House debates

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Constituency Statements

Petition: Feeding Tube Dependency

4:05 pm

Photo of Duncan KerrDuncan Kerr (Denison, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to present a petition, the principal petitioner being Karelle Logan, a constituent of mine. The petition has 3,155 signatories and relates to a circumstance that I think all members of this House would personally find quite moving: young infants and children who, for medical reasons and conditions, must be fed through a tube. This is a circumstance that Karelle Logan herself faced as a mother. It is obviously a distressing one. The question she raises in this petition is the availability of what is known as the Graz model of tube weaning, which is a means being sought by the petitioners to encourage the withdrawal of tube feeding and the substitution of oral intake of nutrition and hydration.

These are obviously complex issues, but as the petitioners—who are extremely concerned about this distressing circumstance that most of us fortunately never need to face—say: if a child is presented with all the food and drink they require through a tube and there is no effective means of removing the tube, it becomes extremely difficult. This is an early intervention strategy which the petitioners recommend this House investigate—the numbers of children who are in this circumstance and the effectiveness of the Graz strategy—and initiate support in the health system to research and implement intensive weaning programs based on that model.

I hope that all members of this House understand that, whilst these are issues that, fortunately, most of us just do not have to confront, it is immensely traumatic for the parents who are confronted by them. These issues are immensely time consuming to the parents who have the care of children in these circumstances. This is a heartfelt plea on behalf of 3,155 petitioners—in particular, my constituent Karelle Logan, who is the principal petitioner—for the attention of this House to this distressing circumstance, for it to look at and support an innovative early-intervention strategy. I thank the House and I present the petition on behalf of the principal petitioner and the 3,155 signatories.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of certain concerned citizens of Australia Draws to the attention of the House:

The inadequate knowledge, research and health services, relating to prevention and treatment of feeding tube dependency, in infancy and early childhood in Australia’s Health System Feeding Tube Dependency is an undesired side effect of tube feeding. This dependency leaves an infant, child and their family trapped on a round about of tube feeding with no desire to eat and drink orally. he current therapy approaches are clearly not working. The Graz Model of tube weaning from Austria is becoming internationally recognized as the only way to rapidly wean children from their tube dependency. This treatment needs to be available in Australia.

We therefore ask the House to investigate:

  • The numbers of tube fed infants and children in Australia, and their level of tube dependency.
  • The financial cost of long-term tube feeding on a family and the Australian Health System.
  • The emotional and psychological effect on families with a tube fed child.
  • The reason tube feeding is being more frequently used in our Health System, rather than intensive support for oral feeding.
  • Why there is no comprehensive exit strategy for individuals to remove the tube once the purpose has been served.
  • Why there is currently no recognition by relevant therapists and experts that tube dependency is a major problem for children and their families in Australia.
  • Initiating support in our Health System to start researching and implementing intensive weaning programs, based on the Graz Model of Tube Weaning from Austria.

from 3,155 citizens

Petition received.