Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Doorstop - 21 April 2023

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister Kearney's Doorstop at Kardinia Health, Geelong on new Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinic in Geelong; pelvic mesh health care

The Hon Ged Kearney MP
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

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GED KEARNEY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Good morning everybody, and thanks for coming. My name is Ged Kearney and I'm the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care. And I'm here with the Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles, and my good friend Libby Coker, Member for Corangamite, and our great colleagues from Kardinia Health. We're here because this wonderful super clinic has been nominated as one of the 20 right around the country that will provide specialist services with federal government funding to women who suffer with pelvic pain and, importantly, endometriosis. We know that one in nine women suffer with endometriosis but it takes on average seven years to be diagnosed. Too often, women who present with pelvic pain are not believed, they get an eye roll from their friends and their community, and too often from medical professionals and told that women just have to suffer with pelvic pain - that's just part of life. Well, we know that's simply not true, because once a diagnosis is made, there are definitive treatments and women can get on with their lives. So that's why the Australian Government has invested $16 million for clinics right around the country. And one of them right here in Geelong, which we are very thrilled about. It means that women can come here, they will be believed, they can get treatment and they can get on with their lives. It's a really great initiative and I'm very proud to be here. I'm going to ask Libby Coker to say a few words now, and then we'll hear from the Deputy Prime Minister.


LIBBY COKER, MEMBER FOR CORANGAMITE: Thank you Ged. One in nine women suffering from endometriosis is significant and for many years, endometriosis has been a hidden condition. It is debilitating, it impacts on women's lives, it stops them from achieving and it also is important in terms of our productivity that women can do their best in terms of the workforce and in their ability to have children. This does also impact fertility and we've heard that today and it's so important that we do better. So our government has recognised that this is an issue and I'm so pleased, having advocated for this. I have many women that have come to me about this issue, that now they can come locally. It is for the wider Geelong region, it will take in the southwest of Victoria, all of Geelong, the Bellarine, the Surf Coast. Women can now come and have their condition diagnosed so that they can lead a really productive life. So I'm so pleased to be part of this announcement today. Thanks Ged for all you've done with this and I'd like to now hand over to my friend and neighbour, member from the division of Corio, Richard Marles.


RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MEMBER FOR CORIO: Thank you, Libby and it's great to be here today with Libby, who, along with me, represents this region in the Federal Parliament. Great to be here with our Assistant Minister for Health Ged Kearney, thank you for coming down and making this wonderful announcement for our community. And it's also great to be here with Michelle from Kardinia Health and Carly, who has been really generous today in telling her story in terms of her battle with endometriosis. And what's really clear, particularly listening to Carly, and you'll have the opportunity to talk to Carly in a moment, is how there is a real struggle for women around diagnosis. Seven years on average, before being diagnosed is just too long and what that occasions is a whole lot of trauma associated with the stigma, a sense of guilt around what this condition is, the symptoms that people are experiencing before they get that firm diagnosis and what was really striking to me as I listen to Carly describe her journey with endometriosis is really it has been, for her, a journey of enlightenment around the condition, which was obviously very painful and very difficult. But having that enlightenment has enabled Carly to be able to make the decision she's had to make in terms of her own health and getting that information earlier will make such a huge difference for women suffering from this condition and that's absolutely what this centre and this clinic is all about and what this funding is about, not just here in Geelong, but throughout Victoria and indeed the nation. So, as a Government, we are really proud to be supporting this program across Australia, as the two local members here, Libby and I, are absolutely thrilled that Kardinia Health here in Geelong will be one of the three sites in Victoria where we will have a clinic of this kind.


JOURNALIST: Will there be any increase to Jobseeker, youth allowance or Commonwealth Rent Assistance in next month's budget?


MARLES: Well, we've received the report earlier in the week. Obviously, there are a lot of competing pressures on the Budget. What Australians can be completely sure of is that the Budget, which will be handed down in a few weeks’ time, will be completely focused around the cost of living pressures which are being felt by Australian households. It's going to be a fiscally responsible Budget, but there will be measures in the Budget which go to alleviating circumstances for the most vulnerable and Australians can be assured of that.


JOURNALIST: And Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor has accused the Government of getting ahead of itself when it comes for them being on board with all 51 recommendations. How confident are you that these reforms, which require legislative change, will get the support they need to pass on?


MARLES: Ultimately, this is a matter for the opposition. But the review of the RBA is a really significant review of our central bank. It makes a lot of really significant recommendations which are around a more effective governance of the Reserve Bank, making sure that we bring the best experts to bear when we're talking about decisions around monetary policy and every Australian right now knows how significant those decisions are at the Reserve Bank Board on a monthly basis. I mean, these are sensible recommendations and we would hope that the opposition makes the adult and sensible decision to support them. Ultimately, it's going to be a matter for the opposition. What we've consistently seen from the opposition since May of last year is that when there is a choice between going the low political road or operating in the interests of the Australian people, sadly, they're always going for the politics. We hope they don't do that in this instance and they actually make the decision to support the Government's position in implementing what has been a really important review of our central bank. Because at the end of the day, we want the world's best central bank in making the really important decisions around monetary policy which affect the household budgets of Australian people.


JOURNALIST: A bit more on topic, I'm sorry. Will people be treated for pelvic mesh injuries at these clinics, given many patients have trouble getting their pain taken seriously?


KEARNEY: Yes, I completely understand the issue that you've raised and it is a very serious issue for many women who have had pelvic mesh inserted. Of course, in the first instance, this would be an ideal place for women to come. It is a place where pelvic pain is understood. They run an excellent women's health clinic here. They have experts in women's health and particularly in pelvic pain. So, definitely would advise women to come here in the first instance. It may be, of course, that they might have to be referred on to gynaecologists or other specialists but I think this a great first place to come.


CARLY STAFFORD, PATIENT: I think it's a great opportunity. I hope that women, especially regionally, I think it's a great opportunity for women regionally to access these sorts of resources and I know early intervention is a key for endometriosis and a diagnosis and being able to find other ways of treating this disorder that will actually help you live a very healthy and full life. As we know, as a suffer of endometriosis, it really does impact your daily life and it does have long term effects. So any opportunity to have resources available, to have a variety ideal of treatments that are just not pain relief, that there's actually other ways of doing that through physio, through CBT, through other measures, I think it's an absolute wonderful opportunity. I would like to thank you so much for funding an initiative like this and I really encourage women out there that if you have discomfort or have that pain, please do come and seek these resources, because they're available, and we need to be using them so people understand that there's quite a few of us out there that are suffering, and we don't need to be. Thank you.


JOURNALIST: Thanks very much.


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