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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2272 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

In the meantime, I would look for some more extensive publicity from the ACT Government to encourage men to undertake some screening to check this problem out. That is already happening. We saw research reports that suggested there was almost a de facto screening program, so much more common is screening for this problem. But it is not universal; it is not widespread. More needs to be done. The committee met men in Canberra with prostate cancer who believe that if they had been advised to seek a screening program earlier they may have been identified as having the problem before the cancer spread more widely through their bodies. Having met those men, I do not find it easy to say that we should not do these things. We hope the Government in the ACT will undertake much more publicity to draw men's attention to what is available at present, and we hope the ACT Government will urge the Federal Government to undertake a national screening program.

There are a number of other recommendations in the report that I think will help improve men's health. They are modest. I think they are important, nevertheless, and most significantly I think they are achievable. If the Government accepts our recommendations, I think there will be progress towards improving the condition of men's health in the ACT.

MR HIRD (11.10): Mr Speaker, I join with the chairman of the committee and our colleague Mr Rugendyke in thanking those who supported us in our endeavours in the inquiry into men's health. The committee started this inquiry over a year ago to analyse many of the important issues surrounding men's health, as indicated by Mr Wood. The committee visited other jurisdictions to assess the merits of various men's health programs in other parts of Australia. When we visited north-east Victoria, we were pleasantly surprised at the way people there tackled this issue.

One of the main issues that emerged in the course of the inquiry was that men often wait until a health problem becomes a crisis, not only for them but for their families as well, before consulting a doctor. Usually they go to their GP for another ailment or an elbow or a knee problem, and on the way out they say, "By the way, I am suffering chest pains". On the evidence, this happens regularly, and it is concerning.

The committee found that there are many excellent services operating within the Territory. Not only the current Health Minister, who assisted our committee, but previous Health Ministers since self-government should be commended for their effective delivery of services to men.

It is important that any policy directed towards improving men's health not place men's health in competition with women's health. They should run parallel, Mr Speaker. Following on from this, the committee does not support the development of specific health services for men. Rather. it is important that men be encouraged to utilise existing services in a timely manner - that is, at the first sign of a potential health problem.

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