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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 2535

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:22): I want to speak about Crohn's disease and put my support for this motion on the record. I thank the member for Dobell for bringing it before the House.

I emphasise that May is Crohn's and Colitis month and we, as a parliament, will need to raise and discuss this issue in May. Crohn's and colitis—or IBD and gastrointestinal diseases—cause a lot of pain and have enormous impact on people's lives. The member for Dobell went through a lot of the symptoms, treatments and impacts of Crohn's and colitis, but I think it is very important to recognise that this is a disease that impacts on a person's life every day.

In a previous life, I worked as a rehabilitation counsellor and had some clients who suffered from Crohn's disease. Not only did it impact on their general health and wellbeing but it also impacted on their ability to find and maintain suitable employment, because it is quite a debilitating disease. As the member for Dobell rightly pointed out, there is no cure for it. It can be controlled, but, even when it is being controlled, there are acute periods. It does not disappear; it is just managed. People with living with Crohn's and colitis take medication, modify their diet and look at the whole of their life to be able to live an effective life.

I would like to see more money put into research in relation to Crohn's. It is quite common and it has such an impact on a person's life. When you have inflammation of the bowel—actually, it is the intestinal system; it can be anywhere from the mouth to the anus—where it is in the digestive system can determine the impact and the severity of Crohn's disease.

People are usually diagnosed when they are under 30, and that correlates with a young woman I know. She went to school with my daughter. When she left school, she immediately travelled overseas and took a gap year in the UK. That gap year became two years. She worked there for a considerable amount of time, came back and then went back over to Ireland. She became very, very ill. She could not eat anything; she lost a phenomenal amount of weight. It was very difficult to find out exactly what was wrong. She came home, was unemployed for quite a period of time and moved back home with her parents. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. She is living a relatively normal life, but she is not the young, healthy person that she was prior to the diagnosis. She looks great. People would not know, by simply looking at her, that she has Crohn's disease. But, like all of the 75,000 Australians who are living with the condition, it does have an enormous impact on her and on her life.

I would like to see us embrace this disease and work harder not only to manage it but also to find a cure. I think the way that that will be brought about is if governments invest more in research so that we can really make an impact on the lives of people living with Crohn's disease.