Page 4780 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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MR SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

Cancer support

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.48): It was some 20 years ago that Yvonne Cuschieri set out to help 13 kids with cancer attend a CanTeen national camp. Word soon spread about this selfless act and soon Yvonne was in need of help. In March 1986, in her dining room, Yvonne met with her friends to discuss how they could assist families of children with cancer. So began the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group. Now, some 20 years later, demand for their support has grown so large that the organisation employs office staff. Thanks to the generosity of government and community, these positions are funded, allowing the group to maintain its policy of all donations going to families.

You do not need statistics to know that every Canberran has been affected by the diagnosis of a loved one with cancer. I have been affected because I saw my brother pass away at an early age due to melanoma. Dealing with cancer is an emotional roller-coaster ride for patients and their families alike. Highs are often met with lows. As anyone who has ever had a loved one suffer from cancer knows, treatment is at times painful; it is also intrusive and does not always guarantee a happy ending.

The effects of cancer are not limited to the emotional and physical aspects. As the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group rightly point out, the bills do not stop when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. When a child is going through treatment it is normally the case that at least one parent or care giver gives up employment to care for their sick child. In the case of an adult, it is usually the partner who is the carer, resulting in some couples having to rely on sickness payments.

It is the key objective of the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group to limit the impact of cancer in the community by focusing on the needs of cancer patients and their parents. Alleviating the added financial strain of supporting a cancer sufferer is a real and tangible means of assisting these families. The group is able to do this in a number of ways. The organisation has purchased equipment such as videos, television sets and recliner chairs, to make time spent in hospital more tolerable. The group has supplied medical equipment for the hospitals that treat Canberra’s young people.

Firstly, I think it is important to acknowledge the work done by the volunteers of the group, the hardworking men and women who dedicate their time and energy to give the emotional support needed by many families in our community and ensure that the donations received are delivered to families in need. Secondly, this organisation could not run on the scale it does without its major sponsors, who are vital to the group’s ongoing viability. Finally, the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group relies on us—members of the community—to donate our time and money to its ongoing fundraising events.

One such event is the annual Hawaiian shirt day. I am very proud to say that this year my office organised a morning tea to raise funds around this event. Not only was this an attempt to raise funds; it was also an opportunity to dust off those loud and proud Hawaiian shirts. Like the Hawaiian shirts, moneys were aplenty. Here in the Assembly

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