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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21683

Mr JOHNSON (4:57 PM) —October is recognised internationally as Breast Cancer Month. It is a time when breast cancer organisations throughout the international community work together to raise awareness and funds for research into the disease. Throughout this month, there will be a focus on progress with research, what we know about breast cancer and what we hope to find out about it in the years ahead, priorities in research funding and making the best use of scarce resources, and information for women with breast cancer as part of a broader educational program. The fourth Monday of October is dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research. Australia's Breast Cancer Day—Pink Ribbon Day—is the key focus for raising funds for breast cancer research.

On Monday, 13 October, I had the great pleasure of hosting a very special and committed Australian who serves as patron of the National Breast Cancer Foundation—Ms Sarah O'Hare. I had the opportunity of hosting her here at Parliament House, together with the CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Ms Sue Murray, who very kindly helped to put that event together. The Minister for Health and Ageing also said a few words to the gathering of colleagues from both the government and the opposition sides. I want to take this opportunity of thanking all those who came along to support this gathering. The idea of the gathering was not only to bring about as much publicity as we could, to those who work in this building and who serve our communities as representatives of the people, but also to gain as much of a national profile as we could. There was no doubt that that would happen, with the patron of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Ms O'Hare, being someone who is widely known throughout this country.

I want to take the opportunity of thanking the various newspapers throughout the country who very generously reported on the event and quoted Ms O'Hare in her capacity as patron of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It is very important that those who represent communities in this country are able to do their bit to educate our fellow Australians. One way of doing that is through having Australians come to this parliament to meet those members of the government who themselves have a high profile and are able to draw the public's attention to very serious and important issues. Ms O'Hare, in her presentation to a gathering of 20-odd members and senators of the parliament including government ministers and shadow ministers, said:

We rely on the community and there isn't enough funding. I find living in the United States that there is a lot more of a philanthropic culture there and I would like to see more of that here, especially with larger corporations getting behind us.

I want to give that message to those corporate leaders in our country who are able to make a contribution to charities and not-for-profit organisations and to encourage them to be very generous where they can be in supporting organisations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The good work that they do is all about helping our fellow Australians.

It might be asked why a member of parliament such as me would raise this issue. I personally do not know anyone who has been a victim of breast cancer; however, my wife has a close friend who has. Breast cancer awareness is a very important issue which crosses party lines and is something that all of us in this parliament can promote.

I want to take the opportunity to again thank Ms O'Hare for coming to the national parliament and doing her bit in her capacity as patron to raise this important issue. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has been operating for nearly a decade and has raised almost $10 million. As the health minister said, it is important and incumbent upon all of us to do as much as we humanly can to rid our society of this scourge, this terrible disease of cancer, and this specific form of cancer.

I conclude by thanking in particular the national newspapers—the Australian, the Courier Mail, the Adelaide Advertiser,the Hobart Mercury, the Canberra Times and the Melbourne Age—for running with the story. This is part of their capacity to make a contribution in a very positive and constructive manner to our fellow Australians. (Time expired)