Radio interview with Assistant Minister Kearney and Ali Moore, ABC Melbourne Drive - 18 January 2024

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister Kearney's interview on endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics.

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

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ALI MOORE, JOURNALIST: The Federal Government announced a $2 million grant to help women with endometriosis. It's part of a bigger package announced as part of last year's budget. The Assistant Minister for Health and Age Care is Ged Kearney. Ged, welcome to the program.

GED KEARNEY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Thanks so much, Ali.

MOORE: Endometriosis affects, one in nine women. How far is this going to go?

KEARNEY: This is part of a $58.3 million package, a massive investment in women's health in Australia. It's to help women suffering with endometriosis and pelvic pain. The majority of that money has gone to opening 22 endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics right around the country.

This $2 million grant has been going to some organisations, who have already been doing some fantastic work in this area, but it's going to help them really focus on things like reaching out to migrant groups, to First Nation groups, to LGBTIQA+ communities, who might slip through the cracks and might not really be accessing the services properly.

It will go to develop programs that will help workplaces understand endometriosis and how it affects women in the workplace. It will also help extend an existing mentoring program where women who are diagnosed with endometriosis will in fact be able to have someone help them through the journey.

MOORE: Thank you for giving us a fulsome answer and allowing me to recover my voice. So, it's $2 million and it was announced as part of last year's budget. Is there more funding to come?

KEARNEY: This is still part of that $58.3 million that we announced in the last budget. We have just allocated that last $2 million to those organisations. That's Endometriosis Australia, who already does wonderful work around this and have several other grants going to them to continue their wonderful work. It's going to ACE, the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis. And, and it's going to a wonderful organization called QENDO, which we'll be doing the mentoring, but which also does lots of other wonderful work.

I guess it's a top up if you like.

MOORE: It's taken quite a while though, hasn't it? I suppose if it was announced at last year's budget, we're almost getting to starting to talk about this year's budget.

KEARNEY: We had to go through a tender process and these things do take time, unfortunately. We are glad we are here now.

All of our endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics are well and truly up and running, and they have been incredibly successful.

With this last bit of this package going to these organisations, they'll be able to direct women to those clinics, so they get the treatment that they deserve.

MOORE: You're listening to Ged Kearney, who's the Federal Assistant Health Minister.

Ged Kearney, we've spoken a lot about a different topic on this program in the last couple of days - about pill testing. It's been trailed in the ACT, it's been trailed in Queensland. The government here in Victoria's a pretty firm ‘no’.

Do you have thoughts on pill testing?

KEARNEY: Firstly, I know that there have recently been some young people who have been made very ill through taking pills and that they're in hospitals. I send my thoughts to their families and to those people. I hope they're doing okay.

This is an issue for the Victorian government, Ali, first up. This is very much a state issue, but we know that best way to avoid an overdose is of course to not to take illicit substances. We also know that people still take drugs no matter what - particularly young people.

You know, I was a nurse in a former life and I have seen firsthand in hospital the effects of overdoses, of taking bad drugs. Whatever we are doing right now isn't working.

I personally welcome the new Premier's approach to say she's willing to look at the evidence and to look at other avenues available to stop people really risking their lives.

MOORE: You made the point there that it's very much a state issue. Is there an argument for a national approach to something like this? Why should it be up to each state to have different levels of a harm reduction program? The ACT has a pill testing operation, Queensland is trialling one. Is there an argument for a national approach?

KEARNEY: Well, you know we are blessed with the federation, Ali, as you know, and all the trials and tribulations that come with that. But, if down the track the health ministers of the states wanted to bring it to a national forum then I'm sure that we would never knock back a conversation about these things.

MOORE: Well, it'll be interesting to see what happens. Of course, we are blessed with a federation, as you put it.

Ged Kearney. I know you've got to get on a plane. Thank you very much for joining.

KEARNEY: I do. My pleasure, Ali. Thank you.

MOORE: Ged Kearney, the federal Assistant Health Minister there.

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