Talking notes - Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Senator the Michaelia Cash

5 Mar 2014

Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women

Launch of the Australian Medical Association’s position statement Women’s Health 2014

My thanks to Dr Hambleton for inviting me to be here today.

I am delighted to be here, and co-launching with Senator Nova Peris, the AMA’s women’s health position statement.

We all know that women and men experience different health issues.

The leading causes of disease burden for women of all ages are musculoskeletal disorders (17%), cancer (15%) and mental and behavioural disorders (14%).

In Australia there are 771 cases of cervical cancer per annum and 232 deaths from cervical cancer every year.

And just as women and men have different experiences, so too do different groups of women.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are four times more likely than non-Indigenous women to have diabetes.

Women who speak a language other than English at home are less likely to participate in breast screening.

There is no question that the health of Australian women needs to be a priority across the community.

I am very pleased to also see the recognition of the diverse needs of Australian women in AMA’s stated priorities.

And I am delighted to see highlighted the issue of violence against women.

It is no secret that eliminating violence against women is a subject very close to my heart.

When a woman experiences violence it impacts on every aspect of her life.

For too long violence against women – particularly in the domestic sphere – has been considered a private matter, not a matter for the justice system.

Every medical practitioner, every teacher, every work colleague or family member of a woman who has experienced violence – often at the hands of someone she knows – knows that the impacts reverberate across the community.

The Coalition Government is firmly committed to a zero tolerance position on violence against women and their children.

During our election campaign we made an undertaking – in black and white – to implementing the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 and to ensuring that its programmes are properly resourced and effective.

I am currently working closely with Minister Andrews and State and Territory Ministers on the development of the Second Action Plan under the National Plan.

And I am very pleased to be actively engaging with a range of stakeholders on this issue.

I believe that one of the key strengths of the Second Action Plan will be engaging governments and the community across the full range of portfolio interests.

As a peak medical body, I very much look forward to AMA collaborating with governments and with civil society to advocate for improved service pathways and support for women and children.

Equally importantly, the AMA has a critical role to play in changing attitudes and behaviours that enable violence against women to continue.

The AMA’s position on women’s health has always been important to the Coalition.

And this is reflected in the Coalition’s long history in supporting improved health outcomes for women.

Tony Abbott, as a senior Minister in the Howard Coalition Government, was a strong advocate for improving women’s health in the wider community.

And we committed $6.429 million over seven years (from 2008-2015) to breastfeeding education, training and support.

Under the Coalition both Anastrozole and Herceptin were listed on the PBS for treatment of early stage breast cancer.

Our commitment continues.

Recognising the devastating impact that cancer has on the lives of those affected, we are improving cancer treatment capacity throughout Australia.

We are providing funding to hospitals such as the Frankston hospital in Victoria and towards a Cancer Support Clinic at the Katherine Hospital.

We are providing $29.8 million in operational and programme funding to Cancer Australia and continuing to fund the National Health and Medical Research Council for research.

In each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness.

The Coalition has an unrivalled record in the support and funding it has provided Australians suffering from mental health issues.

The Howard Government introduced the Better Access to Mental Health initiative in 2006.

This $1.9 billion initiative was Australia’s largest ever mental health boost at the time and provided for the establishment of headspace.

We will continue to build on the progress made by the Howard Government to support the most vulnerable in our community.

We are providing $18 million over four years to Orygen Youth Health Research Centre to establish the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

We will also continue to expand headspace to 100 centres across Australia.

And we will, of course, continue to provide support to women who experience mental illness.

We have also committed $20 million over four years from 2013-14 through the Access to Allied Psychological Services program, to provide psychological treatment to women experiencing perinatal depression.

The Coalition Government is investing in all areas of health care, and I have provided just some examples today.

Again, I thank the AMA and Dr Hambleton for the opportunity to be here today.

And I congratulate you for, yet again, putting the health and wellbeing of Australian men and women at the forefront of your policy agenda.

Media Contacts


 02 6270 5478
 0427 209 753

Follow the AMA

‌ @AustralianMedicalAssociation