House debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Constituency Statements

Australian Health Humanitarian Aid

11:02 am

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As John Bunyan once said, 'You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.' These words certainly apply to a group in my community, the Australian Health Humanitarian Aid. This is a team of dedicated doctors, optometrists, dentists, volunteers and local Rotary clubs who have regularly travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia to treat the poor and those otherwise unable to obtain treatment.

On 13 August this year, a team of 60 volunteers travelled to Phnom Penh, performing hundreds of medical procedures for disadvantaged people in villages throughout Cambodia. These operations are free of charge and are made possible by local fundraising efforts and the generosity of sponsors, supporters and in particular our local Rotary clubs. With the help of their partner, the Cambodia International Sight Association, treatment was provided to hundreds of patients. Most of the dental patients were children from surrounding orphanages, some presenting with HIV and severe disability, and most had never seen a dentist before. The eye and dental teams operated from local hospitals and clinics. The patients came from far and wide. The waiting rooms were full of patients being prepared for eye surgery and dental procedures.

The teams travelled to remote villages in the Kandal province, providing medical examinations and treatment to local villages. AHHA also provided humanitarian parcels for people, consisting of food and blankets, while students received school accessories and school uniforms. In Phnom Penh the ophthalmology and dental teams conducted seminars, providing local medical practitioners with information on the latest procedures in their particular areas of specialisation. Because of the dedication and commitment of AHHA—the doctors, the nurses, the Rotary clubs of Liverpool West and Cabramatta and the volunteers—many Cambodians now have a new lease on life and a real future where they can once more be active and productive members of their villages and local communities. But, most importantly, they regained their self-esteem. During the two-week mission undertaken by AHHA, 424 eye surgeries were performed, as well as 1,140 dental procedures; 2,000 pairs of sunglasses and 100 pairs of prescription glasses were provided; and more than 5,000 medicines were dispensed.

There are many people responsible, but today I would like to give my thanks to Dr William Trinh, who heads the AHHA, and his dedicated team. They have made a profound difference by bettering people's lives.