Joel Fitzgibbon has organised a visit to Cessnock Mens Shed to meet with members and volunteers to discuss how they celebrated Mens Shed Week.
Mr Fitzgibbon said that Mens Sheds are a vital service and a key source of support for men in communities across Australia.
Mens Sheds provide a welcome refuge. They are a place where men can find something meaningful and enjoyable to do whilst making new mates, learning new skills and having a great time.
Unfortunately, men who are experiencing problems such as retirement or relationship breakdown are less likely to talk about what is on their mind.
At a Mens Shed like this one here in Cessnock Mens Shed they find a safe environment where they can make themselves busy.
Mr Fitzgibbon noted that Mens Shed week was another reminder that we have a long way to go in improving mens health outcomes.
Men are less likely to see their Doctor and seek help when needed. They take more risks, drink at riskier levels and are more likely to suffer from chronic disease.
Unfortunately, the Coalitions health cuts are not helping to reverse these trends.
They have frozen the Medicare rebate meaning that Doctors will increasingly be forced to abandon bulk billing and increase out of pocket expenses for patients. This will further discourage people who are already reluctant to see their GP to get a check-up.
It gets worse; the Coalitions cuts to bulk billing incentives for pathology and x-rays mean that many people will avoid getting these tests. We are already having difficulty getting men to do so, even though it may save their life.
On top of that prostate cancer treatment can leave men paying thousands of dollars, even if they are insured. There is evidence of significant numbers of men opting not to be treated because of these out of pocket costs.
These are the sorts of issues that we need to address. Mens Shed week is a welcome reminder that this Government needs to change its approach if we are going to get anywhere in improving mens health in Hunter.