Before parliament rose in March, I joined many of my fellow southsiders in Canberra to help raise awareness and funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. Each year between 14 and 17 March, thousands of Australians show they are brave and caring enough to have their hair shaved or coloured to raise much-needed funds for the foundation.
Now I did not have my head shaved. But I did shave someone else's! I visited the Goodstart early learning centre in Garran and shaved the head of their wonderful centre director, Kirsty Watters. Fortunately, I was assisted by a hairdresser, because had it been left up to me it would have looked pretty ordinary for Kirsty. But fortunately there was a hairdresser there and Kirsty was made quite beautiful once finished. All the children of the centre were buzzing around and Kirsty's husband was there videoing the ceremony. So it was quite an event, quite a spectacle, and she is a very brave woman.
Kirsty has been working in early childhood education for 13 years and has been with Goodstart for eight of those years. Kirsty bravely decided to take part in the World's Greatest Shave after a child in the centre was diagnosed with leukaemia. She really loved this child very much and was moved by that love into action. Kirsty raised a very impressive $3,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation through her efforts.
The World's Greatest Shave raises about half the money needed each year by the Leukaemia Foundation to complete its important work. The money raised through these shave-for-a-cure activities goes towards research which is needed to find better treatments and cures for leukaemia, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. It also helps families when they need it most. The money raised provides them with a free home away from home when they are getting their treatment near hospitals. It also means that patients can be transported to their appointments and given assistance and emotional support.
The support they get is incredible. In the last 14 years over a million people have shaved or coloured their hair. These people have raised more than $138 million. Through the work of so many Australians, and so many in my electorate, so many people like Kirsty Watters, this is now the biggest source of income for the Leukaemia Foundation.
Every day over 30 Australians will be diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood disorder. That is more than 11,500 people each year. Although survival rates are improving, blood cancers like these are still the second biggest cause of cancer death in Australia. This is why the ongoing work of the Leukaemia Foundation is so important. I thank everyone in my electorate, and indeed all Australians who take part in activities that help the foundation. In particular I would like to thank Kirsty and the team from Goodstart, Garran, for inviting me to participate in their shave.