Thursday, 18 October 2018
O'Connor Electorate: Radiation Therapy
Albany needs a radiation therapy unit for those people affected by cancer. The people of Albany in the Great Southern know it, the local health professionals know it and the federal government, through the Department of Health, know it. On the basis of a thorough needs assessment, the government has granted $6.6 million to Genesis Cancer Care to install a radiation oncology treatment machine in Albany.
Genesis Cancer Care provide up to 65 per cent of the radiation therapy across Western Australia. They have a very thorough track record of providing a wonderful service. In Western Australia they provide services in Perth and in Bunbury. But the people of the Great Southern, including my home community of Katanning, have to travel up to 400 kilometres to receive treatment. That means dislocation from family, much higher costs than other people in the community have to bear and, sadly, as I was told when I met with a group of doctors last week, some people opting not to accept treatment.
I met with Genesis Cancer Care in late June to find out how the progress of the installation was going. They told me that they need some support from the Western Australian government to make this machine viable. I undertook to contact the WA Minister for Health, Roger Cook, to facilitate a meeting and try to bring this installation about. I wrote to the minister in August, and to this point I've had no response. So I invited Minister Greg Hunt to Albany. He came a couple of weeks ago, and we met with a group of stakeholders, including the remarkable Mary Williams, who's been running this campaign for many years now. We were joined by Soroptimists International, the Denmark Community Foundation, and Mayor Dennis Wellington of the city of Albany and his CEO, Andrew Sharpe. We made a strong commitment as a group that we were going to fight to get this machine installed in the Great Southern. To that end I have started a petition, which can be accessed on my Facebook page. We will be gathering signatures between now and when we see a commitment from the Western Australian government to assist in the installation of this machine.
Yesterday, I met with members of the Radiation Therapy Advisory Group here in Canberra. They expressed their support for a unit in Albany. I met with Genesis Cancer Care, Associate Professor Peter O'Brien, and also with Cancer Voices advocate Lee Hunt, who will be joining our call to muster community support. Today I send a strong message to Minister Cook: we will not stop fighting. The people of Albany and the people of the Great Southern will not stop fighting until he comes forward with some support to install this machine in the Great Southern.