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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7877

Mr DREYFUS (9:33 AM) —Two weeks ago I conducted a women’s health forum in my electorate. The forum was conducted with the excellent assistance of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health. The forum was designed to raise awareness of the federal government’s review of the National Women’s Health Policy and to seek the contribution of local women on the content of the policy.

There has been a National Women’s Health Policy for approximately 20 years. Women and some men in our community were very keen to contribute their ideas on the policy review and on issues relevant to women’s health in the 21st century. I specifically invited women living in the more culturally diverse areas of my electorate, as I believe that some women from migrant communities have not had sufficient opportunity to contribute to public policy. The forum was conducted in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere which encouraged participation. A major benefit of the forum was the interaction of women from different cultural backgrounds, expressing and sharing their views with each other and with professionals from local health organisations.

I was very fortunate to have the assistance of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health in facilitating and presenting the principal session of the forum. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Helena Teede, Director of Research, Jean Hailes Foundation and head of the diabetes unit at Southern Health, and Janet Michelmore AO, Director of The Jean Hailes Foundation, for their assistance and contribution. I would also like to thank Tricia Elliott, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Health in the South-East, and Councillor Pinar Yesil, Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, for their wonderful and in some instances moving contributions to the forum. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them.

This forum is one of two health forums I have held this year. Earlier in the year I conducted a similar forum on men’s health. Both forums were very well attended and very well received. The eagerness of people in our community to contribute to policy issues on health reflects the need for the health system to be reviewed and brought into the 21st century. It is notable that at both forums very many people spoke about the importance of relationships with doctors, particularly building a strong relationship with a general practitioner. There was a real recognition of the role played by GPs and community health centres in preventative health, which of course is one of the focuses of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission report.

The government is investing heavily in fixing the problems in our health system and, as a member of this parliament, I am committed to ensuring that the reform of the health system meets the needs of all Australians. I am encouraged that so many people in our community want to contribute to the process of health reform. I was encouraged by the way in which so many people attended both the forum on women’s health and the forum on men’s health and participated at those forums. I will encourage people in our community to contribute to the process that the government has embarked on of reforming the health system.