Tuesday, 21 August 2018
I rise to speak about endometriosis. But, before I do that, I want to associate myself with the previous speaker's comments about Depot Company. I was an instructor with Depot Company back in the day, and it was a great privilege to train Australian soldiers.
I want to thank the member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, and the member for Forrest, Nola Marino, for their years of fighting to raise awareness of endometriosis and the debilitating impact it has on women across Australia. Their work inspired me to consider how we can better support women suffering from endo in Darwin and Palmerston in Top End. I spoke in this chamber and then I reached out to those women in our community who are suffering from endo.
Through this journey I had the privilege of meeting Libby Schoch, an amazing Territorian who suffers from endo. I want to congratulate and thank Libby for taking on the crucial role of NT coordinator of Endo Australia and for her passion and commitment to improving services and support for Territory women with endo. Libby and I recently held a roundtable in Darwin to hear from Territory women about their experiences and the challenges that they face living with endo. The group described how the debilitating pain and lack of community awareness about endo impact their lives, their ability to participate in family activities, their ability to exercise and their ability to work. They talked about the often crippling financial impact, the difficulty accessing pain relief or being accused of being a drug seeker, and the impact that all of this has on their mental and emotional wellbeing and that of their families. It is difficult to comprehend the frustration, anguish and sense of hopelessness that these women have endured from years, in many cases, of not being taken seriously, being turned away from emergency departments, the gaps in the continuity of care and the challenges they've encountered accessing services and expertise necessary to manage their complex cases. We need to do better.
On Saturday, 8 September, Libby will host the inaugural meeting of the Darwin Endo Support Group at my office in Casuarina, in Darwin. I hope that this can be the first step in building a dedicated support network for Territory women suffering from endo. We sometimes underestimate the powerful effect that a small group of committed individuals can have, and I'm confident that, with their willingness to work together, the Darwin Endo Support Group will raise awareness of endo across government, healthcare professionals and the broader Territory community. From the generosity of them sharing their stories and from talking to health professionals, I'm sure that we all want to do better and support these women the best that we can.