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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3344


Senator BILYK (7:28 PM) —Tonight I rise to speak about the wonderful organisation Cancer Council Australia and the important work it undertakes. Cancer Council Australia is the nation’s peak non-government cancer control organisation. Cancer Council Australia advises the Australian government and other bodies on practices and policies to help prevent, detect and treat cancer. It also advocates for the right of cancer patients to the best treatment and supportive care. Cancer Council Australia has branches in each state and territory. Cancer Council Australia works tirelessly to provide support to cancer sufferers and their families. It offers a support hotline, education and financial assistance in the form of grants and loans and also raises funds.

Much of the money raised by the Cancer Council goes towards supporting research into cancer. This year alone the Cancer Council has granted more than $47 million to cancer research, research scholarships and fellowships. Over a 12-year period the Cancer Council has allocated over $3 million to cancer research in my home state of Tasmania, and that is thanks to the generous support of the Tasmanian community. It is vital that this research is undertaken so that cancer sufferers are given a better quality of life and so that one day, hopefully, a cure is found.

I know a number of members and senators participate in various activities to help raise funds for the Cancer Council, activities such as Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, Girls Night In, Relay for Life, Daffodil Day, Pink Ribbon Day and the Gala Ball. Cancer has been part of many members’ and senators’ lives, and I know I am not the only survivor in this place. I was pleased recently to attend an event held in Parliament House by the Cancer Council to help raise awareness, and they were seeking support from members and senators to help raise awareness of their cause.

Last week I joined with my colleague the member for Franklin, Julie Collins MP, to host events to support the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea. We held a morning tea in my Kingston electorate office on 10 June and an afternoon tea at Ms Collins’s Rosny electorate office on 11 June. I am pleased to say that both events were well attended by members of the community. These events were not about politics. They were above politics and about raising awareness and fundraising for the Cancer Council. We were fortunate to have members of the Cancer Council staff at both events. The new Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council Tasmania, Darren Carr, spoke at the event in my office, while Celia Taylor addressed the guests at Julie Collins’s office.

Darren Carr spoke about where the funds raised are being spent and mentioned one of the services in particular that this year’s fundraising will assist with—that is, transport for patients. One of the participants at my office morning tea told how, when she was diagnosed with cancer some years ago, there was no transport available, so she drove herself to and from her treatment. This woman lives 15 minutes south of Hobart. She made that 15-minute drive each time she had to have her radiotherapy treatment. She is obviously a brave woman—there is no doubt about that—but that just should not have to happen.

The Cancer Council Tasmania has launched a volunteer based cancer patient transport system for Tasmanian cancer patients and their carers travelling to treatment. ‘transport 2 treatment’, as it is called, provides a range of transport options as well as travel assistance for cancer patients around Tasmania. transport 2 treatment can also reimburse travel costs to people transporting friends or relatives to treatment and offers financial assistance to patients who can drive themselves but have difficulty meeting the high costs of travel.

Last year Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea raised a mind-boggling $10.6 million. It was wonderful to see the very generous people of Tasmania give willingly to this important cause, not just at the events held by Julie Collins and me but at the numerous events held throughout the state. The events held by Julie Collins and me raised over $500. This year is the second year I have hosted an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event. I am looking forward to the third in 2011, and we might have to find a bigger venue next year so we can invite more people.

This year the Cancer Council aim to raise $12 million Australia-wide. I hope they reach that goal. In March this year I was involved in a thankyou evening for the top 10 fundraisers in the last Girls Night In fundraising event in Tasmania. Funds raised for Girls Night In help the approximately 15,700 women who are diagnosed with breast and gynaecological cancers each year. Women simply register as Girls Night In hosts and then invite their female friends, workmates and family to get together for an evening. Guests are asked to donate the equivalent of what they would have spent on a night out.

The Cancer Council value the support they get from the community, and the evening I attended was a way for them to say thank you to the top ten fundraisers for Tasmania. I had a chance to meet people from all over the state who organised various activities, all in the name of helping others. The great thing about Girls Night In is that it can be anything you want it to be: a movie night, a get-together in someone’s lounge, a beauty night. I even know of someone who was going to host a foot spa evening. It is a great way to catch up with girlfriends and raise some money for a very worthy cause.

I will also be hosting a Girl’s Night In at my office in August. Although Girl’s Night In is usually held in October, events can be held anytime. Of course, the Cancer Council are extremely grateful for all moneys raised. I am inviting family, friends and members of the local business community, and hopefully it will be a fun night and raise some much needed dollars for the Cancer Council. I encourage everyone to support the Cancer Council and other organisations that work hard to help people with illness. Every cent raised and every hour spent volunteering is appreciated by the organisations and by the people they support.

I will now give some examples of what your money can be used for if you choose to donate to the Cancer Council. For just $5 you can help give a newly diagnosed cancer patient important support and information resources to help them through their cancer journey. Ten dollars can help staff the Cancer Council helpline with expertly trained nurses and health counsellors. Twenty dollars can help train a Cancer Connect volunteer to provide one-on-one support for people diagnosed with cancer. Fifty dollars can help them visit a community to educate health professionals and support patients and carers. A hundred dollars can help provide SunSmart educational talks to schools and community groups. Five hundred dollars can help fund research into the causes of cancer and into new and improved treatments. So, as you can see, even a little bit of money can go a very long way.

Volunteers are an important part of the community, and the Cancer Council really appreciates the work that its volunteers do. Unfortunately, I was unable to host an event for volunteers during National Volunteer Week. However, I am holding an event in my office next month to pay tribute to some of the volunteers in the local community. Hopefully among the people attending will be volunteers from the Cancer Council.

I congratulate the Cancer Council on their fine work and look forward to a long association with them. I would like to leave people with this fact: one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85. That is something we should all be working to combat. In conclusion, I thank all those people who have helped raise funds and the volunteers and staff of Cancer Council Australia for their hard work and dedication to this very worthy cause.