The Nationals WA health spokesman Martin Aldridge has used Men’s Health Week 2019 to call on the McGowan Government to invest more in programs helping arrest mental and physical health problems encountered by regional blokes.
His call comes as the Regional Men’s Health Initiative (RMHI) faces an uncertain future after the McGowan Government’s recent Budget committed no ongoing funding to roll out its programs.
Mr Aldridge said the organisation, along with others such as the men’s shed network, were critical to delivering improved health outcomes in the regions and had broken down barriers which prevented men seeking help for health-related issues.
“The RMHI has provided a ground-breaking model of engaging and educating blokes in the regions by directly targeting them and offering free health checks at a range of popular events,” he said.
“Their model has been adopted around Australia, yet the RMHI is under threat in WA due to its funding running out in 2019-20.”
Mr Aldridge said the Men’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy, released on 10 June, confirms males in regional and remote areas experience poorer health than those in metropolitan areas.
“In WA men are overrepresented in suicide, stroke, cancer, heart and lung diseases and almost half of males aged 16-85 have experienced mental health issues,” he said.
“Empowering men to manage their health and wellbeing is a priority goal set out in the Men’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which needs to be actioned by the McGowan Government.
“Given the clear health benefits programs such as the RMHI and men’s sheds bring to participants, the McGowan Labor Government should be bedding down long-term funding agreements to actively support their growth and promotion in our communities.
Men’s Sheds of WA estimates its combined membership engages 7500 individuals every week while the Regional Men’s Health Initiative engages more than 17,000 people through 300 events annually.
The Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies said the importance of programs to help men overcome stigma attached to seeking help should be a priority.
“Prevention is always better than a cure and that is exactly what these crucial organisations emphasise,” she said.
“Given the alarming statistics in the Movember Foundation’s recent Beyond the Emergency report about male suicide rates and other mental health conditions, I would hope the McGowan Government would be looking at funding preventative programs as a priority.
“Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case and we have organisations practically begging the Government to continue funding their excellent work that has proven outcomes.”