Page 3717 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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What a wonderful initiative—a place where men can go, and walk and talk about anything that is on their minds. They have said that it is life-changing. There is now also a Man Walk for the Tuggeranong district as well. They meet every Wednesday at 6.30 am outside Bunnings. I encourage all men who may be interested in this initiative to join them when they can, and support these simple but incredibly positive initiatives.

The ACT government needs to do more, and I join Ms Castley’s call, especially for the need to develop an ACT men’s health plan. As she has noted, there is no parallel strategy focused on improving services and initiatives for men’s health and wellbeing in the ACT, and the gender lens, as described in the ACT women’s plan, must be applied to our healthcare services when it comes to men as well, for the benefit of everyone else in our community. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.57): I want to make it extremely clear that the motion today was not about men versus women. It was simply to acknowledge that there is no long-term strategy for men’s health. It was as simple as that. There are lots of little things, and I would say that in here we are aware of most of the things that are available, but the average punter on the street would have no idea where to go and get help should they need it.

The government has previously praised their gender lens on health care in the ACT, and we have strategies for women and diverse genders, as I have already said. The male gender is the only gender that does not have this long-term strategy—49.5 per cent of Canberrans. There is no long-term, holistic “one place, one plan” for these guys.

The government has let down every man in the ACT today—every man that is battling with mental health issues; with drug and alcohol problems; with lung, bowel and prostate cancer. These things disproportionately affect men and boys. I am so disappointed, because of all of the motions I have brought, this was the one I thought: “Geez, least political ever. Just give the men a shot.”

I have spoken to Brad at Mens Health Downunder. If you get out to Cooleman Court, go and check out the pharmacy there. He is such a great advocate for men’s health. He said that in his pharmacy he sees around about a thousand people a year who have prostate cancer. I am pretty sure the stats are right, here—50 per cent of those guys would have an operation, and around 100 per cent of people who have an operation, with regard to prostate cancer, will suffer erectile dysfunction and will suffer incontinence. They can be young men needing to wear pads and embarrassed to go out because there are no bins for them like we have in women’s toilets. If we do not have a strategy or a plan, how can we possibly know where these gaps are? I do not want the men in my world embarrassed to go out because they are wearing an incontinence pad due to prostate cancer.

We have to stop saying things like, “Oh, the hospital and the doctor—it was all set up because men were the ones that started the system.” Does that mean we forget them and not develop a plan to care for their health? Adrian from St John, back when I brought up the defib motion—the amount of men that suffer cardiac arrest! Glen from the Men’s Health Forum is a big believer in this. He was the one we talked to in the

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