Published: 25 June 2015

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, as you did early in the week, I acknowledge Bronte Charles in the Chamber.  She is a work experience student from St Aloysius Catholic College who has had had the opportunity to work with me during this week, but more importantly to meet a range of other staff and become aware of the facilities and services provided around the Parliament.


I know she has had a good experience doing that.  I thank the staff who have worked with Bronte and supported her and given her a great experience in her time here.

Mr Finch - She met me as well.

Ms FORREST - Did she?  You cannot help some things.

I also thank Bronte for her work and predominantly her preparation of the speech I am about to give.  This is mostly her work.  We had a chat earlier in the week and decided what we could prepare and this is her work.  I want to acknowledge that.  She has also been here long hours.  She was here at 7.30 a.m. to attend a meeting with me so she has been not just doing the hours that some might see we do but much more extended hours.  She is a hard worker. 

Mr President, we all have in some way been touched by cancer.  Cancer has been identified as the number one burden by the Australian healthcare industry.  According to the Menzies Institute, in 2011 there were 3 141 new cases of cancer in Tasmania.  They also estimated that for Tasmanians the risk of developing any form of cancer by the age of 75 is one in three.  Each person sitting here in this room has a one-in-three chance of developing cancer before they turn 75.  This startling fact needs consideration and discussion, and hence the next point. 

Dry July is a fund raiser that raises money for adults living with cancer and by doing so helps improve the health of the participant.  Dry July challenges participants to give up alcohol for the month of July, thus improving their own health and more importantly, they fundraise for a local cancer charity by collecting donations.  By joining the Dry July cause, you can improve the lives of those living with cancer in our community but also improve your own health and lower your risk of developing cancer.

Dry July is a national charity that has local benefits.  It is held across all of Australia but specific donations go toward local charities, for example, the Cancer Council.  This year money raised for the Cancer Council will go towards acquiring a new transport‑to‑treatment bus. 

This is eighth year that Dry July has been held and every year has had a milestone number of participants and money raised.  The first year the event was held was in 2008.  One thousand people signed up and raised $250 000 for a local hospital.  Last year they raised $3.8 million for cancer services Australia-wide as well as embarking on a number of world-breaking attempts to show the power of sobriety.

This year's theme, Everyone has a Story, represents the sad fact that every Australian has a cancer story about themselves, their family or someone they know.  This is supported by the above statistics.  Through Dry July, organisers want to reduce the number of people with a cancer story and to raise funds for those who have. 

My story relates to my mum, who has had two rounds of chemotherapy to treat lymphoma, a cancer that can often be treated if detected early with quite toxic drugs which can have some very tough side effects.  It never really goes away.  It just goes into remission, which it still is, thankfully.  My mum is a tough woman who has fought and won two rounds with this battle so far and I hope she continues to remain in remission.

The most important aspect of Dry July is raising awareness of cancer.  One of the dangers of not having a family member with cancer can be complacency in getting tested.  With no family history, the dangers of emphysema or cancers of the liver, due to smoking or drinking, may not be well understood and therefore not anticipated.  Even though many people have experienced cancer, those not affected do not necessarily feel they are at risk.  Therefore, raising awareness of the danger is essential, which Dry July does.  Early detection lifts survival rates for every type of cancer.  Screening and testing is important for every person, regardless of personal experience. 

In 2011, amongst the cancers that cause the most deaths in Australia were breast and bowel cancer.  This fact is difficult to hear, given there are systems in place to detect and prevent these cancers.  These routine screen tests for bowel and breasts cancers improve survival rates significantly. 

According to the National Bowel Cancer Screening project, 90 per cent of bowel cancers are successfully treated if detected early.  Statistics from the Cancer Council say that screening through mammogram reduces mortality by 28 per cent for breast cancer.  The other major killers for cancer patients do not have routine screening available, indicating that early detection is the best treatment.  Given there is screening available for breast and bowel cancer, most people should be aware of the risks and screening, regardless of their family history.

Statistics provided by Cancer Australia indicated that between 2006 and 2010, the survival rates for all cancers were significantly lower for people living in remote areas - 63 per cent of people diagnosed with all forms of cancers survive in remote areas, while 71 per cent of people in major cities survive.  This indicates that remote areas either need better outlets for testing to take place or further encouragement and education to be screened for cancers. 

Dry July is a call to action:  give up alcohol for a month to raise awareness and funds for those with cancer and to remind people to get screened so they do not become one of the sad statistics.  Everyone from a remote area should do all that is possible to try to support screening to balance those numbers out and hopefully, one day, rule out the need for these statistics to be kept. 

Do not forget that one in three of you will experience cancer yourself by the time you are 75 and all of you will be touched by cancer in some way.  We cannot be complacent.  We should all consider joining Dry July or donating to someone like me, who has joined up, and support those living with cancer.

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