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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4771 ..


MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.56): I will speak to both the motion and the amendment. I do thank Ms Porter for bringing this important motion here today. Indeed, I thank the other speakers who have gone before me and who have spoken very well on the issue of breast cancer, its impact on our community and its impact on families.

It is also an opportunity to acknowledge the work that is done in the government, non-government and private sector in relation to supporting women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and who are recovering from that diagnosis or who are being treated for that diagnosis. I think that is really what Breast Cancer Awareness Month—indeed, 25 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Day—does. It actually provides us with that opportunity.

The government has been working hard to identify, and to work with those stakeholders who also identify, current gaps and pressure in our system. Indeed, the opening of the new Canberra Hospital diagnostic breast imaging service was very much a gap that had been identified by women who had recovered from breast cancer and who had to undergo often yearly or two-yearly X-ray and ultrasound assessments to follow their progress post treatment. For many women, cost is an inhibitor to seeking those tests and follow-up. Not having a public service was identified as a gap, and a gap that I agreed with. Indeed, we sought to fill that gap and we have opened the new service in the last month, but it had been operating for some time before that.

We have also moved to improve the quality of the technology used in the BreastScreen clinics in the ACT to allow for improved and also speedier diagnoses for women. Almost $6 million has gone into improving the technology over three sites—or two sites but in three services—for women undergoing breast screening. I had a look at that last week and was very much impressed with the technology and the partnerships that have been implemented to actually deliver that service to women.

Over the last three years we have committed significant additional funding to ACT Health for several initiatives, two of which I have just spoken on, to increase services for women in relation to the detection and treatment of breast cancer. We do provide an excellent service through BreastScreen ACT and South East New South Wales, as well as this new public diagnostic breast imaging service.

Unless they know a little bit about breast screening, people can misunderstand the role of BreastScreen. BreastScreen is a service for well women. So once you have been identified with an abnormality or a cancer that requires further treatment, you are no longer eligible to go through the BreastScreen service. It does provide a free screening service for women over the age of 40. However, our target years are women aged between 50 and 69.

I listened to Mr Hanson’s comments around focusing more on younger women aged 40 to 50. There has been some recent work done. In fact, there was a national report done into how BreastScreen operates across the country that did look at this issue of targeting women 40 years and up and changing the target years. I think that amongst


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