Haemochromatosis Australia was delighted to be advised by Senator Catryna Bilyk that the Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, has approved a grant of $30,000 to help us to run the first Australian Haemochromatosis Conference during 2014.

Announcing the $30,000 grant, Senator Bilyk said the little-known condition was, in fact, the most common genetic disorder among Australians of European descent and could lead to serious health impacts.

 “Around 100,000 people have a predisposition to the disorder due to a gene mutation and, if untreated, this could lead to chronic diseases such as fibrosis, cancer of the liver, arthritis and diabetes,” Senator Bilyk said.

 “However, it is generally easily treated and, if diagnosed early, Australians with haemochromatosis can expect to lead perfectly normal, healthy lives.

 “For people who have this condition, early detection and treatment leads to a slowing of the progression of arthritis and liver cancer.”

 She said the conference would have a patient focus as well as bringing together the leading experts in the field to discuss future policies and research possibilities.

 “Haemochromatosis Australia is the only advocacy and support group for Australians who have this condition – for 23 years it has been doing outstanding work providing information, health promotion programs and help for people with haemochromatosis, their families and carers,” Senator Bilyk said.

 President of Haemochromatosis Australia Ben Marris thanked Senator Bilyk and the Minister. “This grant will enable us to stage a really significant conference which we hope will be the first of a regular biennial series. We will work with our medical advisers and we hope to have an international speaker. We also intend that the conference should be accessible to many people with haemochromatosis, as well as scientists, clinicians and policy makers. Staging the conference will be a major challenge for our organisation but one that we will tackle with enthusiasm because it can only advance our cause. We will keep members informed as this project develops. We look forward to inviting members to become active participants, helping as well as attending the event.”