Nationals WA question on-going commitment to men's health

The Nationals WA Shane Love MLA, Martin Aldridge MLC and Mia Davies MLA with the Regional Mens Health Initiative team at Mingenew Midwest Expo.
The Nationals WA Shane Love MLA, Martin Aldridge MLC and Mia Davies MLA with the Regional Mens Health Initiative team at Mingenew Midwest Expo.

Off the back of Men's Health Week 2019, Nationals WA health spokesman Martin Aldridge has called on the state government to more funds into programs helping arrest mental and physical health problems encountered by regional men.

Mr Aldridge said the Regional Men's Health Initiative (RMHI) faces an uncertain future with the recent state budget only allocating future funding until the end of the next financial year.

The Agriculture Region MP said the organisation, along with others such as the men's shed network, were critical to delivering improved health outcomes in the regions.

"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," Mr Aldridge said.

"Their model has been adopted around Australia, yet the RMHI is under threat in WA due to its funding running out in the 2019-20 financial year."

Health Minister Roger Cook said the government is addressing the issue of men's health.

"In the 2019-20 budget the government allocated $188,000 to the Regional Men's Health Initiative to address issues of mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention in men in regional and remote farming communities," he said.

"On Monday as part of Men's Health Week we released the first ever dedicated policy to address health inequities in men.

"The Western Australian Men's Health and Well-being Policy follows extensive research and consultation and provides a road-map to improve the health and well-being of all men and boys in WA."

Mr Aldridge said the strategy 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 state government.

"Given the clear health benefits programs such as the RMHI and men's sheds bring to participants, the 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.