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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3474 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, the Government has now had the opportunity to consider the report and recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care into men's health services in the ACT. I am therefore pleased to be able to table the Government's response today. The ACT Government welcomes the standing committee's report on men's health services and acknowledges that a gender-based approach to health is important. The Government appreciates the wide range of community consultation that has been undertaken by the committee, as this is a crucial starting point in policy development in any emerging health area.

The Government supports the committee's view that men's unwillingness to access health services seems to underpin the problems associated with men's health. The Government therefore believes that any improvement in men's health must tackle the issue of men's social behaviour as the primary determinant to accessing health services and possible solutions to breaking down this barrier. The Government acknowledges the importance of well-trained and understanding general practitioners who are familiar with men's health issues and have the ability to communicate with their male clients successfully.

The ACT Department of Health and Community Care is currently finalising arrangements through the ACT Division of General Practice for the implementation of various aspects of the Victorian men's health awareness network model which targets men and encourages them to take responsibility for their health. It directs men to existing health services, in particular, general practitioners.

This program will continue the skilling of general practitioners and health professionals about the needs of men. It will also contribute to projects which use a health promotion approach to facilitate access by men from all age groups to existing services. The Government will work with the Commonwealth, men's health experts, existing service providers, and the community to develop and implement a community awareness and education program for men's health. The Government is also committed to continuing existing men's health services, such as the Belconnen community service program, the Tuggeranong HIM program, the Service Against Male Sexual Assault (SAMSA) program, provision of the Murringu initiative, and support for the ACT Men's Health and Wellbeing Association, amongst others.

Members should note that while the Government supports the majority of the report's recommendations, it does not support the request for endorsement of a national prostate cancer screening program, as this recommendation is not in line with current medical research findings and best practice as identified by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The Australian Health Technology Advisory Committee of the NHMRC has evaluated the benefits, risks and costs of screening for prostate cancer, and after careful consideration has concluded:

there is no evidence at this time to show that screening for prostate cancer makes any difference to how long a man will live, nor that early detection and treatment of prostate cancer will result in improved quality of life.

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