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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31743

Mr KING (9:49 AM) —I wish to raise two issues: one of health and the other of education. In relation to health, I want to draw the attention of the chamber to the need for more public health programs, which are supplementing the moneys that are paid into the health system in various ways. It is not just about money, but it is also, if I may say so, about programs. The two that I want to mention are for schizophrenia and for sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. I am pleased to say that yesterday in this place the Parliamentary Friends of Schizophrenia group was launched. I was privileged to attend that function, at which John McGrath spoke, and he spoke very well about the suffering that people with schizophrenia have and how they are falling through the cracks in our society.

In my area, where there are a relatively large number of homeless, especially on the western side of the electorate, those who suffer schizophrenia, according to the reports of the Brown Nurses, whom I work with on some of these issues, are amongst the most prevalent. The two problems are these. Firstly, sufferers of schizophrenia are unable to identify their problem, are often in self-denial, take drugs and alcohol and in this way become worse situated than they were before. Also, many of those who are actually homeless suffer from schizophrenia. I think we need a proper targeted public program, working with state authorities, private organisations and charitable organisations such as the Brown Nurses, to address this problem, which is particularly prevalent in our inner cities, although not only in the inner cities.

The other public health program I want to draw attention to relates to Alzheimer's disease. I am pleased to see that Alzheimer's Australia has commenced a public screening program to help potential sufferers from Alzheimer's disease, who ultimately are thrown onto the health system in their 60s suffering dementia and so on, to identify that problem through a public screening process. I would like to see more public support for that particular program because in that way not only will we be helping those people by an alert system but also we will be saving the taxpayers lots of money by addressing the issues before they become a real problem.

The second topic I want to raise concerns education. The two points I want to make briefly are these. First, in relation to HECS payments, I think we need a new program for more library allowances for our universities to help students who cannot afford textbooks because of the problems they have meeting their HECS requirements. The second is that we need special programs to promote expert overseas programs such as those for IFAD.