Page 3710 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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However, it must be said that we have some way to go to address economic inequality in our healthcare system. While Australia is rightly proud of our public health system, the failure of successive federal governments to extend dental health and mental health care to Medicare has left poorer Australians, including the men that Ms Castley seeks to advocate for, much worse off than their wealthier counterparts.

Everyone should be able to use their Medicare card when they go to the dentist. Poor people put off going to the dentist because they cannot afford it, which does not just mean worse teeth, but can lead to other health problems, too.

Here in the ACT, the ACT Greens have been working to develop a mental health system response that not only provides acute care to those in extreme distress but can provide care up the river, to prevent people experiencing acute distress from requiring medical responses.

It is unfair and a sign of deep inequality that poor people, including poor men, are unable to access the same level of care and support. This government has work to do on economic inequality in our healthcare system, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for systemic responses to these issues.

I would like to thank Ms Castley for the opportunity to speak about feminist public health approaches in the chamber today.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (3.30): I was not planning to speak on this motion, but I felt that I had to respond to the health minister, because there were a couple of things that she said in her speech that I found rather extraordinary. I would say to the health minister: how could you possibly suggest in this chamber that a proposal or concept to support men, vulnerable men, in the health space somehow comes from the far right? On which planet is seeking to look after vulnerable men a conservative ideal?

I find that suggestion particularly condescending and offensive, and I am not the only one. How dare the health minister downplay this worthwhile motion by fantasising about some hyper-partisan construct that she has dreamed up! It just emphasises that, for this minister and this government, gender issues are really important, except when it comes to men.

I was invited to attend a men’s suicide awareness event earlier in the week, on the lawns of federal parliament. Paul Withall was the driving force behind the 2,500 shoes event. I was actually invited live on TikTok. He stumbled across one of my live broadcasts and hit me up about men’s suicide. He asked, if this issue was so important to me, whether I would be able to attend the awareness event. Of course, I said yes. On Monday, Paul and his supporters laid out 2,500 pairs of shoes on the lawns of Parliament House. There were all sorts of shoes—workboots, runners; there were some footy boots and some inline skates there.

Paul mentioned to me that some of the shoes, some of the footwear, had actually been sent to him by families who had lost men through suicide. Some of them were not just a representation of those that we had lost; they were genuinely the shoes of people who had taken their lives. Each pair of shoes represented another man who had taken

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