House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Endometriosis Awareness Month

1:52 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to support this motion moved by the member for Lalor on behalf of the member for Bendigo. I thank them both for bringing this important issue up for debate in this parliament. I also want to acknowledge the work of the member for Forrest as co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Endometriosis Awareness.

For centuries, women around the world have suffered from severe and debilitating pelvic pain month after month, year after year, often being misdiagnosed, ignored, or indeed not believed at all. They've been told, 'It's all in your head,' or, 'It's just part of being a woman,' or, 'It's just the family curse.' They have suffered in silence as a result. Most severe pelvic pain is endometriosis. It isn't just bad period pain, but too often it's been dismissed as such. Endometriosis is a debilitating disease where tissue lining grows outside the womb and can grow into other parts of the body, including bowel and bladder. It has even been found in the skin, joints, lungs and brain. It can cause unbearable pain and problems with a woman's fertility. Many women experience heavy bleeding, pain with bowel motions, painful intercourse, nausea and vomiting. And it affects women in all aspects of life, including schooling, work, sport, relationships and mental health.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

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It is indiscriminate and it affects at least one in nine women of all ages and races and every socioeconomic status. There is no known cause, no cure and no preventive medicine, and the disease can take, on average, seven years to be diagnosed. That's a very long time for a woman to be in pain, without a diagnosis and accurate treatment. Until recently, there was very little understanding of endometriosis or pelvic pain in the medical community. In 2021-22, there were 40,500 endometriosis related hospitalisations in Australia, 82 per cent of which were women aged between 15 and 44. That's 18 out of every 1,000 women in this age group being hospitalised for endometriosis or related conditions.

The Labor Party are a party of women, and endometriosis is a women's issue that we take very seriously. We are taking practical steps to improve diagnosis and treatment, and in the last budget we included a $58.3 million package for endometriosis and pelvic pain. We're supporting endometriosis research, creating awareness in the community, supporting medical professionals with best-practice guidelines and information for treating patients, and developing an endometriosis management plan that can be tailored to individual experiences.

Significantly, as committed, the government has now completed the rollout of 22 dedicated endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics across Australia, where women are listened to, believed and holistically supported in their journey to be pain free. There are now clinics in every state and territory that are supported by specialised GPs and professionals with experience in women's health and endometriosis. In my electorate of Newcastle, there is a demand for specialised endometriosis and pelvic pain services. I'm pleased that, through the funding this government has provided, we are working closely with our local public primary health network to support doctors in best-practice diagnostics, care and treatment and to better inform the community of this serious issue.

This is great news for the women of Newcastle, and I would like to acknowledge the work and advocacy of Newcastle councillor Peta Winney-Baartz. I'd also like to acknowledge Professor Pradeep Tanwar and his team, who, in their work with the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, are developing non-invasive treatments and early diagnostic tools that better treat and detect endometriosis and pelvic pain. I also want to acknowledge the work of Endometriosis Australia, who are great at raising awareness, pursuing advocacy and providing great resources and information.

I call on the House to support this motion. It's an important motion before us today, and I again thank both the member for Bendigo and the member for Lalor, and the work of the member for Forrest, for bringing this forward. This should be a multiparty supported motion. The women of Newcastle, Australia and, indeed, the world deserve to live pain free.


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