SUBJECTS: Raising awareness of skin cancer; Australian Skin Cancer Foundation: Jay’s Mission Melanoma Walk
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: A couple of years ago, I got diagnosed with melanoma. I'm one of the lucky ones. I spotted a mole on my leg, which I noticed had changed colour. And so I booked an appointment with the doctor. She said, "Okay, let's cut it out." We cut it out, and I'm so lucky that we did, because that decision to see her and cut it out saved my life. If melanomas are left on your body to grow, they metastasise and they spread to every part of your body and it'll kill you. Getting the message out to check your skin, go see the doctor, it's so important.
JOURNALIST: I guess with a lot of people indoors during the pandemic it's not been front of mind. With summer season coming in, a lot more people being out, are you hoping that this will raise more awareness and more people to get their skin checked?
CLARE: One of the long-term consequences of COVID is that people didn't go to see the doctor. And that's true for all sorts of tests that people needed to get, all their regular tests. One of those is skin checks. We didn't see anywhere near the amount of skin checks last year or the year before, that we saw before the pandemic. And that means that there were melanomas still on people's bodies, but they were growing and they weren't being cut out. It's really, really dangerous. So we've got to get the message out, get back to the doctor, get your skin checked.
There’s five members of the Cabinet that have been diagnosed with melanoma or other types of skin cancers just in the last few years. This isn't something that just affects a couple of people, this affects a lot of Aussies. People come from overseas and they're all terrified about getting bitten by a crocodile or a shark. Melanoma kills one Aussie every six hours. This is a massive killer. We've got to take it seriously, we've got to be sun safe, but we've also got to make sure that we go to the doctor regularly and get a skin check.
JOURNALIST: As you say, research is really important. What is the Federal Government committing to make sure Australians are safe?
CLARE: There's a big investment in an awareness campaign that Mark Butler announced just recently, ahead of summer. In the election campaign, we also announced an extra investment in skin cancer nurses, in melanoma nurses. If you talk to some of the survivors here, particularly guys and girls that are stage three and stage four, having that extra support for specialist nurses is really important as well.
I'm going to just reinforce that message again, if you're watching this, book an appointment with the doctor, get a skin check, it could save your life.
JOURNALIST: Any temptation to join them on the walk for the weekend?
CLARE: Well, I can't do it today. I wish I could. I have got to go back inside to have another meeting, but my old mate, Corey Summers, who asked me down here is walking a bit later in the week, so if Parliament gets up early, I might be able to hit the trail.