Federal politicians gathered at Parliament House in Canberra today to take part in one of the largest fund-raising events in the country - Australia's Biggest Morning Tea.
Last year more than a million Australians took part in this event, raising almost $9 million for cancer research and initiatives to support people living with cancer.
The official date for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, an initiative of the Cancer Council Australia, is May 22. However, events are taking place throughout May and the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, has urged all Australians to get involved.
One in three men and one in four women will be directly affected by cancer before they reach the age of 75. And by 85, that risk increases to one in two for men and one in three for women.
The 2007 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Cancer in Australia: an overview revealed that in 2006 there were an estimated 106,000 new cases of cancer in Australia and 39,200 deaths.
"The Australian Government is committed to reducing the burden of cancer and improving support for people living with cancer. We are particularly focused on prevention," said Minister Roxon. "Screening programs such as BreastScreen Australia and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program have proven effective in the fight against these types of cancer. This week's Budget included an additional $87.2 million over the next 3 years to expand the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program."
From July 1, this program will now offer testing to people turning 50, 55 or 65 years of age between 2008 and 2010. Up to 2.5 million people will be invited to participate in the program over the next 3 years.
Ms Roxon said the government was also providing:
- $15 million for trials of drugs and research into cancer treatments and care
- $5.1 million for the ongoing work of the National Centre for Gynaecological Cancers
- $15 million towards the construction of a new Children's Cancer Centre at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide; and
- $15 million towards establishing six cancer centres for adolescents and young adults across Australia.
To support women with breast cancer, the Government has committed $12 million to the McGrath Foundation for the recruitment, training and employment of 30 new breast cancer nurses across Australia and $23.9 million to provide reimbursement of up to $400 for new and replacement external breast prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomy as a result of breast cancer.
The Government has also committed to establishing two dedicated prostate cancer research centres and providing funding towards establishing integrated cancer care facilities, including the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne and the Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.