Thursday 29 October 2009
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Mr FINCH  (Rosevears) - Enthusiasm for Trivial Pursuit waxes and wanes in the social context.  But trivia challenges, especially online and in a fundraising context, go from strength to strength and are especially popular with school students.  As patron of the Epilepsy Association of Tasmania, I want to offer the example today of the National Epilepsy Online Trivia Challenge which will be held here in Parliament House on Wednesday 18 November.  It was preceded on the third weekend of October by the State finals, when we had about 200 students in teams of four from around the State at the Elphin Sports Centre in Launceston.  It is a fantastic program which reaches out to Tasmanian schoolchildren, teaching them about epilepsy while working in teams to answer trivia questions.  Trivia Challenge also serves as a fundraiser to ensure that Epilepsy Tasmania can continue to provide their high-quality services.  The State final is held each year for grade 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s and the winning grade 6 team then represents Tasmania in the national final.  This year's State final was a highly successful event.  It is a social inclusion event, bringing together students who suffer epilepsy and those who do not and brings about an understanding of what to some is a frightening condition.

This year's State finals were attended by the Commissioner for Children, Paul Mason, and I would like to quote part of his e-mail that he sent to me afterwards:

'I … thank you for the opportunity to share the stage with you and have a word with the kids and their families about life-long learning. 

It was enormously encouraging to see children striving so fairly and so hard, as I roamed the hall distributing and collecting completed question sheets.  Each knew that not everyone was walking away with a prize, but each gave it their best effort.  They also knew that their Sunday and their brainpower was indirectly a gift to kids in most cases less fortunate than themselves, kids with epilepsy. 

Epilepsy is a mysterious condition that comes unexpectedly and without discrimination, can be frightening for onlookers and needs above all calm and compassion.  This is why the slogan for Epilepsy Tasmania reads:  "Help By Understanding". 

I was delighted therefore to discover that ALL teams correctly answered ALL the special "epilepsy questions" that were scattered through the questions.

The families and friends also gave up their day and some travelled long distances:  what they gave their children that day - the experience, the excitement, the learning - are all gifts that money can't buy.'

I think the commissioner sums it rather well, Madam President.  The event funds itself and what is left over goes to the Epilepsy Association of Tasmania, which also will share in the proceeds of the national challenge next month.

St Thomas More School won the grade 6 final last year and they were third in the national challenge and they will be here again.  It is a credit to the school that they have been able to produce these students to participate so well.

The Epilepsy Association of Tasmania provides services to about 10 000 Tasmanians each year and they provide them with support, counseling, information, advocacy and community education.  Support groups and camps are held on a regular basis and epilepsy councils and educators work closely with visiting neurologists in major Tasmanian hospitals to provide a comprehensive service to Tasmanians living with epilepsy.

Madam President, an epilepsy attack can be a frightening event for an observer.  Many Tasmanian school students are likely to encounter an attack and it is important that they understand what epilepsy is.  This trivia competition plays a highly important role in fostering an understanding of epilepsy where it is most effective:  in the primary school.

Madam President, one message that we should get over to primary school children and the rest of the community is that many people have epilepsy.  They are in all communities and they manage their condition usually without involving anyone else.  Here is a short list, in no particular order, of people affected.  Hugo Weaving; Tony Greig; Elton John; the former Captain of the Socceroos, Paul Wade; Charles Dickens; Lord Byron; Rugby League's Wally Lewis; Julius Caesar; Alexander the Great; Napoleon Bonaparte; Alfred Nobel and Peter Tchaikovsky, and some of them might have done very well in the Tasmanian Trivia Challenge.

Madam PRESIDENT - The honourable member for Apsley, I am conscious of the time.  Perhaps if you introduce your subject and then complete it after question time.