epilepsy awareness. Beryl Nielsen, from the Mackay Epilepsy Support Group, was in charge of that. She founded the Mackay Epilepsy Support Group three years ago with her sister. I congratulate these local champions who are raising awareness of epilepsy. It is a condition that, because of my mother's epilepsy, is very close to my heart. I congratulate them on this initiative.