House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Endometriosis Awareness Month

12:21 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) March is Endometriosis Awareness Month;

(b) endometriosis is a progressive, chronic condition that can start at puberty and continue beyond menopause; and

(c) endometriosis affects one in nine Australian women and girls;

(2) acknowledges that the Government is addressing endometriosis at a national level via the National Plan for Endometriosis, which includes:

(a) $8.57 million for awareness and education;

(b) $49.65 million for clinical management and care; and

(c) $28.97 million for research; and

(3) congratulates the many endometriosis patients, their families, organisations and health sector leaders for their continued advocacy on endometriosis awareness and education.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It is a chance for all of us to stand not just in this place but with partners and allies across the community to raise awareness and education around endometriosis.

At the beginning of my contribution can I acknowledge two amazing endo warriors who really put this issue on the agenda in this place and nationally: the former member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, and the former member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint. This is one of those issues which is bipartisan—in fact, across the parliament we have come together. They were the founding co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Endometriosis Awareness and Education. I also acknowledge my co-chair of this group—we've inherited it from superstars Gai and Nicolle—the current member for Forrest. Nola and I are continuing Gai and Nicolle's legacy and making sure this place doesn't forget the importance of acting on endometriosis awareness. Later this week we will be holding a joint breakfast with Endometriosis Australia in helping to pursue their campaign in relation to this issue.

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue behaves unusually. The lining of the uterus starts to grow in locations that it shouldn't. It is a chronic condition that causes severe pain to at least one in nine women and girls in Australia. On average it takes about eight years to diagnose. Three out of 10 girls skip class because of painful periods. Some women with endometriosis are in so much pain that they give up work or studies. It's still one of those areas that some women and girls find quite embarrassing. Many girls say they thought the pain was usual. Many women who might be trying to get pregnant or couples who are going through fertility treatment don't find out until that stage that the woman has endometriosis and that it may affect their ability to fall pregnant—a devastating way to find out that that period pain that you've had has actually impacted your ability to have children.

In 2018 the parliament released and adopted the National Action Plan for Endometriosis, starting the journey of this place—both the previous government and this government—investing in the National Action Plan for Endometriosis. The government committed $22.5 million to support implementing this plan. Its priorities focused on awareness and education, clinical management and care, and research. About $6 million has gone towards awareness and education—the PPEP talks which have been quite popular in schools and are being rolled out in each state in partnership with the states. Also, funding has gone towards clinical management and care, and over $16 million has gone towards research.

This government committed to addressing endometriosis in its 2023 budget, and expanded the budget to $58.3 million to support more initiatives to help improve endometriosis diagnosis and primary care support. This includes funding MRIs for women who suspect that they have severe endometriosis that could be affecting their fertility. Another way in which the government is helping is by funding the endometriosis living guideline support and new and ongoing research into the diagnosis of the condition. This funding will continue support of EndoZone, a digital platform that provides patients with access to evidence based information. These are some of the many things this government is doing to support.

I acknowledge many of the true champions and organisations that support women and their families who believe they may have endometriosis or are trying to live with the chronic condition—people like Lesley and Sylvia Freedman, who are the co-founders of EndoActive, and Donna Ciccia, who is a co-founder and a board member of Endometriosis Australia. These are just two of the many organisations doing their bit. I will give my final shout-out to the Endo Warriors, who never forget or let us in this place forget our role to make sure that this is never again a forgotten issue or condition.

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

12:26 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bendigo moving this motion on endometriosis. It's an excellent opportunity for us to do exactly what Endometriosis Awareness Month is all about and continue to highlight and increase awareness throughout our community and society. So I obviously wholeheartedly support the motion and thank the member for the opportunity to contribute.

Whilst sometimes we might be glib about the attention we think there is in the community to discussions in the Federation Chamber, this is a great example of an opportunity for all of us not just to speak on this but also to push our own speeches and this debate out through all the communications channels that we've got, because it's a very important role for us as parliamentarians to provide leadership in this area. I really want to join the mover's commendation of the former member for Boothby and the former member for Canberra, Nicolle Flint and Gay Brodtmann. I never served with Gai Brodtmann, regrettably, but was always aware of the pioneering contribution she made to endometriosis awareness, particularly through my colleague, who I did serve with, Nicolle Flint, the former member for Boothby. They both have a lot they can reflect on in their careers, but I'm sure the work they did on endometriosis awareness is at least equal to some of the things they're most proud of in their legacy, because they absolutely should be. They've made an enormous difference.

I know, in serving in the Morrison government, when a whole range of initiatives were announced and funded and supported by that government, it was always pointed out by the then Prime Minister and the then health minister that it was the work of Nicolle Flint and Gay Brodtmann and others in the Labor Party that she worked with to make sure that in government there was awareness and action taken about how important it was to be doing more to support endometriosis awareness.

As has already been said, and as others will say, one of the most important things about endometriosis that is such an opportunity for all of us is that it has not been until recent years that it has had the attention it so rightly deserves. It is heartbreaking to be learning stories of people who have taken so long to be diagnosed with endometriosis very much because our society hasn't done as good a job as we are now, and that we can enhance into the future, in making sure that there is awareness of endometriosis and that potential sufferers have a much greater likelihood of getting earlier testing and screening that will identify that. Of course, that early testing screening can make such an enormous impact in treating and managing endometriosis as a health condition.

As a member of parliament I have certainly had experience hearing from members of my community and even friends of mine where their endometriosis has been discovered because of fertility challenges, and it has been at that point that they have for the first time in their life become aware that they have endometriosis. As the previous speaker indicated, it's something that, until that point, has had an unnecessary amount of ambiguity and therefore discomfort and probably even suffering, because it is an undiagnosed condition that once diagnosed opens up a whole range of opportunities to treat and manage.

So we in government need to always come together as much as we can in politics and in this parliament around causes like endometriosis awareness. I don't think anyone would suggest that what the current government is doing, what the previous government has done, is excellent progress, and equally an opportunity to improve upon even further. What we want is that bipartisanship and unity around causes like raising awareness around a condition like endometriosis, supporting each other and ensuring that we're playing our roles as community leaders on supporting endometriosis awareness, and also that governments and our bureaucracy are looking for opportunities to do even more than we already have done in the last few years thanks to the fact that we are all in unity raising these issues.

A final shoutout, as the mover did, to all of the groups and people in our community that are doing so much. They obviously, in particular, deserve the credit for raising levels of awareness. I want to be a part of continuing to support them and everyone in making sure that we continue to improve in this very important area of public health.

12:31 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to thank my friend the member for Bendigo for moving this motion. I'd also like to thank Gai Brodtmann, Nicolle Flint and Nola Marino for making this issue prominent in our parliament. I find in health that when we work in a bipartisan way we can often achieve many things, and I think we have. The funding as part of our 2022-23 budget that Greg Hunt has proposed, the $58 million, is really a terrific start.

This is a bit of a mea culpa for me. I've got six kids, and one of my daughters, Amelia, as it turned out, had quite severe endometriosis. But in a busy family of six kids with a father who is a doctor, it was very easy to ignore medical symptoms. I can't remember how many times I told her to be quiet, pack her bag, get in the car and we'd go to school, even though she was having severe abdominal pain. It wasn't until she left school, when she ended up actually in hospital, that the diagnosis of endometriosis was made.

Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, that's shed with every menstruation, occurs in unusual spots. It can occur in the fallopian tubes, which often causes infertility, and it can occur in the abdomen, which often causes involvement of the ovaries. It can cause severe abdominal pain and can be quite serious. To diagnose it, you must be aware of it. In the current days with Medicare premised on short consultations, it's sometimes difficult for doctors to diagnose endometriosis. But it remains a very common cause of infertility, a common case of days off work. Unless it is recognised, the treatment is very ineffective.

My daughter Amelia actually sorted it out herself and found a doctor who actually listened to her—unlike her father—and she was diagnosed with endometriosis. She did have some quite long-term symptoms and did have infertility for a number of years, and it wasn't until she had some surgery that she was able to have two absolutely gorgeous kids, Frankie and Mia. I'm very proud of her and proud of the journey that she's been on.

I really do feel for women in this situation over undiagnosed endometriosis. It really is a hidden disease. That's why this month is so important, not just because we're standing up as a parliament and saying, 'We hear you,' but because we're standing up as a parliament and saying: 'We will educate you and the community about this. We will provide help for you, and we understand what you've been going through.'

It's a very common disease. About one in nine women suffer from endometriosis, and, as I've said, it is a common cause of infertility and other health issues. The former Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, really started the ball rolling—I've got to give him credit as well—and now as part of our 2022-23 budget we're continuing that investment, including things like a Medicare funded MRI scan to help with the diagnosis because it's often intra-abdominal or intra-uterine, so it can be hard to diagnose. You need to think of it and assess it quickly so that treatment can be done before damage is caused.

The time has come that those suffering from endometriosis should not continue to suffer with the feeling that no-one is listening to them. We must do more to raise awareness of endometriosis and provide treatment that, in many ways, can save a lot of money by reducing dependence on IVF et cetera. We need to change the way our health system assesses women and women's health issues, because that is another issue. It's very easy for us to forget that women's health issues have been neglected for a long time. We need to make sure that endometriosis is part of the consideration for a doctor whenever they see a woman with problems with periods, recurrent abdominal pain, infertility, abdominal distention et cetera. That is really important. We must treat it properly, but we have to diagnose it first before we treat it.

I thank the Minister for Health and Aged Care and all of those involved, the so-called 'endo warriors', for the work that they've done. It is really, really important, for a large section of our population, to get proper treatment, early diagnosis and much, much better outcomes. Endometriosis Awareness Month is important, and it's imperative that each month we make better progress in understanding this disease to better support patients going forward.

12:36 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians) Share this | | Hansard source

It's an honour to follow my friend the member for Macarthur in this debate, and I acknowledge the very personal story that he told in his contribution. The member for Macarthur is much admired as a medical practitioner and as a parliamentarian around this place. The nature of his personal story indicates that, if someone with his distinction as a medical practitioner was not able to identify endometriosis, we as a society have much further to go in needing to encourage medical practitioners across the country to properly diagnose this issue. I want to acknowledge his work and the work of the members for Bendigo and Forrest, who, together with Nicolle Flint, Gai Brodtmann and me, were among the founders of the Parliamentary Friends of Endometriosis.

Seeing a photograph of Bindi Irwin in hospital recently, announcing her decade-long battle with endometriosis, will have caught the breath of many Australians, partly because of the realisation that this dynamic young woman with the world at her feet was suffering enormously despite her brave smile, and partly because many of us have seen exactly this sort of bravery and silent pain before, demonstrated by the amazing women that we love. My own wife, Joanna, is extraordinary in countless ways, but when it's come to her own battle with endometriosis, I've seen bravery and endurance that's nothing short of heroic. The ongoing pain, the surgeries and the question marks over fertility are very, very heavy burdens that don't last for weeks or months, but years. Endometriosis affects the lives of women dealing with it. Bindi's words, 'Please be gentle and pause before asking me, or any woman, when we'll be having more children,' ring very true.

Among our neighbours, friends and families, many women are quietly wondering what endometriosis will mean for their possibilities of family and what it will mean for their own body. Many others are silently living in the aftermath of surgeries, having organs removed and trying to deal with the debilitating pain they've lived with. For a condition that's only been historically spoken of rarely, endometriosis is actually very common, with one in nine Australian women suffering from it.

Endometriosis is a debilitating condition in which the endometrium, the tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grows outside and around the uterus or on other reproductive organs—the ovaries, the fallopian tubes—and, in extreme cases, on other parts of the body. The symptoms can vary significantly. For many women it means significant pain, nausea and, in some cases, infertility. It can also be present without those symptoms. This is perhaps one of the reasons why endometriosis diagnosis takes far longer than it should. According to Endometriosis Australia it takes on average six and a half years to be diagnosed. There are many misconceptions about the condition in the community. Too many Australian girls and women have suffered silently with endo, believing their severe period pain is normal or just part of being a woman. It's a particular problem, I think, in some multicultural communities where women's health issues remain a serious taboo. This is why raising awareness is essential: so that women no longer have to suffer without support where it's available. The sooner someone is treated, the sooner life can resume as normal.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It's an important opportunity for us to talk about the disease and encourage women to investigate if they think they might be affected. We also need to talk about it because recent research from universities has found that the lack of understanding is affecting many women in the workplace. The vast majority of women with endo who were surveyed report that endo has impacted their working life in some way: 70 per cent of women with endo have had to take time off work to manage the symptoms they deal with, and one in three of the survey respondents said they'd been overlooked for promotions because of the impact of endo on their working life. We are missing the talents of amazing women.

The estimated cost of endo in Australia each year is significant. A report released in 2019 estimated that endometriosis costs society $9.7 billion annually. The majority of that is not health care, but it's productivity related. For the women who are experiencing the pain of endo, that will be no surprise. The toll on their lives and bodies is inescapable. I want to say to any woman out there who's affected by endometriosis: there is help available. Don't suffer silently. Speak to your doctor, and if you don't make progress go and seek a second opinion.

I want to celebrate the progress we've made in recent years. I'm proud that when we were in government we invested record levels of funding in the care, diagnosis and treatment of people with endo. In 2022, Prime Minister Morrison announced $58 million of funding for MRI scans and the establishment of endometriosis treatment clinics, and I commend the Albanese government for continuing with the plan. I'm looking forward to seeing the clinics set up and running in due course. I want to also acknowledge all the advocates, the amazing endo warriors in this space, particularly my friend Syl Freedman from EndoActive, who I met when I first became a parliamentarian. Finally, I want to say something to the women who battle endometriosis. On behalf of your husbands, your partners and the people who love you: we think you're incredible. We think you're amazing. We love you and we want to support you in any way we can on this journey.

12:42 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, so it is appropriate that in the chamber today we stop to recognise this debilitating, and often hidden, chronic condition. Endometriosis affects one in nine women, hospitalising many thousands each year and taking young women out of the classroom, out of the workforce and out of their lives. I thank the member for Bendigo for this motion, which highlights just how devastating it is to be inflicted with this progressive, chronic condition that can start at puberty and continue beyond menopause.

The Albanese government acknowledges the pain and hardship that endometriosis can cause, the historical challenges associated with delays in diagnosis, and the past ignorance and judgement that many women have experienced. It's time to do better. Women should not have to endure the excruciating pain, loss and guilt that come with inaction. The Albanese government hears you and we are acting, with the introduction of the National Action Plan for Endometriosis.

This plan acts on the words of young women, like Charlotte Mullens, who lives in my region. Women want better and simpler diagnosis and treatment as well as support and greater awareness about the condition. Charlotte said to me in a letter:

What I want our new parliament to achieve is tangible progress to support change in endometriosis treatments … research into cutting-edge treatments recognising genetic markers—


… education programs to support young people to spot the signs of gynaecological diseases.

The plan responds to Charlotte's plea, with $9 million for greater awareness and education, $50 million for physical management and care, and $21 million for further research. This builds on reforms included in the 2022-23 budget with $58 million to improve endometriosis diagnosis and primary care support, helping more women to find appropriate care and better manage the impacts of endometriosis.

Importantly, the package also includes the establishment of specialised GP clinics across Australia, including one in my region. This clinic will address diagnosis delays, promoting early access to intervention, care and treatment options for endometriosis and pelvic pain. Other investments include access to a new Medicare funded magnetic resonance imaging scan, to assist the investigation of infertility for those with severe endometriosis and other conditions;a review of Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme items used to support the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis; the development of an endometriosis plan to support patients in primary care; support to the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network to continue the important research and address research gaps; funding for an endo living guideline to support new and ongoing research into diagnosis and management; promotion of the Australian clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of endometriosis; funding to the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis for increasing awareness amongst priority populations; implementing a mentors program to support those who are newly diagnosed; a workplace assistance program to support employees and employers navigate discussions in the workplace; and continued support for the EndoZone digital platform to provide consumer access to evidence based information.

In the words of Charlotte Mullens: you have the power to change the reality for people with endometriosis. We have heard you, Charlotte. We hear all the endometriosis warriors who have fought for greater recognition for treatment of this debilitating condition. It is because of you that the Albanese government is now making groundbreaking reform to better support women with endometriosis. May the reforms we make today ensure it is no longer a hidden disease.

12:46 pm

Photo of Matt BurnellMatt Burnell (Spence, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today in this place to speak in support of the motion of my good friend and colleague the member for Bendigo. I would also like to acknowledge all speakers on this matter today and their substantial contributions to this discussion. Today I speak in relation to my experience in watching my wife deal with the realisation that she had been living with this invisible disease for some time, completely unaware of what was happening to her body. As many in this place would understand, there is our public life and there is our private life. Those who know me well know I hold my private life close. From the outset I would like to acknowledge the trust my wife has placed in me to tell our story today.

Three and a half years ago my wife, Cassandra, and I said 'I do', getting married surrounded by our family and closest friends. Like many couples, we had a dream of having our own little family, and, given we were both in our early 40s, we knew we had no time to waste in doing so. After months of failed conception we started IVF treatment to assist in the process and hopefully realise our dream. For those that have experienced this, there is not much that isn't discussed, probed or tested to give you the best chance at becoming parents. This would be the time that we would first learn Cassandra had endometriosis. Unfortunately, without cover for private health insurance and with long public hospital wait times for surgery, we reluctantly pushed ahead hoping for the best in what would ultimately result in two unsuccessful rounds of IVF.

When Cassandra finally was able to have surgery, we would learn that the endometriosis was quite severe and had caused organs to stick together. This was not a case of irritable bowel syndrome due to stress; the tearing sensation in her lower abdomen when she coughed was not in her head; it was a very real yet invisible disease. It was a chronic disease, endometriosis. Following surgery, there was a period of mental and physical relief from the symptoms she had been experiencing. Fast forward 12 months, with one last viable embryo, we undertook another round of IVF, albeit unsuccessful yet again.

To our surprise, shortly following my election to this place, we would learn that we had naturally conceived, but our excitement would be short lived. We experienced a miscarriage at approximately nine weeks. This was not long after I gave my first speech. The time following this was of great difficulty. Was the nausea, the bloating and the feeling of sickness all in her head following the miscarriage, or was it something more sinister? We would soon discover endometriosis had been invisibly taking over yet again. While waiting to see the specialist, I watched my wife try to push through the pain, try to push through the nausea and try to push through the fatigue. This often ultimately meant taking time off work because no amount of trying to push through it would make it go away.

Exhausted from dealing with the pain, and after further tests, the specialist would recommend urgent surgery. This surgery occurred only a week and a half ago—as if determined by fate itself—during Endometriosis Awareness Month. This time we had the talented robotic surgeon, Dr Sellva Paramasivam, and others on standby if anything were to go wrong. It resulted in the removal of the right ovary, which was completely covered in endometriosis and had a five-centimetre endometrioma, or chocolate cyst. The left ovary remains attached to the bowel due to the extremely high risk of extensive damage occurring if detachment had been attempted.

My wife and I understand that we are extremely fortunate to be in the position to have private health insurance and to be able to cover the further out-of-pocket expenses to have this surgery at the Flinders Private Hospital. Unfortunately, many simply cannot afford the same level of treatment we have received. My wife's journey with endometriosis is far from over, but we are hopeful.

Our government has committed $49.65 million for clinical management and care, $28.97 million for research and $8.57 million for awareness and education. One in nine women, girls and those assigned female at birth are estimated to be affected by endometriosis. My wife's story is but one of the approximately 800,000 cases of those affected by the disease. Whilst our government's commitments are fantastic, there is still much more to be done.

12:52 pm

Photo of Zoe McKenzieZoe McKenzie (Flinders, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

According to Endometriosis Australia, there are 830,000 endometriosis patients in Australia. Almost 220,000 of these are in my home state of Victoria. According to the ABS, there are 87,640 women in Flinders, so, by deduction, some 6,000 Flinders women suffer from endometriosis. For women who do not suffer from it, little is known about it; for those who do, it is both life changing and life dominating, starting early in life and enduring throughout most of it.

The coalition has a proud history of delivering record funding to improve the diagnosis, care and treatment of more than 800,000 women with endometriosis. The former government was the first to acknowledge and recognise endometriosis and its impacts on women across our country, much of which was spearheaded by my predecessor, Greg Hunt, led by his excellent policy adviser at the time, Ms Briony Hutton. Since then, Briony has been a constant advocate for women suffering endometriosis, no more so than in Hastings, within the Flinders electorate, which she sought to represent at the last Victorian election, losing by only a few hundred votes. I had the chance to reach out to Briony over the weekend and talk to her about endometriosis. In turn, she reached out to a close friend who has suffered from endometriosis for some time and who gave me permission to read out her story, so I will.

The story is that of Bethany Toporzisek, from my electorate of Flinders. I'm able to share her story of endometriosis today. Bethany grew up with her family in Somerville and attended school in Tyabb. At age 26, after exploring every corner of the peninsula and travelling through Europe, she now works as an artisan baker at Flinders Sourdough. At the age of 20, Bethany had her first laparoscopic surgery to determine the cause of chronic and severe pain she had been experiencing for several years in her pelvis, lower back and upper thigh, along with painful digestive complications. When she thought she was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, she was, to her surprise, diagnosed with endometriosis. Bethany's eventual surgical diagnosis finally made sense of her symptoms and equipped her with the knowledge to seek help. She still suffers from symptoms of endo but has become passionately diligent about her diet and exercise as a way of managing her chronic illness. The average endo diagnosis takes anywhere between seven and 10 years. Bethany hopes that by sharing her story she can encourage other young women experiencing unusual period and digestive symptoms to not accept this as normal and to seek professional help.

More than $333 million was budgeted in the 2022-23 budget to strengthen health services and make more support available to women and girls through a range of new initiatives, including a focus on endometriosis. As part of this investment, the former government committed $58 million—the largest funding for endometriosis on record, in fact—to support women experiencing endo and improve their quality of life, building on the National Action Plan for Endometriosis to ensure women are diagnosed and supported in the best way possible. It is quite remarkable that a disease that affects so many Australian women was so misunderstood and shrouded in ignorance.

This month is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Held in March each year, it raises important awareness of this painful and debilitating condition. Incredible organisations, like Endometriosis Australia, play a vital role in supporting patients throughout their endo journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. They are also a wealth of information and provide connections to various support groups around the country.

The 2018 national action plan describes endometriosis as a chronic disease that occurs when cells similar to those that line a woman's uterus grow in other parts of her body, usually around the pelvis, and less commonly in tissues and organs outside it. It is a highly individualised disease, with the symptoms and impact of the disease ranging significantly from person to person. The coalition remains profoundly committed to helping to improve the quality of life for an extraordinary number of Australian women and girls living with endo.

12:57 pm

Photo of Jenny WareJenny Ware (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on this motion and thank the honourable member for Bendigo for bringing this motion before the House. Endometriosis is very important to women's health. It is a common yet frequently under-recognised chronic disease that affects more than 11 per cent of, or 830,000, Australian women and girls. Often, the disease starts in teenage years. On average, it takes 6½ years for endometriosis to be diagnosed. Clinically, endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus or womb grows outside the uterus. It is a painful and debilitating condition that often leads to severe chronic pain and, in many cases, infertility. Whilst endometriosis most often affects the reproductive organs, it is frequently found in the bowel and bladder and has been found in muscles, joints, the lungs and the brain. In a recent Australian government report, endometriosis was reported to cost Australian society over $9 billion annually, with two-thirds of these costs attributed to a loss in productivity and with the remainder, approximately $2.5 billion, being direct healthcare costs.

The coalition recognises the devastating impact of this chronic inflammatory condition and its profound effect on health, fertility, education and employment outcomes for women and girls across Australia. The former coalition government was the first government to acknowledge and recognise endometriosis and the impact it has on Australian women. To that end, in 2018, the former coalition government launched the National Action Plan for Endometriosis, a blueprint to improve the treatment, health, understanding and awareness of the condition, with the ultimate aim being to find a cure. The coalition therefore welcomes the Albanese government's decision to uphold the former coalition government's March budget measure to invest over $16 million to establish endometriosis and pelvic pain GP clinics in primary care settings, improving access to diagnostic treatment and other support services for women living with endo. While we commend the government on the implementation of significant initiatives, we will continue to call on the government and hold it to account to implement the coalition's $58 million package in full, including the remaining measures, as well as ongoing support for women experiencing endo.

It is vital that women with endometriosis have access to resources to make informed choices about their health and that doctors are provided with clinical guidance to provide the best possible treatment plans. The coalition recognises the importance of Endometriosis Awareness Month, held in March each year, in raising awareness of this painful and debilitating condition. The coalition also recognises the incredible work of organisations like Endometriosis Australia, which play an integral role in supporting patients throughout their endometriosis journey, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

The coalition remains profoundly committed to helping to improve the quality of life for the extraordinary number of Australian women and girls living with endometriosis. In that regard, I particularly mention my sister, Jacqui, who has suffered from this debilitating condition for many years.

Photo of Alicia PayneAlicia Payne (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.