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June1, 2010: I join the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith, and the international community in condemning the ‘terrible’ and ‘shocking’ Israeli commando attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy to Palestine, carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, aimed at breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza. Latest reports indicate that this unjustifiable attack, which took place in international waters, has left a number of people dead, as well as one Australian wounded and two Australians journalists detained. Those on board have been either killed, injured or detained and I support the Minister’s comments that Australia ‘deplores the violence and deplores the deaths’.

I’m certain that reports of the deaths of Turkish nationals will be very distressing for the Australian-Turkish community. Turkey has played a significant role, both in the level of aid given to the people of Gaza and also in their efforts to assist in the development of the peace process. I stand in support of international condemnation of the Israeli attack, and reiterate the Minister’s calls for a full ‘credible, transparent investigation’ into the bloodshed. I am personally appalled by Israel’s attempt to justify and defend what is an indefensible attack on the humanitarian aid convoy, which included parliamentarians from across the world. Israel’s narrative can only be described as being bereft of a sense of reality towards its own obligations and responsibilities in upholding international law and the principles of democracy.

Our thoughts go out to those on board the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy, who were subjected to this aggression. They were there to provide solidarity and support to a besieged population of 1.5 million, eighty per cent of which is dependent on international humanitarian aid – a population that remains unable to rebuild their shattered lives following the December 08/January 09 attack on Gaza.I also sympathise with those people in Israel who so desperately want peace within the framework of international law. It is clear that their government has once again let them down. The international community must now hold Israel to account, not only on this latest incident, but on its continued siege of war-ravaged Gaza - and stranglehold of the West Bank and East Jerusalem - and recognise that its ongoing actions are an inherent obstacle to the peace process.

  Walk Safely To School Day                                              

 As part of Walk Safely to School Day on May 7th, I went to Bethal Primary and hosted a healthy breakfast for the Grade 5 and 6s. The children were treated to a healthy breakfast to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. During my visit I handed out certificates to the children that visited Parliament House in Canberra. I was impressed with the amount of information the children gained during their stay in our nation’s capital.

 

 

 

On the 14th of May I attended a dinner which allowed women of all different backgrounds to come together and get to know one another through discussions, music and dance. The event had speeches made by myself and others. Everyone had a fantastic time and learnt a little bit about women from different backgrounds from as far away as Bhutan, Syria and Brazil.

 

Federal member for Calwell Maria Vamvakinou is pleased a ten week consultation period has begun to encourage individuals and communities to have their say about the future of arts and culture in Australia.

Thalassaemia

 

 

On Thursday the 6th of May Maria attended the Thalassaemia Australia Campaign organised by the Murdoch Children’s Institute. The aim was to assist diverse cultural communities in understanding Thalassaemia. The event saw the launch of a fact sheet, ways of increasing community awareness, develop community partnerships and encourage research. Janice Munt Victorian parliamentary secretary for health was the guest speaker and helped launch the event.

 

 

Thalassaemia is a group of blood disorders affecting the production of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found in the blood which carries oxygen around our bodies. Thalassaemia is an inherited gene passed down from parent to child. Thalassaemia is not contagious.

Thalassaemia comes in two forms. Beta (β) Thalassaemia and Alpha (α) Thalassaemia.


Beta Thalassaemia: A person generally inherits two β globin genes for the production of beta globin protein in haemoglobin. A person with an alteration to one of their two β globin genes is called a carrier and is healthy. If two partners are carriers of β Thalassaemia they are at risk of having a child affected by beta Thalassaemia. If a person has alterations to both β globin genes, they have a severe condition called β Thalassaemia major. This requires life long treatment.
Alpha Thalassaemia: A person generally inherits four α globin genes for the production of the alpha globin protein in haemoglobin. A person may have two or three of the normal for alpha globin genes for haemoglobin production. They are a carrier and they are healthy. If two partners are carriers of α Thalassaemia they may be at risk of producing a child affected with Haemoglobin H disease or Bart’s hydrops fetalis. When a person has only one alpha globin gene they have Haemoglobin H disease. If a person has no alpha globin genes they have a severe condition called Bart’s hydrops fetalis. This is a fatal condition which is dangerous for both mother and baby during pregnancy.

The genes for β Thalassaemia are common in people of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian subcontinent and South-east Asian backgrounds. The genes for α Thalassaemia are common in people of Asian origin, as well as those of African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean origin.

If you have anymore inquires as to what Thalassaemia is or if you would like more information please contact or call (03) 9888 2211 or visit www.thalassaemia.org.au.

 

 

 

 

“ANZAC day is a day of national commemoration where we honour the memory and sacrifice of Australia’s servicemen and women” Ms Vamvakinou said.

“Their service and sacrifice is epitomized by the spirit of the original ANZACs.”