I also wish to make some comments on the government response. I welcome the government's response to our inquiry into gynaecological cancer, and I also note that the government response came in a very timely fashion-within a six-month period. In my short time here, I think that is unprecedented. Also unprecedented is a government response which has been so largely positive to the 34 recommendations the committee put forward . Some of that must be brought home to the amazing efforts of Senator Jeannie Ferris. She said in her contribution that she was going to cease bothering the minister. I think the senator could be misleading the Senate with that particular statement. I hope she is, because I think that her passionate support of the women who are working through this process, their families and also the extraordinarily talented and dedicated professionals who work in this area, and her particular method of bothering the minister, have been instrumental in making sure that the government response has come forward.
We had no recommendation rejected by the government, amazingly enough. We referred several recommendations back to the states and territories-quite rightly, I think, because so much of the health and education process and the involvement of people in their health journeys must be a cooperative response between the patients, families, medical practitioners and governments at both state and federal levels. In many ways, that was the message of this particular inquiry: people must work together, because the only way that we will achieve what we hope to achieve in this area is for governments to work together and for us to be genuinely woman-focused-because this particular form of cancer is a woman's cancer.
In many ways, the response today is a testament to the extraordinary women who gave of their time and experience and came forward with their evidence to our committee. They also came forward with their expectations, because they told us that they expected their governments to respond. Now we have a level of response at the first round from the government and I say, 'Come forward, Cancer Australia.' More than half of the recommendations refer to the actions we must now take with the effective implementation of Cancer Australia. We know that can occur, but we will be watching. Indeed, there must be a focus on hearing people's voices on their treatment and on ensuring that there are effective research dollars given. We now must work together so that the horror of gynaecological cancer is faced, identified, researched and cured. That outcome can be achieved.
I think that as a parliament we must now ensure that the work that has been put forward is fulfilled. I know that there is goodwill. There were a number of recommendations on combining services and putting forward effective research. It came out consistently that the research dollars available in this area had not reflected the need. We will now have a focus for our efforts: there will be a centre whose major activity will be around issues to do with gynaecological cancer-those issues will no longer be lost or dismissed amidst all the other arguments that come forward when we talk about cancer in our community-and it will work within the auspices of Cancer Australia. We have the expectation that this will succeed. We will work together to ensure it will be done and we will be able to look to the women who came forward and say, 'We've heard you. Your voices have been heard and there will be a move forward.'
I will be talking later tonight about National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week, which is this week, and Senator Ferris mentioned the importance of awareness and education. I want to place on the record, because I promised them that I would, my support for the women from the Lymphedema Network. I think there is much more work to be done in that area. I believe that the government response, which looks at a limited number of treatments being covered by Medicare, does not go far enough. But we will be able to continue the pressure to ensure that we can go forward. As Senator Ferris quite rightly said, this is a start. We have the process to move forward.
I want to congratulate again the women who made sure that this inquiry occurred, because it was not something that was rushed out in the agenda. It took pressure and also the work of Senator Lyn Allison-
Senator Ferris-Hear, hear!
Senator MOORE-with her roundtable of women from Victoria. Those women need to be acknowledged. I think the voices of Margaret Heffernan and her supporters need to be acknowledged. Once again, this is not the end. We have had the government response. There were 34 recommendations and not one was rejected. I would like to have that on record over and over again. There is money-$1 million in seed funding. I have to admit that, when the committee was meeting on this issue, we wondered whether in fact we would be able to achieve that, but it has been achieved. We have it in black and white: the government accepts this recommendation of $1 million of seed funding money. Through the processes of this place we will be making sure that the money is spent well, that Cancer Australia maintains the activity that it began quite recently and that the women of Australia will be feeling more confident when they have this issue brought before them.
27 February, 2007