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Politician calls for men’s health funding

A leading politician has given his backing to International Men’s Day (19 November 2022) and made a parliamentary speech calling for more focus on men’s health issues.

The Hon Mike Gaffney MLC told colleagues in the Legislative Council of the Tasmanian Parliament that the time had come for the State Government to make men’s health a priority. 

In a detailed speech, the independent politician - who has served in Tasmania’s Upper House since 2009, said: 

“Currently, the biggest challenge in Tasmania is acknowledging that there are areas where men and boys experience poorer outcomes. Men account for two in three potentially avoidable deaths, and four out of five deaths from heart disease in people under the age of 65. And yet, there are few strategies and policy documents that acknowledge men as a priority population and less than adequate allocated resources towards addressing this.

 “At a time when Tasmania can celebrate nation-leading statistics, such as generating all our electricity from renewable energy and being a net carbon-negative economy, for the first time we now have the highest rate of male suicide in Australia.  To quote from an article by Glen Poole of the Australian Men's Health Forum website:

 “Suicide killed 87 people in Tasmania in 2020. There were 71 male and 16 female suicides. In total, 82.6 per cent of suicides were male. The number of male suicides in Tasmania has risen by 40 per cent in the past decade, and the rate of male suicide is nearly 40 per cent higher in Tasmania than the national average.”

In his speech, Mr Gaffney’s touched on the idea of a Minister for Men taking responsibility for Government action to improve the lives and health of men and boys in Tasmania. He said;

“If we look for a moment at the Government's ministerial portfolios, we see a minister for almost every section of our community - be they children, youth, women, veteran affairs and a number of others too.

 “It is time - given cost of losing so many so early and so silently - that there should be a ministerial portfolio responsibility to represent the health and wellbeing interests of the male half of our community. Addressing male wellbeing outcomes is good for all of us. If we fail to include the areas where men do poorer in our general analysis we fail to provide the best outcomes for women, let alone our children.”

Mr Gaffney also took time to highlight the work of some of the men’s organisations operating in Tasmania -  including Men’s Resources Tasmania, Men’s Sheds and The Man Walk – and called for more funding to support the important work of men’s health initiatives. 

"On this International Men's Day I again acknowledge the work of the various funded and unfunded voluntary grassroots and community-based organisations around Tasmania,” he said. 

“I genuinely believe that this Government, and future governments, could show support of the inequity regarding the financial commitment of our men's organisations, which proactively look at bettering the lives of the somewhat neglected section of the community.  

“I celebrate the mateship they bring to their communities and wish them all the best on this International Men's Day.  I look forward to seeing progress in male wellbeing and I hope that we can report new men's health initiatives on International Men's Day in 2023.”

This is the second speech Mr Gaffney has delivered in support of men’s health in a matter of weeks. Last month he spoke in support of the Time to Act on Male Suicide in Tasmania campaign which calls on Government action to tackle male suicide. 

Find out more:

The full transcript of Mr Gaffney’s previous speech (18th October 2022) is available in Hansard

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