Epilepsy roundtable

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:35): South Australians of all ages experience the chronic and debilitating health impacts of living with epilepsy. One in 25 people will have epilepsy at some point in their lifetime, and it is a chronic health condition for many South Australians. It can result in ongoing medical expenses and can require, and often does, constant medical attention. Many people living with epilepsy are usually able to live full and productive lives through medication, self-management and lifestyle changes. However, public confusion on epilepsy can cause challenges to people who live with this condition.

Government, families and the community need to work together to provide quality support services for those with epilepsy. To this end, I recently hosted an epilepsy round table, giving consumers, government representatives, members of parliament, neurologists, paediatricians and the Minister for Health and Wellbeing (Hon. Stephen Wade) a chance to discuss how best to manage the care for people living with epilepsy in South Australia.

The round table was opened by the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, and I thank him for his participation. The panellists included Dr Diana Lawrence, Executive Director Medical Services at SAHLN; Naomi Burgess, the state's Interim Chief Pharmacist; Dr Carolyn Harris, a GP and consumer; Mrs Vikki Threapleton, a consumer; and Dr Damian Clark, consultant paediatrician and neurologist at the Women's and Children's Hospital.

I would like to thank everyone who attended and participated for sharing their personal stories, especially Vikki Threapleton, Carolyn Harris, Kym Meers, and Mark Elliott for his moving contribution on his family experience with epilepsy. I thank Katherine Height, who came all the way from Mount Gambier. I also thank the many others who came to the forum and took the time to make a contribution and to share with me, the minister and those health practitioners their lived experience in Australia and for bravely sharing their stories and their family's stories. I also thank the member for Mount Gambier for attending the forum and highlighting the difficulties that many families face in regional South Australia.

The round table was an opportunity to consider the availability and accessibility of existing epilepsy services in our state and to explore current and future service needs. The participants had knowledge, understanding and experience of the condition and were able to make a valuable contribution to the discussion on how best the Marshall Liberal government can assist people living with epilepsy. The round table explored a number of opportunities for the government to consider in relation to improved support and services for those families.

In particular, there was a lot of discussion around the Victorian and NSW models. These were highlighted as centres of excellence for the treatment and care of those living with epilepsy, especially the provision in those states around inpatient wraparound services. Many good points were raised and ideas discussed, including increased access to support services for families and the community, including face-to-face support after initial diagnosis and referral by the health system to ensure that all families have an appropriate care plan.

There was also a lot of discussion about the positive impact that families have experienced through access to medical cannabis and the need for easier CBD access in South Australia. Those pharmacists who are prepared to provide that service was an issue that was also raised, as was the time that it takes to see a paediatric neurologist. I hope that we soon will also have a better epilepsy model of care here in South Australia based on some of the fantastic feedback we received that afternoon.

Diagnosis and management are critical to supporting those affected by epilepsy in our community. I know that minister Wade is already considering the ideas raised at the round table and the important opportunity we have for those living with epilepsy to take the next step in terms of care management in South Australia. I look forward to working with the minister to deliver tangible outcomes for all South Australians affected by this condition.

I would also like to thank the Epilepsy Centre for the work they do in South Australia. The Epilepsy Centre is a member of Epilepsy South Australia and is committed to providing quality, caring services. It has dedicated and professional staff who provide counselling, training, practical assistance and advocacy. It has been the lead provider of epilepsy services in South Australia since 1976.

The government is looking at optimising health services across the state, and I believe that we need to include support services for South Australians living with epilepsy. It is not only important to raise awareness of this condition but also to see what we can do and to see what best practice is around the nation to ensure that we deliver the best services to our South Australians.