CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS Riverina Electorate: Melanoma

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (16:00): Amie St Clair was a confident, happy, strong willed, talented and enormously popular sportswoman with a positive attitude. Born and bred in Wagga Wagga, she loved all sport but had a real passion and talent for softball, playing in many representative sides. Wes Bonny was your average fun-loving Australian.

He and his family and friends did what many young Australians do: play sport—he was an exceptional Australian footballer; go to the beach; and just enjoy life. Wes and his brothers, Stuart and Vaughan, packed plenty into each and every day. Raised at Beckom, Wes spent some time on the farm helping his parents, Peter and Jacquie, on their Fairlight property near Ardlethan before moving to Canberra to study accountancy. 

Besides both being from the Riverina, there is a devastating factor that Amie and Wes share: both passed away from a melanoma. On 9 November 2009, just a day after her 23rd birthday, Amie passed away in her Walteela Avenue home, close by to the French Fields softball diamonds she treasured. Just a few months later, on 20 March 2012, when Wes was just 26 years young, the melanoma spread to his brain and his will to live was overcome by the disease. 

With the help of their dedicated families, both Amie and Wes have certainly not died in vain. Their stories continue to be told, both locally and nationally, to warn all that it is not just the older generations who can succumb to this horrible disease. The Cancer Institute, along with Wes's family and friends, has released a powerful new melanoma campaign: the Wes Bonny Testimonial campaign. The promotion, which features Wes's family and friends, was launched on 23 January 2011—in time to coincide with Australia Day and school holidays—and was run until March 2011. The four television commercials, three 30-second ads and one 90-second radio ad recount the experience with Wes's life, his diagnosis and his untimely death. Many came to know his story and his aggressive and treacherous battle with melanoma. Wes's personal story and the Wes Bonny Testimonial campaign resonated with the broader community. As such, the campaign was run again over the 2011-12 summer months, and it will continue to do so. 

In Amie's honour, the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust was started and registered as a not-for-profit charity, with a board of directors and a dynamic 20-strong fundraising committee. It has a strong vision to increase awareness of melanoma. On 26 May I had the honour of attending the Amie St Clair Pink and Black Ball, a memorial dinner at which 140 people, including Amie's parents, Peter and Annette, and younger brother, Tim, all wore pink, Amie's favourite colour, and black, signifying the colour of the melanoma ribbon. It was the third dinner to be held in honour of Amie and was a fun-filled evening, complete with auctions and charity events, yet was also an emotional night. The goal of getting a registered nurse to try to treat melanoma throughout the Riverina has been achieved thanks to this trust. Currently a registered nurse dedicates one day of her week to this vital cause. I ask all parliamentarians to do what they can to raise awareness of melanoma and fight against it. It is the least we can do for Amie, Wes and others whom we treasure. (Time expired)

Cristy Houghton