Thursday, 14 February 2019
Community Affairs References Committee; Report
I present an interim report of the Community Affairs References Committee on the support for Australia's thalidomide survivors. I move:
That the Senate adopt the recommendation contained in the interim report to extend the time for the presentation of the report of the committee to 22 March 2019.
I want to make a few brief comments. I recognise that we have so many reports today that I can't do justice to this report and to thalidomide survivors. This report contains seven substantive recommendations around actions that can be taken now to support thalidomide survivors. One is to extend the date for the committee to report, as I just moved.
We all know the tragedy from the fifties and early sixties that has struck so many Australians. We found that the health of thalidomide survivors is still suffering, that the effects of thalidomide are still being felt, that there are ongoing health issues and that people have early onset ageing. There is absolutely a need for more supports. The committee has made seven recommendations around what can be done now. We've also found substantial evidence around the need to revisit the issue of compensation. We are asking for an extension so that we can investigate those issues, because we have a lot of unanswered questions that we need to address. So I urge the chamber to accept the recommendation.
Please read this report. This is an absolutely vital issue. Before finishing, I would like to give a shout-out to the Thalidomide Group Australia, who have done so much to raise this issue. I really thank them hugely for the work they've put in to date. I'm sorry that we can't table the final report, but we want to do justice to the issues that have been raised with us, because they are so important. To all thalidomide survivors, I say thank you for the work that you have put into this committee to show us and demonstrate the need for further work. Of course, as always, thank you to our secretariat who, as always, have gone above and beyond. I urge all in this chamber to consider these recommendations and work with government.
Question agreed to.