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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4386

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (19:24): I rise today to talk about the importance of good healthcare services. I am proud to be part of a government that has done so much to invest in better healthcare services. Of course, we still need to keep up the effort and we need to keep investing. However, I am pleased to be part of a government that turned around years of neglect under the previous Howard government. During the break from parliament in April I was able to go and see firsthand some great funded initiatives that are impacting on and improving the lives of people in my electorate.

On 12 April I was able to attend the opening of one of BreastScreen Australia's upgrades, namely their clinic in Marion in South Australia. The federal government made a commitment of $120 million to upgrade breast screen equipment to digital mammography, which has funded the upgrade of the Marion clinic and also has funded an upgrade of technology in Noarlunga. Both of these clinics service my electorate. This technology is truly a breakthrough technology. It allows for early detection of breast cancer.

The minister and I got to speak with staff firsthand to see how this will impact. With the improved screening capacity that will come from this funding, 30 per cent more South Australians will have access to this service. That will mean 23,000 more South Australian women will have access by 2015. This is critical in terms of early detection and in ensuring that we save the lives of many, many women, including those that come from my electorate.

In addition to what we saw with the improved capacity, this new technology is much more comfortable for patients, and this was something that I got to hear about firsthand from the staff, the radiographers and the patients at the clinic. The patients said that it is much more comfortable to have the screens, and the staff said that it is much easier for them to manipulate the equipment. This is a good investment and is something that is really improving lives and, hopefully, will save many lives in my electorate.

In addition I was also able to attend the opening of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. This is a collaborative initiative, and I would like to congratulate the many, many people who have worked for many years to put this centre together. This is something that will be at the apex of cancer research and treatment in Australia. It is, once again, an example of South Australia batting well above its weight. One of the key things of the centre is to bring research, treatment, clinicians and a whole range of people together to translate what they know into improved clinical outcomes. That is really critical. The federal government contributed $10 million to the centre, and money was also raised from private organisations, from members of the community and from the state government. There was real ownership over it. I think it will have some wonderful benefits for cancer sufferers right around Australia.

I would like to make the point that it is not just the official health professionals that make a difference—they do a great job—but it is also volunteers in cancer support groups that make a real contribution to helping the people suffering from cancer and helping their families. In particular I mention the Fleurieu Cancer Network's Cancer Friendship Support Group. This group is instrumental in connecting people suffering from cancer, along with their families and friends, to provide support and understanding and to share experiences. This can be so important as people go through cancer treatment, cancer therapy and eventually come out the other end. Indeed, cancer does change some people's lives forever, even when they have recovered. This group fosters and improves community participation and advocates as well. I take this opportunity to thank two people in particular who have been the backbone of this group—Artie and Julie Ferguson. They have volunteered many hours of their time helping people in our local community in the City of Onkaparinga.

These are just some examples. I could not get to the diabetes program that I visited, which I did want to also talk about. That program is, once again, making a difference to people's lives in South Australia. There are many initiatives funded by this federal government, and I am pleased that we are making a difference to health care in our community. (Time expired)