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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 September 2015) . . Page.. 3539 ..

As an example, a close family member is currently undergoing tests, which look good, for cancer. Hopefully it is not an issue. But they were told that the waiting time to see a specialist was in the order of two months. I think you can appreciate that when you have a scare, when there are signs, and then you are told that you are not going to be able to see a specialist for about two months that is not good on a number of levels in terms of treatment, the psychological impact on patients and so on.

So there is more that we can do. I recognise and acknowledge the good work that has been done but I do think, as always, there is more that we can do and I would express our support for this important issue. What I would say is that in the years ahead difficult decisions will need to be made and priorities will need to be assessed. Again, I say that the Canberra Liberals’ priorities remain very much in this space and we will not be distracted by funding priorities that I would suggest have a lower importance.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (4.01): I thank Ms Fitzharris for bringing this matter of public importance to the Assembly this afternoon. Many of us are touched by cancer, whether we have experienced it ourselves or have family members, friends or colleagues who have been diagnosed. In fact there are over 120,000 cases diagnosed in Australia every year—but that is only a number. Every diagnosis is a person and they have their own story, their own battle, their own treatment, their own prognosis and their own support network who are impacted by that diagnosis. Cancer remains the leading cause of death in the ACT at 29 per cent of all deaths, closely followed by cardiovascular disease at 28 per cent and then a range of respiratory conditions. We know that once someone has been diagnosed with cancer the provision of appropriate care and access to support is essential and that is why the government remains committed to providing access to cancer care including through the world-class facility at the Canberra Region Cancer Centre.

It is now just over one year since this new facility opened its doors to the people of our city and our region. The centre was part of the former Rudd Labor government’s $2 billion investment to build a world-class cancer care system in Australia. That plan focused on promoting research and improving cancer outcomes for patients. The ACT service has been designed to serve not just our local Canberra community but the broader region. It was announced as part of the $560 million commitment to build a networked best practice regional cancer centre and associated accommodation facility. The ACT committed more than $20 million as part of this project. The centre has over 5,000 square metres of floor space across five levels and in the last 12 months the Canberra Region Cancer Centre has provided over 30,000 occasions of service for cancer patients. In the 2014-l5 financial year Canberra Hospital cancer services provided a total of nearly 72,000 outpatient occasions of service. To give an example of the range of services that have been provided in those numbers, there have been more than 18,000 occasions of services for medical oncology, more than 37,000 occasions of services for radiation oncology, more than 12,000 occasions of services for haematology and just over 3,000 occasions of services for immunology treatments.

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