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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14193


Dr STONE (Murray) (11:57): I second the motion and rise to strongly support the motion. I commend the member for Newcastle for bringing it to this parliament. I recently travelled to Vietnam with The Global Fund and members of the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund in order to see firsthand the work they sponsor in the fight against HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In 2003, Australia began its financial contributions to The Global Fund in order to help fight against these three deadly diseases, which continue to devastate the lives of so many of our near and further away neighbours in our region. In particular, in trying to end the scourge of the mosquito-borne disease malaria, Australia has assisted in the creation of the Pacific Malaria Initiative, which focuses on the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Since 2008, we have helped establish the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network. Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is co-chairing the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, or APLMA, whose members have declared their intention to see the elimination of the malaria disease from our region by 2030. APLMA is probably one of the least known actions of Australia in the fight to rid the world of malaria. Along with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, since 2013 these two great leaders and our great countries of Australia and Vietnam have led other heads of government, representing 55 per cent of the world's population, in our endeavours to see a malaria-free Asia-Pacific in the next 15 years.

Just a short time ago, Prime Minister Turnbull wrote to the Asia-Pacific leaders commending the APLMA road map to them ahead of the 10th East Asia Summit. We expect this road map for the elimination of malaria to be endorsed by 21 heads of government soon. I commend our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who, like all prime ministers, is hugely busy, but who also sees the importance of this particular activity or action. Working with Vietnam, one of our closest friends in the region, we aim to see this disease eliminated. Malaria continues to kill children and adults, when, for the cost of an insecticide impregnated bed net, which can be as little as $4, lives can be saved.

When travelling with the Global Fund, we visited a small village in Vietnam close to the Cambodian border. It was surrounded by rubber plantations, the ideal breeding environment for mosquitoes. It was so concerning to be with this village family as they explained that they did have a bed net, and they quickly set it up over their bed to show us. However, the father of the family needed to take this only net and use it when he worked for days at a time as a contractor chipping the weeds in the rubber plantation. This left his wife and two children exposed to mosquitoes until his return. For the small investment of just $4 per net, we could help so many more children see a full and fulfilling life. That is what this Global Fund aims to do.

In the case of HIV, it is now very closely associated with violence against women. When the disease was first described, some 30 or 40 years ago, it was associated with men in same-sex relationships, but today the people who become HIV-AIDS positive are more likely to be women and girls. On 25 November, we were focusing on the terrible levels of domestic or intimate-partner violence in this country. We need to understand that sexual assault and rape worldwide will affect probably one in three women. One billion women have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly from an intimate partner, and intimate-partner violence is most prevalent in PNG and other Pacific Island nations close to us.

This sexual violence can cause physical and emotional trauma and permanent health problems, but it also increases a woman's vulnerability to HIV. The link between violence and HIV is now well established. Women's inability to negotiate safe sex and unwanted sex is closely linked to the incidence of HIV. Unwanted sex results in higher risks of her being injured and bleeding, and easier transmission of the virus. Women who are beaten by their partners are 48 per cent more likely to be infected with HIV. Women living with HIV who are in a violent relationship are more likely to fail to continue treatment. Violence against women in itself is a human rights catastrophe we must deal with, but we must also understand the link to the HIV epidemic, how it also hampers progress in peace, security and eradicating poverty, and how it destroys women's lives.

Finally, let me talk about TB. It is a scourge in our region. We are having more and more of these diseases becoming unable to be treated with known medications. PNG now has one of the highest incidence levels of this disease. I commend this motion. It is most important, and we must continue in our efforts to eradicate these three terrible epidemics.