National Stroke Week 2015

There is 1 chance in 8 million of winning Lotto.

1 chance in 1 million of being eaten by a crocodile whilst visiting the NT.

1 chance in 660,000 of winning an Olympic medal.

1 chance in 12,500 of getting a hole in one.

1 chance in 3,000 of being struck by lightning in your lifetime.

And 1 chance in six of having a stroke.

In 2012, about 50,000 Australians had a stroke – that’s one person every 10 minutes.

One of those people was an inspiring young man named Luke Webb.

I met him last year when cycled 108 kilometres from the Big Merino in Goulburn to the steps of Parliament House here in Canberra.

He rode for six hours to give me a petition, signed by 11,000 people, as part of the National Stroke Foundation’s Fight Stroke campaign.

It wasn’t easy, but it was nothing compared to what he had already been through.

He is now one of the 440,000 stroke survivors in Australia.

Many Australians survive stroke.

But two thirds need assistance afterwards to carry out their daily lives.

The same number, suffer a disability that cuts short their working lives.

Up to a third suffer depression.

Stroke also kills.

One on three people who have a stroke will die within a year.
It is the second biggest killer in Australia after heart disease.

It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.

Despite advances in stroke treatment and the important work done by the Stroke Foundation, we are still short of best practice care in Australia.

That’s why it is so important to raise awareness of stroke, the signs of stroke and stroke prevention.

Some of the signs include – facial weakness, arm weakness and difficulty with speech.

Some of the ways to help prevent it include – losing weight, not smoking, exercising more, and lowering your blood pressure.
All of these things can help – but stroke can still happen to anyone.

Luke was only 20 when it happened to him.

His stroke was triggered by a plane trip where he got deep vein thrombosis.

To raise awareness he has already ridden his bike to Canberra, now he is writing a short film about the immediate after effects of stroke and the impact it can have on a young person. Especially for people who leave hospital without a care plan or proper rehab.

He is hoping to produce this film and use it as a tool to spread awareness and put pressure on those who can make a difference. People like us.

Like Luke, I urge the government and I urge the parliament to do more to fight stroke.

Next Week is National Stroke Week. Each year as part of National Stroke week the Stroke Foundations runs more than 3,000 activities across the country.

Activities range from awareness morning teas, displays and talks, personal and team challenges and health checks.

Although some of the risk factors for stroke can’t be controlled, like age, gender and family history, as I said earlier there are some things we can do to lower the risk of suffering a stroke.

One of the most important of those is checking and managing our blood pressure.

So next week, I urge everyone to get a check-up. Talk to your doctor and check your blood pressure.

Talk to your friends and encourage them to get a check up to.

And to my fellow MPs get involved in the campaign and help spread the word.

We can and we should be doing better.