Page 3981 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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There are a very large number of very effective, important and highly valuable prevention campaigns when it comes to preventable public health. A clear one from very recent times is the immense campaign that was run to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. In the ACT, in particular, this was extremely effective.

There have been effective campaigns for all sorts of vaccines over the decades. There are continuous campaigns about the danger of drinking alcohol when pregnant. There have been campaigns about preventive oral health, and the dangers of tobacco smoking.

It is clear that there have been many tangible benefits for the health of our society due to awareness-raising campaigns, both private and public. However, as Ms Orr noted in her motion, there is a gap in the coverage of these campaigns, and a pretty big one. As far as I know, there is no large campaign about autoimmune disorders in Australia. World Lupus Day is 10 May. There are campaigns about arthritis, which include rheumatoid arthritis. The broad concept of autoimmune disorders and the diverse effects and warning signs are absent from community awareness.

As Ms Orr notes in her motion, autoimmune diseases do not affect most people, but there are a large minority who are affected. It is estimated that five per cent of the Australian population is affected by an autoimmune disorder of one type or another. This means that around 1.2 million Australians, and around 22,000 Canberrans, are affected. This makes autoimmune diseases one of the leading causes of chronic illness in Australia.

On a personal note from Ms Orr, as she had said in this chamber before, she is a sufferer of an autoimmune disorder. She is one of those 22,000 Canberrans. To briefly remind members, she was diagnosed with ITP, immune thrombocytopenia, 13 years ago. It has had a big impact on her life. Finding information about the disorder was next to impossible when she was first diagnosed. Potentially, with an awareness campaign, or a peak body able to provide this information, she would have been left less in the dark for all of those years.

The effects experienced by these Canberrans, and anyone else who lives with an autoimmune disorder, are extremely varied, both in the types of symptoms and in the severity of the symptoms. Some are very mild, but some can be life threatening.
These disorders can affect the skin, cause gluten intolerance, or cause the pancreas to produce insufficient insulin. There are around 80 different conditions that I could list, and there may well be more that are discovered as the research evolves over time.

Additionally, the duration of these disorders can have an impact that is also quite varied. Alopecia can cause someone to lose all of their hair, and sometimes facial hair. This disorder can occur as a one-off instance and then never happen again, or it can be more of an ongoing problem. Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is a lifelong condition requiring constant monitoring and treatment for the entirety of one’s life.

Autoimmune diseases can have an impact on anyone. However, overall, women are more likely to experience an autoimmune disorder, and there are some which are

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