PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH
Launch of the Women’s Psychotherapy Service for Women
with Advanced Breast Cancer.
The Traditional Owners of the Land;
Pia Hirsch and Mary O’Brien, the facilitators of Support for Women with Advanced Breast Cancer;
Anna Bligh, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development, Trade & Innovation, Local Member for South Brisbane and Loyal Supporter;
Veronica Macaulay -Cross and Kay O’Sullilvan our Guest Speakers; and
The other members of the Support Group who have also contributed to the development of the website;
Welcome everyone to the launch of the new website for the Group for Women with Advanced Breast Cancer.
Although we have been involved in this program for a few years, this kind of initiative is new territory for Queensland Health. This organisation is professionally-led and Brisbane-based, but incorporates the innovative use of audio teleconferencing right across the State. This enables women in rural and remote areas with advanced breast cancer – and their partners – to access the support services offered. Or women who are feeling too sick or tired to leave their homes.
A website has now been developed incorporating information on psychosocial support services and helpful hints on coping with the disease… And a professionally moderated internet forum or online support group which will increase access for women living in remote and rural areas.
It is my understanding that no other website exists in Australia that caters exclusively for the needs of this group.
The women’s Psychotherapy Service Inc. is currently funded by Queensland Health through the Mental Health Reform and Incentives Program. Funding for the 2005/6 financial year is $76,400. Queensland Health recently extended the service agreement to 31 December, 2006.
Our capacity to continue funding the service beyond 31 December, 2006 will be reviewed closer to the expiry date of the current funding period.
However I am well aware of the fact that Queensland Health staff would support the continued funding of this program due to its demonstrated effectiveness.
The Women’s Psychotherapy Service Inc. has been offering a Queensland-wide support service for women with advanced breast cancer since 1999.
The organisation has been funded by Queensland Health since January 1, 2003.
It was initially funded to conduct one professionally-led support group per week for women with advanced breast cancer, their partners and their families.
In 2005, Queensland Health increased funding to conduct a second support group per week and one monthly face-to-face and audio teleconference group for partners and adult family members of participating women.
The organisation submitted a proposal in January, 2005, to develop a web-based component to complement and extend the range of services provided.
The proposal was approved by Queensland Health.
And is in fact, well-regarded by Queensland Health.
It has the support of members of a reference group which advises the service and includes Professor Patsy Yates, Centre for Palliative Care and Research & Education, Dr Jane Turner, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Jennifer Muller, Senior Director of Queensland Health’s Cancer Screening Services Unit, a palliative care physician, medical and radiation oncologists and breast care nurses.
The Group for Women with Advanced Breast Cancer is modelled on a similar group in Melbourne and has been able to demonstrate clinical effectiveness similar to randomised control trials using the same group intervention.
The Group in Brisbane provides an evidence-based treatment which demonstrates significant improvement in psychological well-being after 12 months’ interaction.
At two years, even greater improvements are indicated and sustained.
Today we are launching the website which allows even greater access to support for women with advanced breast cancer right across the State of Queensland.
Queensland women will be able to discuss their concerns with each other, gaining from the experiences of other group members, getting reassurance and support from the group, with a professional moderator to answer and redirect any questions when appropriate.
This organisation caters for the ongoing psychosocial support needs of this group, promoting well-being, reducing anxiety.
In so doing it reduces the need for specialised mental health services for participants and their families.
Many of the women with advanced breast cancer discover that their lives have been enriched by friendships with other women in their group.
I would like to congratulate all the people involved in the Group for Women with Advanced Breast Cancer, for your part in alleviating the cares and concerns of other women.
I look forward to working with you and this valuable website will improve the quality of life for many many people.