Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4207..
Mr Barr: And Dr Foskey.
MS PORTER: And Dr Foskey. Thank you, Mr Barr. We could have nearly had the Assembly in that room. But there were certainly a lot of people from many other places. There were representatives from the community sector, naturally; consular and diplomatic representatives; several members of the Australian Federal Police; and other interested people. The breakfast was followed by an awareness raising activity in Garema Place and in Westfield in Woden. World AIDS Day concluded in the ACT with an ecumenical service and a twilight picnic at the national carillon.
I hope everyone got the chance to see all the buildings around Lake Burley Griffin lit up with red during AIDS Awareness Week. That is, I believe, a really significant way to remember all those who are affected by HIV/AIDS in our community and around the world. Each year, more buildings will be added to the list. If you want to be able to wear one of these lovely red arm bands to be able to raise awareness and remind yourself about the significant and concerning issues to do with HIV/AIDS, there are plenty in Ms Gallagher's office. The people there will be able to supply you with one.
I thank all members for their attention. I encourage you all to become more and more aware of these issues, which, sadly, still face us in our community in 2006.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.50): I thank Ms Porter for raising this issue; it is an important issue. It is something that is not going to go away in the short term and we should not assume either that it has gone away or that we have fixed the problem.
It is interesting to look at the data from the national AIDS registry on cases reported in the ACT for the year ending 31 March 2006. The increase in cases reported in the ACT was 1.1 per cent and the number of deaths reported in the ACT increased by 1.2 per cent. That is in stark contrast to states like New South Wales, where the increase was reported to be 57 per cent; Queensland, where it was 11 per cent; or Victoria, where it was 20 per cent. The only states lower than the ACT are Tasmania, at 0.6 per cent, and the Northern Territory, at 0.5 per cent.
Those figures show that, unless we continue to stress the importance of the prevention of the transmission of HIV/AIDS, we could quite easily see the rate grow unexpectedly and quite devastatingly. Over the years, the ACT has done very well in notifying people of the disease and in combating the disease. The strong response—led particularly by the AIDS Action Council of the ACT over many years—is certainly to be commended. Successive governments—of either political ilk—have done what they can to get the message out.
In terms of where the ACT sits, it is interesting to look at the cumulative statistics. Since the onset of the AIDS epidemic 25 years ago, some 25,000 diagnoses have been made in Australia. If we assume that the ACT has two per cent of the population in Australia, that would mean that in the ACT we should have had something like 500 cases, but actually we have had 285 cases notified in that time. I think the reason that the figure is much lower—almost one per cent of total cases instead of the two per cent that you would normally expect on the basis of population—is the way that all of the community have worked towards this issue in a bipartisan way.