House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Ovarian Cancer

2:57 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Women. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is providing greater care and support to Australian women living with ovarian cancer and their families? Will the minister outline how the government is also acting to increase research so we can defeat this illness?

2:58 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Higgins for her question and her interest in this important policy area. February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. This is an important opportunity to educate Australians on ovarian cancer and to raise awareness by sharing stories of women and their families affected by the disease. Sadly, four Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each day, and it is estimated that more than 1,000 died from the disease last year.

Research remains our best hope of defeating ovarian cancer and of developing more effective diagnostic tools and treatments to prevent or control the disease. Over the last 10 years, successive governments have provided over $71 million for ovarian cancer research through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Additionally, $16.9 million from the Medical Research Future Fund has been invested in groundbreaking ovarian cancer projects. Our government also provides funding for a range of other measures to support women with ovarian cancer and their families, including the listing of life-saving and life-changing medications on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This includes the recent extension of the PBS listing of Lynparza, meaning an additional 300 Australian women with ovarian cancer each year will have access to a medicine that would otherwise cost $140,000 per course of treatment.

This morning in Parliament House, members had the privilege of hearing from an inspirational woman fighting ovarian cancer, Caitlin Delaney. Caitlin is in her early 40s, a mother of two daughters and an IVF scientist who was first diagnosed four years ago. The conviction and passion in her personal story spoke for all women suffering this cruel disease. She said, 'I have two beautiful daughters: Lilith, eight, and Willow, six. Neither of them can remember a time when they weren't being stalked by this frightening, invisible monster that sometimes makes their mummy so sick she can't move. My beloved husband, Kevin, has had to take a step back from the job he loves to care for me, to lift me when I can't stand, to comfort me when I wake up screaming in the night, to nurse my grief for what's lost.' Caitlin also told us the word 'impossible' has never meant less. She said, 'In the last year, a scary, strange year, I saw our country come together to achieve impossible things. It give me that ever-elusive hope. It told me that we can change the story of ovarian cancer.' It is for women like Caitlin that we continue to fund support services and research to eventually find the cure to something that once seemed impossible.

3:00 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—It was indeed my great honour to be there this morning as well with the Prime Minister and members of the government and from across the House. Caitlin Delaney, I am very proud to say, is one of my constituents. Her beautiful young girls from Stanwell Park Public School were there with their brave, courageous, magnificent mother, who gave quite an extraordinary speech. It was quite a moment in this House. I think it's available for people here and outside in the general public to look at. Ovarian cancer is something that hasn't got the same attention, perhaps, as breast cancer or prostate cancer. It is a debilitating disease. On both sides of parliament, we are all committed to taking action on it. I thank the minister for her response.