10 February 2022

I rise to address the House about a topic we seldom speak about—a topic that many people avoid and people speak about quietly, hoping no-one will overhear. I want to talk about menopause. A hundred per cent of women experience menopause; 75 per cent have symptoms; 28 per cent have severe symptoms that impact wellbeing and their work ability. For many women, it's a confronting experience. It can feel like it draws a line under your life as a young woman, and it can brutally dash any plans or hopes to have children. It can make women feel invisible—like this major health experience, which means that you can't sleep well, which creates significant pain and which impacts many other parts of the body and its functions, doesn't really matter.

By not talking about menopause, we contribute to its stigma and the loneliness many women feel as they navigate these silent waters alone. Like so many women's health issues, many women have to go from doctor to doctor, looking for someone who takes the time, asks the right questions and simply gets it. This is true across endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, vaginismus, and a whole host of other women's health issues. Women deserve a health system that understands their needs, their bodies and their experiences—period.

Giving a speech on menopause after a night spent fighting for the rights of trans kids and protecting people from religious vilification reminds us all of the importance of speaking up. This issue and the issues we give airtime to are important.