Australian Prime MInister Kevin Rudd Releases First Male Health Policy in Australia
The National Male Health Policy has been developed through extensive consultations with health services, health professionals, and men themselves in 26 public forums attended by 1,300 people.
It encourages men of all ages to take action to improve their own health and recognises that this requires information, assistance and support, across 6 priority areas.
The Rudd Government is investing $16.7 million to assist in addressing male health challenges.
The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined the Minister for Indigenous Health and Rural and Regional Health, Warren Snowdon, to make the announcement at the Whittlesea Men's Shed.
The $16.7 million commitment includes:
* $3 million for the Australian Men's Sheds Association to help secure the future of men's sheds and support new sheds, especially in areas of high need. Men's sheds play an important role in the community by providing meeting places where men can find social support and camaraderie.
* $6.9 million to establish the first Australian longitudinal study into the social determinants of male health to understand and address all of the determining factors - social, economic and behavioural - that affect the length and quality of life of Australian men.
* $6 million to promote the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, and encourage them to actively participate in their children's and families' lives, particularly during the antenatal period and in early childhood.
* $400,000 for regular bulletins on male health to further build the evidence base in male health and inform health professionals, policy developers and consumers.
* $350,000 to develop health promotion materials targeting males at key transition points in life, for distribution in men's sheds and more broadly.
* $50,000 to support GPs to better engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait males through the Andrology Australia forum in June 2010.
The National Male Health Policy recognises that while the life expectancy of the Australian man at 78.7 years is among the highest in the world, this is still five years shorter than the expected life of an Australian woman at 83.7 years.
This is partly due to preventable conditions or where men experience premature deaths such as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer at higher rates than women.
Further to this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are particularly vulnerable, living on average 11.5 years less than non-Indigenous men.
The policy sets out six priority areas for investment:
1. Optimal health outcomes for males - Deliver initiatives and services that take into account the needs of Australian men and promote optimal health outcomes for all Australian men.
2. Health equity between population groups of males - Recognising some groups of men have worse health outcomes than others, like those living in rural and remote communities and that different initiatives and services may be needed.
3. Improved health for males at different life stages - Deliver initiatives and services that consider the health needs of Australian men in different age groups and at key transition points from youth to old age.
4. A focus on preventive health for males - Deliver preventative-health initiatives that take into account the needs of Australian men.
5. Building a strong evidence base on male health - Build the evidence base in Australian male health and use it to inform the development of policies, programs and initiatives.
6. Improved access to health care for males - Tailor health care services and initiatives to facilitate access by men, particularly for population groups of men at risk of poor health.
The National Male Health Policy is available at www.health.gov.au/malehealthpolicy