Thanks very much to Paula, to Jane, to the incredibly courageous Trudy, and to people from all walks of life here. To my colleagues Kelly and Michaelia and Nola and Ken.
To the Leader of the Opposition, to Bill and his team, to Tanya and Catherine and others. I think that we’ve drawn across all party lines.
To Pauline and Sarah, and everybody here with me. We’re drawn together by a common cause, something of great power. So powerful that it can bring Bill and I together to wear teal ties on the same day.
But today is of course a story of sadness and hope. Sadness and hope. To look briefly for a moment at the broader issue of cancer before looking at ovarian cancer and in the future, cancer touches every Australian family ultimately.
We all know that. My family is amongst them. But the size and scale are daunting, the challenge is one we can deal with. We know that perhaps 134,000 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year.
We know that perhaps 47,000 Australians will lose that battle this year. Together, across the different sides, we’ve been able to support that battle with over $2 billion of research funding since 2000, across successive governments. But there’s more to be done.
Within the ovarian cancer space, exactly as Trudy says, this is the most significant cancer in terms of the degree of survival within the gynaecological cancers.
Fifteen hundred Australian women are likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. The survival rate is less than half, and as you say, 44 per cent are up from what it was 10 years ago, but only up a tiny bit.
So it’s a cancer which is an incredibly tough sentence, and there are stories which are hard, but dealt with in amazing courage, and then stories like Paula’s where we see the success.
I knew Jeannie Ferris, as many of us here did, and a beautiful soul and spirit, and somebody who fought courageously to the end.
Together we have put over $107 million into ovarian cancer research, but again, there’s more to be done.
And so as I turn to the future, about making sure that there is an awareness, and then with Ovarian Cancer Australia we’ll be sitting down later this morning to map out that future.
As I turn to the future in terms of treatment, I’m really pleased to be able to reaffirm today that only a few days ago I have been privileged of listing Olaparib on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
This is a drug that will help 237 women approximately in Australia this year in their battle with ovarian cancer. What would otherwise have been more than $100,000 a year, will now be available for $38.80 per script or $6.30 per script.
And that is the genius of the fight to list and to obtain drugs at available prices that change lives, which is a shared passion across all parts of the parliamentary world.
But none of that is ultimately a cure, and that cure is the last part of the task. It won’t happen overnight, but I gained the privilege on the weekend to announce the National Health and Medical Research Council grants.
As part of that, there is $39 million for cancer research. As part of that, there is $13 million which we announced for Peter MacCallum for their work into immunotherapy.
And what is immunotherapy? It’s teaching the body to turn on the T cells, to fight back against the cancer. This is the work of Macfarlane Burnet from 60 years ago made real today.
And we met people such as Jim and Kay who had incurable cancers with no other way forward. With this new treatment, with this new research, they’ve given them a breakthrough.
Not just an extension of life, but the ability to defeat it. It won’t play to everything. It won’t always work.
That is the way forward to provide these options. So we’ll work together. We pledge to work together.
I thank Trudy and everybody else for their work, and I am ultimately reminded in the ovarian cancer story of the words of Tennyson’s Ulysses: to strive, to seek, to find, but not to yield.