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Launch of Australian Kidney Awareness Week, Parliament House, Canberra.

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The Hon Julie Bishop MP Minister for Ageing

31 May 2004

Launch of Australian Kidney Awareness Week Parliament House, Canberra


Thank you Ann. Thank you Timothy. To my Parliamentary colleagues Julia Gillard, Bruce Billson, I think I saw Ken Ticehurst here, Billy the Kidney, you are doing a great job there. I have seen Billy around Parliament House and I wondered what it was about!

I am very happy to take part in this vital information seminar today and this week. I know Minister Abbott was very keen to be here. He is personally very supportive of this week and he is, as you pointed out, a very strong advocate of organ donation and has certainly put his support behind organ donation and is trumpeting that program around Australia.

As Minister for Ageing I have portfolio responsibility for a number of matters involving continence, so I am familiar with some of the important issues in ensuring that we keep our bodily functions working. The Government provides about $31 million for continence management in that strategy. It is of great interest to me then as Minister, and this campaign, 2Bs and Wee Week, is a very positive initiative of Kidney Health Australia.

It is a campaign that has a simple aim. I think it has succeeded in simplifying the issues and making it easier for all of us to understand the importance of healthy lifestyles for optimum blood pressure and kidney health. The 2Bs mentioned here are, of course, Balanced lifestyle and Blood pressure. They are important to our overall health, particularly as we age.

I understand that 70 per cent of those over the age of 65 have high blood pressure. One of the fundamental cores of our National Strategy for an Ageing Australia is ‘Healthy Ageing”. So this campaign fits very well into that Government strategy to ensure that as we age, we age in a healthy, productive, active way.

I understand that kidney disease causes or contributes to nearly 10 per cent of all deaths in Australia. In addition, there are currently 2.5 million Australians affected by kidney disease. If the Australian population remains disposed to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, this number will only increase. One in seven of us are at risk of chronic kidney disease, and one 14 have moderately impaired renal function.

Worst of all, it is estimated that 500,000 Australians have early kidney damage and they do not know that they are at risk.

If we can raise their awareness about the risks this week, we may well prevent further decline. Already, one Australian a week dies waiting for a transplant. Dialysis treatment have more than doubled in the last decade to more than 7,000 patients. That is a mean growth of 11 per cent per year up to 2002. Although this has reduced to six per cent per year over the last five years, at the current rate of growth the numbers on dialysis will still double over the next 12 years.

By taking action now, as this campaign reminds us, we can personally prevent or delay the increasing threat, to us, of chronic disease.

As with all countries, governments are faced with a delicate balancing act between keeping pace with the effects of disease and the longer-range strategies which can prevent disease taking hold in the first place. We know that high blood pressure is more likely to develop among people who are overweight, or physically inactive, and that it causes the third greatest burden of disease in Australia, second only to tobacco smoking and physical activity.

I exhort all of you - exercise daily for 30 minutes. I am told that fat burning starts after 30 minutes of exercise so if you want to lose weight as well as keeping fit, 35 minutes at least. Of course we have to eat sensibly, and that is always a challenge for those who work in this House. My colleagues, staff, employees, the media, we can, in fact, do something about the risks to us from chronic kidney disease.

We know that kidney disease can affect anyone and that each year more Australians are diagnosed with end stage renal failure and need dialysis. That is why it is so important, if you think you could be at risk, that you visit your GP and discuss your concerns.

Now let me emphasise, otherwise you can help yourself look after your kidneys by maintaining a balanced diet and not smoking, and undertaking regular exercise. This week’s activities will remind us how vital this is. The blood pressure unit is being established in Parliament House for this day. I suggest that colleagues and the media anybody else involved in Parliament House who work in this high pressure environment, the pressure cooker environment in which we live, should visit the blood pressure unit and just satisfy yourself that your blood pressure is ok and that you would not be at risk of kidney disease.

It is my great pleasure, on behalf of the Minister for Health and Ageing, Minister Tony Abbott, to formally declare open the Australian Kidney Awareness Week.


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Published on Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing web site 31 May 2004

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