Click here to watch Sharon’s speech
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (09:30): I want to talk to the House about a very important event I attended on 2 September with one of my great staffers, Alison Byrnes, and our partners Paul Scully and Gino Mandarino. We joined the team of Illawarra Young Labor people for a blood drive at the local Wollongong Red Cross blood bank. I want to acknowledge all of the participants who came along: Kieran O'Connor, Peter Munford, Alex Costello, Dale Norris, Jarrod Dellapina, Caitlin Roodenrys and Alex Napier. We turned up in a group. Jessica Sparks, who is a member of Young Labor locally, had organised the event. Jessica is a double lung transplant recipient. She advocates tirelessly for the issue of transplants but also for the importance of blood donation. She had booked us a bank of seats on which to donate blood, and along we went.
I commend the Illawarra Young Labor group for what was a great initiative. It will be ongoing, as we will be doing this on a regular basis. I take the opportunity to put on the record to my community, but also to the chamber and to the country, the importance of participating in the Red Cross blood bank processes, if you can. People who want information, who are enthused enough to think, 'I will have a look at this,' can go to donateblood.com.au. I am an O negative blood type, so I am always very conscious of the call-out for O negative donors. I am pleased to be able to participate on an ongoing basis.
Blood is obviously vital to life. The Red Cross Blood Service website gives people plenty of information about how important their work is. It makes the point that currently about one in 30 Australians donate blood, but—and this is where the pressure point comes—one in three people will need blood in their lifetime. So we must put all our efforts into getting more people who are able to donate to participate in this very important program. Obviously blood donations cover a wide range of needs. There is a high demand in the area of cancer and blood diseases. Donations are also needed for anaemia sufferers, people having open heart surgery, burns sufferers and people with kidney, heart and stomach diseases. I am sure we all know someone who needs blood. If you have not done it yet, get out there; it is not that painful. Donate blood and participate in a great program. Congratulations also go to the staff at the Wollongong Red Cross Blood Service.