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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 643

Ms MARINO (8:53 PM) —I am very pleased to speak on the motion by the member for Shortland. I understand the importance of raising awareness of stroke in Australia, as it is Australia’s second-biggest killer and a leading cause of disability, costing the health system approximately $2.14 billion each year. According to The Western Australian Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, the second most common cardiovascular disease condition reported in Western Australia is stroke, and the consequences of stroke tend to be more severe in regional areas. For the period 1997 to 2006, in my electorate of Forrest in the south-west health region the mortality rates for stroke were significantly higher than the WA state rate. Given this, I take a very personal interest in spreading information and raising awareness of stroke.

On a personal note, I would like to tell the story of a close friend and mentor, one of my constituents, Mrs Jenny Fry, who suffered a stroke in 2009. Jenny was one of the lucky ones, if you can call it that. She is lucky that, firstly, she survived her stroke and, secondly, that she can still walk and, albeit with some difficulty and frustration, talk. On the day of her stroke, Jenny had spent time at numerous meetings, which is normal. When she arrived home she picked up her cat and tried to unlock the door to let herself in. For some reason she found it difficult to open the door, so she put the cat down to try to concentrate on opening the door. Once she had done this she realised she really did not feel well, so she walked through the house and lay on her bed. Jenny’s husband, Peter, followed her into the bedroom and saw that she was not her normal self. He phoned 000 and an ambulance was sent immediately. This, though, was the last thing that Jenny remembered for two full days. Two whole days have been lost from her memory. She has no recollection of them and was not able to speak at all during that time. I know when I went to see her how frustrated she was.

After spending a fortnight in hospital, Jenny was allowed to return home, but to this day she endures the ongoing effects of her stroke. She finds it very difficult to communicate and is often unable to speak in the manner that she wants to or is used to. She was very articulate, very strong in her views and very good at letting everybody know what she thought. She now also suffers from TIAs, or mini strokes, where she has complete blackouts for a period of time. Because of this, Jenny has voluntarily given up her drivers licence. Often she cannot remember the names of long-term friends and sadly she has lost her motivation for carrying out stitch work, a previous passion of hers. Despite these effects, Jenny has no problem doing her and her husband’s banking and she is still a great card player. The one thing that I am truly grateful for is that she has not lost her sense of humour. On days when it is all a bit too much or when Jenny is having trouble with her speech, you can still always count on her having a smile and a laugh. This just shows her determination and positive attitude.

I am aware that there are insufficient services in the south-west of WA for those who have suffered a stroke. After her stroke, Jenny underwent speech therapy. There were no appropriate speech therapists available in the Bunbury region, so someone was sent from Perth. This leads me to the efforts of a local woman, Anne Jackson, who worked tirelessly for 12 months to establish the Bunbury and District Stroke Support Group. Unfortunately, Anne has since passed away, but the group continues to provide much appreciated support to stroke survivors, especially in regaining their self-confidence. The group also assists carers, family and friends to learn about adapting to the new situation that arises after strokes.

What worries me, and I am very pleased with this motion by the member for Shortland, is that Jenny Fry, a stroke sufferer herself, did not know how she could have prevented her stroke. Nor was she aware, until we notified her, of National Stroke Awareness Week 2010. If a former stroke sufferer is not aware of the work of the National Stroke Foundation, the effectiveness of the FAST campaign or the prevention of stroke then how can the average Australian be expected to know this information? That is why I, like the member for Shortland, will continue to raise the profile of National Stroke Awareness Week.

Stroke plays a major role in our society, and we have heard tonight how that will increase, whether we like it or not. I strongly support this motion by the member for Shortland in its aim to increase stroke awareness in Australia.