House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Dwyer, Ms Christine, Australian Capital Territory: Community Events

4:34 pm

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to acknowledge one of my constituents, Christine Dwyer. Christine has been a member of the Canberra community for over 40 years and has spent many of those years volunteering for organisations like Meals on Wheels and the Canberra Hospital ICU. However, it's the informal service she gives to the Canberra community that I want to acknowledge today.

Christine is a friend to all, but particularly a friend to the elderly in Canberra. She has supported many elderly Canberrans who have no family here to their end of life. She does this not just for friends of many decades but for strangers who she makes into friends. She takes them to coffee, to lunch, to the doctor and to hospital appointments. She has helped move them to nursing homes and thoughtfully taken care of household possessions and affairs, tasks that are not easy and that most of us will only ever do for our parents. But Christine steps in when there is a gap and a need. She is a true friend who knows how to ease the burden of loneliness in old age, mostly with visits, cake and listening. She has sat with so many friends in their final hours and given them companionship and peace.

She has also been a constant presence for friends who are caring for their own elderly family members, offering an understanding shoulder to cry on when this task gets too heavy. And she has supported children who have lost their mothers too early, children who are now young adults but who have had Christine watch out for them and mentor them throughout their lives. On behalf of the Canberra community and on behalf of, in particular, Trish, Christina, Olive, Constance, Bette, Carole, Margaret, Harry and the many others who we do not know about and who are not here to say it for themselves: thank you, Christine.

It was great to participate in and support the Epilepsy ACT Walk for Epilepsy on Sunday morning with Fiona Allardyce and ACT Minister for Health Rachel Steven-Smith. Epilepsy ACT makes a significant difference in the lives of families living with epilepsy. There are over 2,340 people in the ACT currently with a diagnosis of epilepsy and hundreds more will receive their diagnosis this year. Epilepsy ACT brings hope to those living with or impacted by epilepsy throughout Canberra and the region. They provide psychosocial supports, education and training, and policy advocacy work to ensure the voice of people with epilepsy is heard.

Last year the Albanese government announced more than $250 million in funding, through the NHMRC and across three different funding streams, to support 258 exceptional health and medical research projects. This includes funding for a team of researchers to investigate therapeutic targets for epilepsy. In one-third of people with epilepsy, currently available therapeutics do not control seizures. As recurrent seizures have significant impacts on patients and their families, there is a clear need for new anti-epileptic drugs. I'm proud to be part of a government funding programs that encourage important medical scientific innovation and supporting organisations like Epilepsy ACT, which do so much for Canberrans living with epilepsy.

February was a busy month in my electorate of Bean, with the launch of my 2023 Bean retiree and seniors kits. This booklet contains high-quality, up-to-date information on services that are available to meet the needs of senior citizens living in Bean. For the first time in three years, we were able to launch this booklet in person rather than online. It was great to meet so many of the senior constituents of Bean, the people who have made our electorate the place that it is today. But it was also great to see the attendees at the event asking questions and connecting with the services that are available to them in Bean, such as the new aged-care specialist services offered by Services Australia.

I would like to thank the staff of Woden Seniors Inc and the team from Communities at Work at the Tuggeranong Community Centre for all the assistance they gave in organising these events. I would like to thank the community groups, local organisations and government representatives who joined us at this event. I was impressed by the depth of knowledge shown by service providers and organisations on the issues faced by the elderly today and by their ability to assist constituents with the problems that they are facing.

As we finish this week, I thought at the beginning of the week that sorry was the hardest word for the opposition to say. But, clearly, when we should be backing Australian know-how, the only know-how that the opposition seems to have is in knowing how to say no.


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