Wednesday, 28 March 2018
This week I and my colleague Dr Mike Freelander, the member for Macarthur, launched Parliamentary Friends of Women's Health. When I first flagged this idea of an umbrella parliamentary friendship group for women's health to the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt, and to the Minister for Women, the Hon. Kelly O'Dwyer, they were both incredibly supportive, as were my colleague and co-chair, Dr Freelander, and various members from both sides of politics. In addressing women's health issues, Australians always show their generosity and spirit. A great example of that is Jane McGrath Day held at the SCG, where you see a sea of pink in Sydney and where, as a nation, we get together and provide the support needed.
The purpose of this group is to provide an umbrella vehicle for discussion around women's health issues more broadly, encapsulating health issues which pertain to women specifically as well as health issues where there is a need for an increased awareness, where the symptoms manifest differently in women than they do in men and/or where the incidence of certain diseases is higher in women, such as multiple sclerosis. Among the many issues where the symptoms manifest differently in women than in men, a key issue is heart attacks. The symptoms of a heart attack in women are often completely different, and heart disease in women, sadly, is often undiagnosed.
The desire and passion to improve women's health issues were also supported and attended to by some amazing leaders. The attendees at the event included Dr Linda Worrall-Carter, founder and CEO of Her Heart; Jane Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Ovarian Cancer Australia; Lucinda Nolan, Chief Executive Officer of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation; Janet Hailes Michelmore, Director of Jean Hailes for Women's Health; Amanda Lynch, National Manager, Government Relations, for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia; Donna Ciccia, Director and Co-founder of Endometriosis Australia; and, of course, the Hon. Dr Michael Wooldridge, former minister for health, former member for Chisholm and former member for Casey. I established this group as I believe it's critically important that we establish an umbrella group which focuses, and ensures the continued focus, on women's health issues.
The Turnbull government's groundbreaking policies are saving lives, and will continue to save lives, by significantly reducing the incidence of health challenges such as diagnosis of ovarian, cervical and breast cancers, and indeed by addressing mental health issues such as postnatal depression, which impacts women. I am proud to be part of the Turnbull government, which has implemented pragmatic policies and measures which in fact all seek to improve women's health issues.