Friday, May 27, 2016

Got cancer? Will you die? Depends who gets your vote

The announcement today by the Nationals that a re-elected Liberal-National Government will provide half of the total funding required to bring cancer services to the people of Western NSW galls me.

Why the heck are cancer treatment services linked to how people vote? Surely everyone who has cancer deserves to get the best access to vital treatment whether they vote for the winning party or not.

There have been a few other health and treatment related election promises already this campaign by various parties and they all make my blood boil.

Why is the planning for services to Australia's population reduced to a rabble during election campaigns? Surely health and medical professionals, health bureaucracies and myriad other well-informed people know which health facilities are required and where they should be located to meet the needs of the population. Why does funding for these vital services and facilities depend on any particular party winning an election?

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, s.326(1) and (2) Bribery, "Election campaign declarations of public policy or promises of public action are not regarded as bribery."

Such promises do, however, have a certain stench because the threat is that if you do not vote for the party, the money will be withheld.

According to this media release, the Liberal-National team recognises there are "critical services gaps in cancer care for people in the Western NSW region, particularly for diagnosis and radiotherapy treatment" and patients are "choosing death over treatment for cancer as the physical and emotion [sic] costs of obtaining treatment is such an enormous burden".

Too bad if someone other than the Liberal-National candidate wins. Too bad for the tens of thousands of people who will miss out on treatment and die prematurely. Shocker of a way to go, voting the "wrong" way.

A re-elected Liberal-National Government will provide half of the total funding required to bring cancer services to the people of Western NSW, contributing $25 million towards a new Integrated Cancer Centre.
The new purpose built, specialist cancer treatment facility will be located at the Dubbo Base Hospital and will allow residents in the Western NSW region to access critical cancer care, closer to where they live.
The centre will provide specialist medical and radiation oncology services as well as a PET scanning service.
The approximately $50 million project will address critical service gaps in cancer care for people in the Western NSW region, particularly for diagnosis and radiotherapy treatment.
Announcing the commitment this morning, Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce said the commitment demonstrates the Liberal-National Party’s commitment to the health of rural and regional Australians.
“It’s a basic fact that rural and regional Australians don’t have access to the same range of health services as those living in urban locations. It’s also a fact that rural and remote communities experience higher rates of premature death, mortality and chronic disease.
“This new centre demonstrates our strong commitment to improve the health and life expectancy of people living outside of the major cities.”
Minister for Rural Health and Deputy Leader of the National Party, Senator Fiona Nash said the new centre will mean locals in need of treatment will spend less time travelling and more time closer to home with their families and loved ones.
“Living in rural NSW, I know it’s hard to be away from home for long periods. Doing so while battling cancer is unimaginable.
“It’s hard enough to learn of a cancer diagnosis, but it’s heart breaking when a patient has to leave their home and spend weeks and months away from their family during a traumatic period. This new Cancer Centre will mean more people can receive the best possible treatment, much closer to home. The Coalition Government aims to help build regional communities our children and grandchildren want to either stay in or come back to, and first-class health services are a big part of that.”
Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton welcomed the announcement after a long campaign and thanked the local community for their sustained advocacy.
“This announcement is the culmination of hard work and incredible passion shown by the community. We have been fighting tooth and nail to deliver this critical funding to our community for many years. I am proud that a Liberal-National Government are the ones getting on with the job of delivering vital cancer care services for the people of Western NSW. The people in our region deserve access to specialist healthcare regardless of where we live,” Mr Coulton said.
“The new centre won’t just service locals in Dubbo, it will provide critical care to more than 270,000 people who live across Western NSW who up until now have had to travel far and wide to receive treatment.
“It’s a stark reality that many people are choosing death over treatment for cancer, as the physical and emotion costs of obtaining treatment is such an enormous burden. This new centre will go a long way to easing that burden.
“The statistics also back our case. Between 2006 and 2021 there will be a 43% growth in the number of new cases of cancer in the Western NSW health region. Unless new services are provided, people in dire need will miss out.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

I woke this morning to grey skies and the rain fell all day. It's Mother's Day and the firstborn is not at home. We spoke and he is doing so well.

Miss B made me the most beautiful card and wrote a message that carries wisdom way beyond her years. Some of you may know of the ups and downs of recent months. The difficulty in finding a full-time job, the firstborn leaving home (for a good reason), and most recently, the death of my father-in-law and then on the day of his funeral, the death of my Grandad.

Throw into the mix the former family home being on the market and any one of these life events could be the undoing of a lesser being. But as I keep hearing, I am strong, and you know what? I believe it now.

In coming weeks I may keep a close eye on the election campaign and write some blogs but if any one of those Coalition politicians mentions "jobs and growth" as many times as Matthias Cormann did on Sky News tonight I may not.

If you are going to live in the awful climate of Canberra you may as well work in the big house on the hill. I did, in the Press Gallery, and when that ended, took a job with a senator. I shocked a few folk with that move. I did it as an exercise in employment and life education. I learned so very much about politics and how wonderful some people can be and how horrible others are. I also made some lifelong friends.

With the benefit of hindsight I don't think I would do it again. I liked the processes and procedures of Parliament and felt that I did good work, but the fragile egos of politicians would not last five minutes in a newsroom.

In recent months I've been seeking full-time employment but that has remained elusive. It seems these days how one fits in with the team is more important than any ability or experience. It's like they want clones of themselves. Fantastic, clone away that's not me.

I'm painting and sewing and creating and figuring it all out.

We all do our very best.

All the love.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May days

Sunrise, 2 May 2016, southern NSW

I woke this morning at 3am, annoyed to be awake. After tossing and turning for more than an hour I fell into a deep slumber, waking at 7 feeling completely shattered.

There's a bit going on at the moment. As I've been saying, I'm dealing with five life events at once. It's like five roller coasters in slow motion all moving along a straight line. They are never in synch. One may be hurtling towards the ground as another gains upward momentum. Another will be resting between dips and drops.

If there is one life event that takes priority for me (and this does not discount the seriousness of the rest of them) it's the firstborn joining the armed forces. I'm not saying which one because there's a total media blackout on anything to do with him. In the limited time he's been there he is doing well.

The other life events are the terminal illness of my father-in-law, the old age of my Grandad, the ex family home going on the market and my ongoing underemployment.

All biggies and I'm navigating two teenagers through each of these events, obviously with the help of their father and other family members.

Today should have been the first day of a new job for me. It was offered to me last week and two days later the offer was withdrawn. There was feedback from an anonymous individual that I was not good with deadlines. Let's remember that I have been a journalist since 1981 so I have an idea what the concept and fact of a deadline is.

Let's also think that if an organisation is prepared to accept commentary from someone for whom I have never worked about my ability to plan and execute work, it is an organisation that has values (?) that do not match mine. You know, integrity, honesty, kindness, loyalty, diligent work ethic. Oh, did I mention it's a Christian-based outfit?

The recruiter was as appalled as I was at my treatment. She also gave me some good feedback. My specialist set of skills was not going to fit into any old job advertisement. I have come to realise the same thing over the past few months. There's also the issue, unspoken but prevalent, of ageism. I am offering this as a topic of conversation as I have met many, many people who are underemployed. They are mostly over 50. That's right. As our Prime Minister speaks of agility and start-ups and exciting times, anyone with a few decades of life and work under their belt is discarded. As one of the old-timers at yesterday's funeral said, most start-ups fail within 12 months so it's hardly the basis to firm up the economy. Another person told me he despairs for the Australian economy. He has worked hard throughout his life on public and private projects, in and around government. He has never seen such a lack of vision, understanding or intelligence when it comes to running the country.

Those over 50s are turning to self-employment or insecure casual work. If they are lucky, they have some sort of pension or income stream that they have built up over many years. But not everyone has been able to do so.

If you listen to the current crop of politicians your eyes are probably glazed tight shut and you shake your head at the lack of vision, the total inability to see beyond their next pre-selection. Of course there are some exceptions to the rule, people who work for the common good, but they are not the ones scheming and manoeuvring into positions of power.

The father-in-law's terminal illness has been a source of great sadness for all of us and yesterday we gathered to farewell him in a little country church. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful ceremony. Not too "Goddy" and a good mix of a praise and harmony.

To ensure that the firstborn could I attend, Miss B and I travelled on Sunday afternoon to stay with one of our dear friends who lives closer to his base than we do. Yesterday we left early in the morning to collect the firstborn, drive him to the funeral, attend the funeral, attend the wake, then I took him back to where he needed to be and I turned around and drove home, collecting Miss B from the family gathering along the way, 730km in one day. As I turned into my street my Dad, who had also attended the funeral, called to tell me my beautiful Grandad, Alfred Samuel Date, died yesterday afternoon, aged 110 years, five months and three weeks.

The ex-family home is on the market. There is interest. Someone will be buying a home that we loved.

There is so much emotion swirling around all of these events.

I've been walking, walking, walking and painting. I have beautiful friends and family who sustain me both literally and emotionally. I have two entirely beautiful and delightful children who are learning to make their way in the world.

There is a silver lining to all of this. I've learned how to spot the vampires who suck the bone marrow from you and me. I keep garlic close.

All the love.