Page 4135 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how are patients diagnosed with breast cancer supported by ACT Health and other organisations?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Fitzharris for the supplementary. We provide support in two ways—first of all, an in-house support capability through the ACT-based cancer counselling services available to anyone diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as their families. This includes access to social workers, psychologists and a psychiatrist. But we also have strong connections with the broader community sector.

We have strong connections and funding arrangements with organisations like Bosom Buddies ACT who, this year, are celebrating 20 years of service to the ACT community. Over the past 20 years Bosom Buddies volunteers have supported women undergoing treatment for breast cancer and have actively promoted the importance of the early detection of breast cancer through their community awareness program.

The types of programs Bosom Buddies have delivered for people with breast cancer include personalised support via phone, in hospital, and visits. There is the blue buddy gift bag program that they provide, which has handmade drainage bags and underarm cushions made by women across the region, literature from all the other support groups and medical information from breast care nurses. Over 400 of these bags were provided to the hospital last year and that is a regular volume that we see most years. Then there are the breast awareness presentations to organisations large and small and their engagement with BreastScreen ACT to develop literature, show bags and other information for people undertaking the screening program.

For the past 20 years Bosom Buddies have provided thousands of local Canberra women with important support at what is a very difficult time. I would like to congratulate them in particular on their 20th anniversary.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, can you please update the Assembly on the Australian Capital Territory and South East New South Wales Region Breast Cancer Treatment Group quality assurance program?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for the supplementary. Yes, the Australian Capital Territory and South East New South Wales Breast Cancer Treatment Group was formed in 1995. The breast cancer treatment quality assurance project was established in that year. It has been running ever since. It gives us evidence as to the effectiveness and efficacy of our breast cancer treatment program.

The project provides clinicians and the community with up-to-date information about breast cancer treatment options both in our city and in the surrounding region. Because it has done so now over the past 15 years, we have very strong trend information and data that can be drawn upon.

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