Topics: $12 million to combat prostate cancer; Julie Bishop; gender representation in the Liberal Party.
I’m really delighted to be here today at Movember headquarters with Paul Villanti and the extraordinary team. People such as Alan and Rob and Joe, who are all prostate cancer survivors and thrivers.
This condition is very personal. My father-in-law lost his battle with prostate cancer. My father out survived his battle with prostate cancer. He lived to 86 and he said if he lived until 120, he was going to beat prostate cancer. My older brother currently is on his own journey and in the active monitoring phase. So, our family is like so many Australian families that have been touched by prostate cancer.
We know that those individual stories translate to over 17,500 Australians who are diagnosed with cancer each year. We lose 3500 men to this condition every year. And almost 100,000 are living with prostate cancer. And we’re fortunate to have one of the world’s highest survival rates at almost 95 per cent over five years.
So, there’s good and bad news. The bad news is the incidents, the good news is the survival rate and the awareness. And it’s in that context that Movember plays such an incredible role. This is a great Australian philanthropic institution focussed on men’s health, focussed on prostate cancer awareness and treatment and research and focussed on testicular cancer awareness and research and treatment. All of these things come together.
And I suspect most Australians wouldn’t realise that Movember is now in 21 countries and it’s closing in on $1 billion of funds that have been raised. What an extraordinary, amazing Australian achievement. As Paul said, not bad for two blokes having a beer in a Fitzroy pub.
So, against that background, we’re bringing together the Australian Government’s work on prostate cancer research and treatment and Movember’s amazing leadership. So, I am delighted to announce that together the Australia Government and Movember will contribute $12 million for a new prostate cancer research alliance.
This will open for calls by the end of October. And what we’re looking for is two big things. One better diagnosis and treatment to help more Australian men detect prostate cancer and treat prostate cancer earlier and better research to understand the causes, the triggers and the pathways that will allow for ultimately new medicines, new types of surgery, new types of radiation therapy. So all the different means of dealing with prostate cancer to boost the survival rates towards the 100 per cent level.
Because in the end, if we’ve got to 95 per cent, we can get to 100 per cent. And my goal and our goal is for Australia to become the first country in the world that prostate cancer moves from a potential death sentence to a chronic disease. And that would be a world-leading example.
So today, $12 million to help fight prostate cancer, bringing together the Australian Government, the extraordinary leadership of Paul and the team at Cancer Australia, and this Paul and his team at Movember to help Australian males seek their assistance and seek their own treatment at the earliest possible time. Paul, thank you. Over to you.
Thank you, Minister. Today really is a great day for Australian men with prostate cancer, and their families. Since 2004, the Movember Foundation alongside the Australian Government really has made terrific progress improving the lives of men with prostate cancer. We have built a world-class research teams, we have funded together an unprecedented number of breakthrough discoveries. But the job is not done yet.
The challenge now is to take the best of those discoveries and bring them to the clinic so that our fathers, our brothers, our cousins, our mates, our grandfathers, no longer die from prostate cancer. So by joining forces for this $12 million prostate cancer alliance with the Australian Government, we’re going to get the job done faster. And that’s what Movember is about – to stop men dying too young. So, we look forward to working with the Australian Government, with Cancer Australia, to move to a world, as the minister says, where Australia can- Australian men can live and not die with prostate cancer.
For minister or for Paul, but where’s the money most going to be used?
So, it will really be in two major areas, what it will do is it will focus on the better diagnosis and treatment. In particular that’s about speed, getting the potential prostate cancer sufferers to early diagnosis and early treatment. And we’re always looking at improving treatments and then focusing on the research. And what we’ll do is we will go for a public call for applications. And ultimately we’re looking for three research groups that are likely to have funding of $1 million a year each over a period of four years.
Is there a particular part of the demographic, obviously it’s men, but a particular part of that area that you’d like to take?
Yeah, look, I think one of the big challenges that we really face now is that in about 30 per cent of cases men that are treated for prostate cancer, their disease progresses. So, really one of the tough challenges that we’re trying to tackle is how do we identify those men at high risk of the disease and really treat them more effectively and faster so that those 30 per cent don’t go on and progress to advanced disease.
In addition to that, we’ve made really great progress in developing new ideas around tests and treatments for men with advanced disease, so the challenge is also to the Australian local research community to turn those ideas into new tests and treatments and save men’s lives.
Are you feeling positive about the future in that area?
Yeah look, I think Australia- we have the privilege of working out of 21 countries and we see the Australian community, research community is really making an enormous global contribution. And Movember is a global charity; we can connect the leaders in Australia with the leaders in other countries to get results faster. And that’s the beauty of collaboration not only within Australia but globally, you can get results faster than any group doing it on their own.
And one of the things is – Australia now has the equal highest cancer survival rate across all cancers of any country in the world. We’re at 69 per cent over five years, but we want to keep increasing that and keeping improving the quality of life that the work of Movember in early detection, the work of our researches in better treatment, means that not just in prostate cancer but right across the field, we can be a world leader. We’re already at the fore front in the world in our overall survival rates, as well as our prostate cancer survival rates.
Couple of questions not related to this. Julie Bishop spoke out today about the appalling behaviour within Parliament, including of her own colleagues, do you take that on board?
Look, I have drawn from Julie’s comments, I think they’re extremely important. There can be no (inaudible), no acceptance, no place for bullying of any kind, in any workplace, in particular, within the parliamentary environment. So, I think her comments are extremely valuable and extremely important.
And there has to be a zero tolerance approach. The other thing is, of course, on that front, the Prime Minister has directly and specifically engaged in looking at very, very closely, any of the issues or complaints on this part, and I welcome what he is doing and I think it’s important. So both played an important role.
Do you agree with her that there’s bullying within Parliament House that wouldn’t be accepted in any other workplace. Do you agree with that?
Look, I think that the parliamentary environment can and must continue to improve, there’s no question about that. But this applies to every workplace across the country and we have to have an absolutely laser-like focus to ensure that there is no place, no role and no practice.
What about her view that it’s unacceptable for 25 per cent of Liberal MPs are women?
Look, I think we need to have more women. I know that over the years, I’ve been able to support- sometimes successfully, sometimes not- magnificent candidates like Katie Allen or Kate Ashmor, who‘ve just been pre-selected at state level. I know that Sarah Henderson and Georgina Downer, I was a referee for each of them.
And so many others that I’ve been able to see such as Jane Hume coming through. So, wherever possible, at a personal level, it’s been something that I’ve been deeply supportive of. I think our end goal is a very clear one, 50 per cent at the very least. So, there’s a balance there.
And then secondly, I know within my Health portfolio, we’ll soon have new boards in Cancer Australia and in other areas that will have 50 per cent or more of women. And only yesterday, we announced the new board for National Mental Health Council with over three-quarters female leadership.
Would it help if more women were given seats that were safe?
I think we need women in every different type of seat, in the House, in the Senate, and safe and in marginal. I think our goal is very clear, which is why at a personal level it has been one of my missions, as I say, having worked with Katie Allen and Kate Ashmor, Sarah Henderson and Sarah Meredith, Jane Hume and Georgina Downer, just to name a few.
Where I see that as part of the role of some of the more senior males to be saying this isn’t something just for males. In any football comp, as somebody said to me, your team won’t be as good if half the players are in the dressing room. Okay, thank you.