Dry July

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:47): I rise today to speak about something that I have joined only a few days ago, and that is Dry July. I would like to speak about what Dry July actually is, what it does and what it achieves. I think it is a fantastic initiative, as does the member for Flinders, who has also joined up to Dry July. The member for West Torrens is shaking his head. I will get grumpy by the end of the month, don't you worry!

Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:47): I rise today to speak about something that I have joined only a few days ago, and that is Dry July. I would like to speak about what Dry July actually is, what it does and what it achieves. I think it is a fantastic initiative, as does the member for Flinders, who has also joined up to Dry July. The member for West Torrens is shaking his head. I will get grumpy by the end of the month, don't you worry!

It really is a fantastic initiative to raise money to help improve the lives of adults living with cancer. I joined the Riverland Dry July team to recognise the importance of helping to improve cancer services in the region. Around 20 staff members from the Riverland General Hospital in Berri are giving up alcohol for the 31 days of July, as well as a number of other locals, to support the event.

More than 15,000 people nationwide have signed up to Dry July, which aims to raise more than $4 million for cancer patients and their families. A bit of history about Dry July is that the concept began in 2008 when a few mates decided to put down their schooner glasses to raise money for their local hospital in July. That year over $250,000 was raised and 1,000 people signed up. In 2009, six cancer services around Australia received funding, and 4,000 people signed up, raising $1.3 million. In 2010, 10 cancer services across Australia were represented, and Dry July went national and raised $2.4 million by 9,000 participants. In 2011, 11,500 people signed up to raise over $2.8 million for 13 cancer services.

In 2012 Dry July went international, welcoming the Auckland City Hospital, where 2,000 New Zealanders signed up and raised over $550,000. A record-breaking number of 15,000 Aussies have now signed up to raise $3.7 million. Overall, prior to this year, Dry July has raised over $11 million from 43,000 people who have participated.

Dry July is a not-for-profit organisation created to help improve the lives of adults living with cancer. For those 31 days of July, I will be raising funds for the Riverland General Hospital in Berri. When I say that I am going to be raising funds for the hospital in Berri, I am targeting a chemotherapy chair. That chemotherapy chair is one of four that the hospital needs, with the upgrade of the hospital. We have a chemotherapy unit, but we do not have the chairs. I have put my hand up, and, being part of Dry July, my target is to raise $6,000 in order to put one of those chairs into the unit.

This is also a chance for me to raise awareness of individual drinking habits, the value of a balanced, healthy lifestyle and a healthy attitude to alcohol consumption. Also taking part is Country Health SA's regional director of the Riverland Mallee Coorong region, Wayne Champion; the Barmera-Monash senior football coach, Shane Uren; and Berri Barmera Council mayor Peter Hunt. Peter Hunt I know loves a little drink every now and again, so he and I will be sharing Dry July.

Raising money for chemotherapy chairs is part of the hospital's redevelopment and, as I have said, four chairs are required. My target is to raise $6,000 so that we can put one of the four chairs into that unit. Currently, inpatients are treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and that goes to the heart of why we need a review of the PAT system. People travelling from the regions to the QEH do suffer hardship, and it is a very long drive to access cancer services.

One of the hospital's research foundation's major projects is a new accommodation building for Country SA cancer patients. Funds from Dry July will enable the fit-out of these units. Funds to upgrade chemotherapy will mean families can be with cancer sufferers in regional areas; many cannot travel to Adelaide. In conclusion, I am proud to be taking part in Dry July, raising funds for the Riverland General Hospital in Berri. I would urge others to get involved in the future to help support those living and dealing with cancer.

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