Wyong Hospital Cancer Care Unit
Mr CRITTENDEN (Wyong—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.10 p.m.]: I am pleased to tell the House about the opening of the cancer care unit at Wyong Hospital last Monday, 3 December, by Craig Knowles, the Minister for Health. It was a very important day for the entire Wyong shire community. My colleague the honourable member for Swansea, Milton Orkopoulos, was present, as was the Federal Member for Shortland and the former member for Swansea, Jill Hall.
I say it was an important day in the life of the entire Wyong shire community because it was attended by people representing just about every social, religious and community organisation in the Wyong shire. I do not intend to try to name everyone who was there, but an extensive list of organisations and individuals brought the community together in raising the $1.1 million for the project. That sort of public fundraising in an electorate such as mine is testimony to the sense of community there is in the shire, as well as to the commitment of the people of Wyong shire to the health care they deserve.
As I said when I introduced the Minister to the gathering, it was no small measure that we were able to convince the Treasurer that the Government should spend $90 million on upgrading Wyong Hospital—but that was the result of all those meetings, all the press clippings, all the people who shaved their heads, and the many and various community groups that raised funds for this very worthwhile project. I hope the Premier will have the opportunity to visit Wyong Hospital in the near future, because I believe it is worthy of one of his design awards for excellence. With its extensive use of glass, it is certainly not the usual sort of hospital building. I am not a great fan of architecture, but I am prepared to concede that a great job has been done on this unit. The building is very open, with its high ceilings. It is not like a hospital or institution. Obviously, the people who attend the hospital are very ill, but it is certainly a very pleasant facility and the Wyong community is very proud of it.
In recognition of the fact that the entire community came together, it was important that two girls from Gorokan High School who recently completed year 12, Jessica Foy and Kylie Streater, provided musical entertainment with their expert flute-playing prior to the commencement of the official ceremony. Theirs was a very important contribution because it was representative of the many young people and students who raised funds for this important project. Dollars and cents are not insignificant, but ultimately heath facilities are about helping people—the human aspect. Although the project cost $1.1 million to build, it will require recurrent funding of $580,000 each year. That is a massive commitment by the State Government.
I have a young man working with me at present, Jordan Race, who was born and grew up in the area and attended local schools. Jordan's grandmother has had to travel to Gosford to receive chemotherapy. She will now be able to access this unit at the Wyong campus and all the expertise she requires: the oncologists, nursing staff and other professionals. This will save her around an hour and a half to two hours travel a day. For people who are ill, it is very important to be able to access health care services locally. I certainly hope we can find a cure for the debilitating illness of cancer in the longer term, but in the meantime this unit is very important to the Wyong shire.
Mr MARKHAM (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.15 p.m.]: I acknowledge the comments of the honourable member for Wyong. It is great to hear that the Wyong community has got together and raised $1.1 million for such a worthwhile project. That is no mean feat for an area with such a large working-class population. I congratulate everyone who was involved in raising the money for the project. To have such a service in the home town of the honourable member for Wyong will be of immeasurable comfort for people suffering from cancer who need to access chemotherapy, radiology and other services. Travelling any distance whatsoever is very difficult for people with cancer. This facility right in the middle of Wyong will significantly improve the quality of life of the people who need those services, and I congratulate the honourable member for Wyong on bringing the matter to the attention of the House.