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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5468 ..

those illnesses, and I think having something like this, which addresses these very serious issues in a light-hearted way, is a great way to engage in discussion about them.

It is a movement that engages men of all ages and provides an innovative way of raising money. As you walk around Canberra and, indeed, Australia at this time of year, you are likely to encounter a variety of moustaches invoking a variety of retro styles, and it brings an element of laughter into a lot of lives. As we have already talked about today, men are often less likely to discuss health matters, and having events such as Movember and approaching health issues in a light-hearted way allows for a discussion of more serious issues to occur.

Men in the ACT have a lower life expectancy than women and have a higher mortality from most serious diseases than women. This is most likely because men access health services less frequently than women, which can lessen the chance of early detection and treatment for common diseases. Recent studies have shown that men do not get regular health checks because they are embarrassed to discuss their health issues or scared it will lead to a hospital visit. Combating society’s stereotypes can be hard, and some men can be quite confronted by the prospect of being unwell.

One of Movember’s key aims is to inform men that they should not wait until they are sick to see a doctor; rather, men should have an annual general health check-up, as this will provide the best chance of identifying problems and hopefully preventing or lessening complications and side effects.

During the last estimates process, I was informed through the response to one of my questions on notice that the ACT government is committed to developing a male health policy that reflects the national male health policy. This is important, because the national policy recognises a holistic view of health, including physical, mental, and social aspects, and also takes into consideration the social determinants of health.

I look forward to seeing the first draft of the men’s health policy and hearing what new initiatives the government proposes to better engage those men who are on a low income in particular and are suffering higher levels of health inequity. We need to engage them not only in preventative health physical activities but also programs that build their social capital and resilience.

Two of the specific illnesses that Movember is concerned with are prostate cancer and depression. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and the second greatest cause of cancer deaths in men. The latest data shows that in 2010, almost 20,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 3,300 will die as a direct cause of prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia notes that there is currently no population-based screening for prostate cancer, and this leads to confusion amongst men and their doctors. It is recommended that men talk to their doctors about prostate cancer from the age of 50, if not before, and especially if there is a history of prostate cancer in their families.

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