Page 3899 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013
MS GALLAGHER: It is actually a question that is very difficult to answer. I have asked experts over the years why it is so, and nobody can give me a clear answer. The service is there, the information is there, and campaigns are there to remind people of the need to undertake regular breast screening, particularly for those aged 50 to 69.
In the last figures that I have seen, because there has been work done in the last year to raise awareness of the need to increase our participation rate, in June 2013 the participation rate had increased to 56 per cent and is the highest level of participation for the last five years. So I would say it is an ongoing challenge. There is no simple answer. People would say that the characteristics of the ACT community would mean we would have the highest participation rate in the country, and we simply do not. We are educated; we know that we have high levels of the incidence of breast cancer. The information is there; the service is there. If you ring today, you will have an appointment next week. We have ramped up all of our staffing.
I have certainly been through it in the last year. It is not something that you look forward to, but it is a comfort when you have had it done and you get the all clear. So I think it is probably a matter of talking about it. I note the Canberra Times is running a series on it at the moment. Again, that will increase awareness of it. The other thing is that we did see a small increase after Angelina Jolie’s public announcement of the operations that she has had to deal with the particular gene she has. So all of that helps. We are working on it and seeing some improvement, but we have to continue raising awareness about it, particularly amongst target women.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, where are the free breast screening services provided in the ACT?
MS GALLAGHER: The breast screening services are provided at Phillip and at Civic.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: Minister, is the participation in breast screens through private clinics included in the statistics that are collected by the ACT government?
MS GALLAGHER: Could you repeat that? I am sorry; I missed the middle section.
MRS JONES: Yes. Are these statistics of women who participate in breast screening through private clinics also included in the data that is collected about how many women are participating in breast screening in the ACT?
MS GALLAGHER: BreastScreen ACT is not private. As to the data collected through that, my understanding would be it is all of the breast screens across Australia. I am not sure the private sector would do necessarily the screening program as it is offered by BreastScreen ACT. They would do more specialised work, particularly if a woman has a concern and wants to go private. But I will check that. I do not believe so but I will check to make sure.