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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5470 ..

The focus through Movember on depression also highlights the importance of investing in mental health and recognising the burden of disease that it accounts for in the community. This includes moving towards having 12 per cent of the health budget spent on mental health, which is something the Greens and mental health groups have been calling for for quite some time. For too long people with mental illness have gone unrecognised and unserviced. The latest ACT Chief Health Officer’s report showed that the burden of disease for mental illness increased from 13 to 15 per cent.

Notably, mental disorders now make up five per cent of the mortality rate in the ACT. National figures show that, for young people, this rate is much higher, and mental illness is the biggest cause of death amongst men aged under 44. That is a very sobering statistic to keep in mind.

There are a number of campaigns that draw attention to various health issues, and each of these campaigns is welcome and important. Movember provides an engaging way to highlight serious issues for men’s health, and I congratulate the Movember Foundation, its partners and all of the men involved in the campaign, which encourages men to talk and think about their health.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (4.26): I would like to thank Mrs Dunne for bringing this matter of public importance before us today and also Ms Bresnan and Mr Hargreaves for their words. Mr Hargreaves, who lambasted every person who was not here, has now disappeared. That is a bit ironic, but he certainly made the unique claim that he is the only politician in the history of probably the ACT and beyond who can claim that their moustache has made a greater contribution to civic life than themselves.

It is good that we can be in this place talking about men’s health. We were here in the last sitting period talking about women’s health, and we did so in a collegiate fashion. It is good that we are here talking about men’s health in a similar fashion. I would like to highlight, firstly, that Movember is a triumph of Aussie enterprise. Movember actually started in Australia with 30 men becoming—I quote from their website—“walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November”.

The aim of their initiative was to raise awareness and funds for the much maligned issue of men’s health. Now in Australia alone, 128,000 “mo bros” and “mo sistas” participate in this event. A “mo sista”, I believe, is a woman who does not shave her legs during November, so we can look forward to that next year from some of the ladies present, perhaps.

Movember has also spread to nine other countries—New Zealand, USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the Netherlands. Not only does Movember provide an important vehicle for the promotion of men’s health, but it has become a travelling billboard for the great Aussie can-do attitude. The organisers of Movember must be congratulated on identifying a need in the community and working hard not only to address it but to address it so successfully. We should be proud of Movember and what it has achieved so far. We should also be proud of one of our attendants, Denis Axelby, who is contributing to Movember this year, and I would like to acknowledge his efforts in doing so.

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