Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

Relay for Life & Tribute to Lee McCartney

This evening I want to make some comments about last Saturday's Relay for Life, which the Pine Rivers Shire Council sponsored with their committee in that wonderful part of Queensland around Strathpine. The Relay for Life, as so many people know, is a tradition which was started in 1985 in America by a gentleman who decided he wanted to bring awareness about issues of cancer to his community . He came up with the idea of running around a track over an extended period of time. Sometimes you wonder where these ideas come from, but in fact since Dr Klatt came up with this process it has expanded across the globe. It is an incredibly important part of the American Cancer Society's fundraising for research, and certainly in Australia, since it was taken up by the Cancer Council of Victoria in 1999, when it was first brought into this country, it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research in Australia.

When we started in Queensland in 2001 we had our first event at the Sunshine Coast, and with the community up there we raised over $70,000. That has given us the hope that we will be able to do better and be able to raise much more money across our community. This year, we are hoping that across Queensland alone we will raise several hundred thousand dollars, and across Australia over $3 million for cancer research. Those figures are so impressive; unfortunately, that money is very much needed-we can see exactly where people's enthusiasm and money goes.

The Relay for Life process has formed into quite an impressive community activity where people from across the board can play a role and we are able to encourage people to be involved. The experience of people is so impressive. I want to talk a little about what happened at Pine Rivers. We had over 48 teams that walked over the night-over 18 hours was scheduled for the activity. Over 550 people of all ages took part, from one little boy who was 36 hours old and in his mother's arms-his mother is a cancer survivor and was there with her mother and her new baby as part of the process-through to people whose ages will not be identified but who were well into their senior years. They came together to show their community that cancer can be fought and that the money raised by engaging with the community can be used for effective research. The team of which I was a proud member was a combined team from the National Union of Workers, the NUW, and the ALP. This is our second year. Last year this team raised over $15,000 and that went towards last year's outstanding contribution in Pine Rivers of over $120,000 from the community. In 2007 our contribution from the NUW-ALP team is over $16,000. I want to put on record a deep appreciation to those team members, coordinated nobly by Michelle McJanet and Mark Furner, who is the state secretary of the NUW in Queensland. They raised money from the businesses in the local community, and from the organisations and the work places where NUW have members. They also came together to say that they wanted to be part of the community and part of the Relay for Life.

One of the most impressive parts of the Relay for Life tradition is the remembrance of people who have gone before us. There is always a candlelight ceremony that people are able to be part of and put forward the names of people they have lost. The moment the sun sets the people gather around, maintaining the constant walking, which is in memory of the work that Dr Klatt did to start this off. We keep walking around the track because you must keep that relay going. While that is happening and the sun is setting, there is a moment of silence and with the candles we remember the lives that have gone before us, and keep the hope strong that we will be able to beat this disease.

I want to thank the Pine Rivers community because they came together so strongly under Councillor Bob Miller, the local chairman of the council, and his group of volunteers, in particular the young people who took on the role of keeping it going. Erin, Katrina and Deborah and many others were there. There was also the work of the comperes. There was so much local activity and entertainment gathered there. We could see that this was not just another fundraising activity. This is something that engages the community. We can be part of the over 30 events in Queensland that were part of the Relay for Life banner.

In my last couple of minutes tonight I want to make some comments about a mate who was part of our team on Sunday. Lee McCartney with her daughter Cassie was a member of our team, and on Sunday night Lee died. I was laughing with her on Sunday morning when we completed our part of the relay. We were sharing how much fun we had had and how impressive it was for her and her daughter to be there together at the event. Then on Monday morning we got the phone call to say that she would not be sharing the 2008 Relay for Life with us. But she will be because her contribution to our team and to the whole Albany Creek community will not be forgotten. I want to put this on record tonight for Lee's family, in particular Tom and the twins, Cassie and Trent. We know how much they will miss their mother. We know that there is deep grief in that family, and we want to share that with them. Also Lee's mum and dad are working through the process of losing their child. The community is coming together around Lee's family.

I think she would like to know that the people who knew and remember her will keep her message strong. We all know her contribution to the school community, the local community and the local ALP. Lee has been an active member of our local ALP and that particular decision has been followed by her kids. We will miss you, Lee, and we enjoyed that Relay for Life with you last weekend. I am here to say that we will continue the hard work that you started. Many people will be celebrating the contributions that you made and your relay and your hope for the future.

27 March, 2007