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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9270


Mr BALDWIN (9:30 AM) —Today I rise to congratulate the government on its initiative of providing $12 million for specialist breast cancer care nurses. The issue of breast cancer is critically important, particularly in the electorate of Paterson, as it has one of the highest aged demographics in Australia, particularly for women. Seventy-five per cent of all breast cancer develops in women 50 years and older, so it is important to the people of my electorate. So, when I read the press release from the Minister for Health and Ageing wherein she said, ‘The nurses are being placed in areas that need them the most and in locations where access to a full-time breast cancer nurse is not currently available,’ I was surprised to see that, in the allocation of the nurses throughout New South Wales, there was not one for the entire Hunter Valley or Manning Valley. Areas like Foster-Tuncurry, Nabiac, Gloucester and Dungog are remote from major hospitals. It is true that Calvary Mater Newcastle is one of the leading breast cancer hospitals in Australia, but that is a long way to travel for these people. What I need to see happen is further funding so that more specialist breast cancer nurses can be provided for communities such as these.

I pay great credit to companies such as Lawler Partners, a local accounting firm in the Hunter, which tomorrow will have a breakfast to raise much needed funds for the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation. But, importantly, the money they raise goes to provide specialist training for nurses for breast cancer support. Here we have a local company putting its efforts into raising funds to train specialist nurses in our area. In addition, next Wednesday—and unfortunately I will be in this place and unable to join them—the Ladies Super Breakfast for Breast Cancer at Nelson Bay Bowling Club will also be held to raise money for the Tomaree Breast Cancer Support group, which is one of the groups I had a close shave meeting with last Friday. I say to the minister: congratulations on the funding, and thank you for supporting great Australians like Glenn McGrath, who has done an amazing job for breast cancer. But, in providing these new nurses, greater consideration needs to be given to the placement of the nurses. Indeed, $12 million in the whole scheme of things is not a lot of money from the health budget, and if preventing the greater incidence of breast cancer through earlier detection can occur by having more nurses, then I would encourage the minister to double the funding so that communities through the Hunter and the Manning Valley can have access to these high-quality nurses, who do make a difference to the lives of women with breast cancer. I call on the government to increase the funding to provide greater support through regional and rural communities.