Parliament: Other Speeches

Endometriosis Motion

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I wish only to put on the record a few brief words in strong support of this motion. I thank the Hon. Ms Tammy Franks for providing a briefing to my staff on this issue where a number of people shared their experiences about the long, painful process they went through to seek and eventually secure a diagnosis of endometriosis.

It is very unfortunate that endometriosis is known to be such a common condition yet so often goes undiagnosed. While I of course do not intend to read my entire medical history into Hansard, I can safely say that while it was not endometriosis, I myself have been affected in the past and to some degree presently by a pelvic pain issue. I do not talk about that lightly or easily. It has been a very painful experience and a very long, drawn-out experience.

The reason I wanted to mention it was that when I first started to seek support for this particular diagnosis, in my early 20s, one of the very first things that my therapist said to me was that she was shocked, really, to see someone as young as I was then presenting openly with this condition. She went on to explain to me that it was not uncommon to see women in their 40s or even mid-50s who, only after traumatic childbirths or other issues, began to recognise that what they were going through was not normal and therefore to seek support.

Again, this is not easy for me to share, but I feel that I am required to, given that we are talking about encouraging more people to be open about their experiences and to seek the necessary support. To that extent I believe that South Australia would benefit enormously by ensuring that the ME program is provided in schools. This early intervention is crucial to teach young people that not all pain is normal pain and to ensure that help is sought early to prevent years of pain, both physical and mental, and years of potential lost opportunity.

I understand that a pilot program has already been completed in South Australia, and the Hon. Mr Hanson touched on that somewhat, and an evaluation will be available in early 2018. I hope that the government will seriously consider this evaluation. Considering the positive results that have obviously come out of the ME program in New Zealand, it seems that these programs are working, and an extended trial should be funded here in South Australia.

I understand, as most of us in this chamber tonight do, that more work of course needs to be done to raise awareness about endometriosis and pelvic pain in general, particularly around training for GPs. However, I also believe it is crucial to ensure that more young people are empowered by teaching them about their own bodies. I hope that with this education and increased awareness, we may finally see an end to endo.