Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Men's Health Gathering 2015 (Australia) --- Day Two

Glen Poole, Director of Helping Men (UK), is in Australia to deliver a series of talks, trainings and workshop.

You can find out about the training that is of offer from Helping Men in Australia here

You can see our blog about Day One of the gathering here

This week he's at the 2015 National Men's Health Gathering in Terrigal, Central Coast, New South Wales.

The event combines two conferences: the 11th National Men’s Health Conference and the  8th National Aboriginal and Torres Island Strait Male Health Convention

It runs until Friday at the Crowne Plaza, Terrigal NSW Plaza. This year’s them is Sharing the Knowledge: Male health is everyone’s business.

3.30 pm

There are five concurrent sessions this afternoon including:

  • Aboriginal cultural workshop focusing on spiritually guiding young men
  • Men's health promotion with presentations from Mates In Construction, Dr Neil Hall on Over 35s football and men's wellbeing,  and the Men's Sheds experience
  • Men's Mental Wellbeing, including a session on mindfulness, a session on depression in young men and a presentation on an Aboriginal men's depression support group 
  • A session of Royal Commission on childhood sexual abuse and how it is responding to Aboriginal men

I've attended the session with the following three national and state paper presentations:
  • The Brazilian and Australian men's health policies
  • A documentary on masculinity and mental health
  • Behind the seen---the impact of PTSD amongst emergency services responders 
1.30 p.m.

Julian Krieg, AMHF President, presides over the official opening of the 11th National Men's Health Conference.

This session includes a key presentation from Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia and President Elect of the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

Moore says we shouldn't talk about "equality" we should talk about "equity" when it comes to men's health.

I disagree, we should talk about both.

Equality is objective and measurable. Equity is subjective and open to never-ending debate and disagreement.

How do we know where we need to take action to address men and boy's health and wellbeing is we don't first measure which types of men are experiencing inequality and where they are unequal?

Moore shares his 10 steps to influencing politicians and policy, which seem to be based on Kotter change theory.

Advocacy: 10 Steps To Influence 
  1. Establishing a sense of urgency
  2. Creating the guiding coalition
  3. Developing and maintaining influential relationship
  4. Developing a change vision
  5. Communicating the vision for buy in
  6. Empowering broad-based action
  7. Being opportunistic
  8. Generating short-term wins
  9. Never letting up
  10. Incorporating changes into the culture
Good question in the Q&A session from Anthony Brown (Men's Health Information & Resource Centre). He asks what he can we do to ensure NGOs and others name "men's health" and talk about it?

Moore promises: "You'll start to hear me talking about men's health both nationally and internationally".
AM: Cultural Visits

The morning was dedicated to cultural visits. I went on a site visit that was masterfully hosted by Stuart McMinn, Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Male Health Conference, a man wise beyond his years. More on this later.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Men's Health Gathering 2015 (Australia)---Day One

Glen Poole, Director of Helping Men (UK), is in Australia to deliver a series of talks, trainings and workshop.

You can find out about the training that is of offer from Helping Men in Australia here

This week he's at the 2015 National Men's Health Gathering in Terrigal, Central Coast, New South Wales.

The event combines two conferences: the 11th National Men’s Health Conference and the  8th National Aboriginal and Torres Island Strait Male Health Convention

It runs until Friday at the Crowne Plaza, Terrigal NSW Plaza. This year’s them is Sharing the Knowledge: Male health is everyone’s business

3.30pm: Panel Session, how do we ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health is everyone’s business?

Panel Chair: Steve Ella, Manager, Nunyana Aboriginal Health


--- Professor Noel Hayman, Director, Inala

--- Dr Mark Wenitong, Adjunct Associate Professor, James Cook University, School of Tropical Public Health
---Alfie Walker Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Baptistcare

3.00 pm: Afternoon Tea

1.30 pm: 

Now for a range of concurrent afternoon sessions including:
The AOD Sessions chaired by Matt Stubbs:
  • “The Glen” – We don’t only talk about the problem, we offer a solution
  •  Matthew Simmons, The Glen, Glen Collis
  • Two arms – one service, Gerard Byrne, Salvation Army
The working with young males and community sessions, chaired by Stuart McMinn:
  • It’s a sad day: broken dreaming, young males and community response, Sharn Bergan, Regional Youth Support Services Inc
  • Something that’s working! A program to keep indigenous youth out of detention, Chris Krogh,  Evaluator, Indigenous Justice Support Program, Regional Youth Support Services Inc.
  • Good Sports – working to help create healthier men, healthier clubs and healthier communities, Marc Glanville, Northern NSW Regional Manager – Good Sports, Australian
The session I'm heading to is a Cultural Workshop chaired by Kim Hopkins. It's called: reconnecting our past, securing out future – intergenerational trauma and healing in an aboriginal community and is presented by BJ Duncan, Chair of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council. 

The talk focuses on how the Land Council fights for rights of Aboriginal land owners in the local area.

Fascinating conversation taking place here---why do we place so much focus on economic and educational equality while ignoring the potential to make indigenous young people's richer culturally and spiritually, asks one delegate?

We do live in both worlds, says BJ Duncan, the black world and white world and white people get very threatened when we match them economically

12.30 pm: LUNCH

11.45 am:

Addressing and responding to male youth suicide: Healing Holistically – Keeping our campfires burning forever---Robert Eggington, Director of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Community.

A deeply moving presentation and personal testimony covering suicide, sexual abuse and grief, problems which Robert says goes "unseen, unheard and by many in this country, turned away".

Robert highlights the problem of Aboriginal child suicide----the youngest know case happening at just 8 years old. 

11.30 am: 

I-bobbly – using technology to prevent Aboringial youth suicide, Joseph Tighe, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales

Interesting stat, the average 18 year old indigenous male is 7x more likely to kill himself than a non-indigenous male.

Interesting evaluation of the development of a Phone App for use in suicide prevention in indigenous community in Broome, Western Australia.

11.00 am: Plenary Session: Aboriginal Youth Engagement, Chair Stuart McMinn

This sesssion starts with traditional dance performance by the Mingaletta Aboriginal Corporation Dance and Didgeridoo Group. At the end of the performance: we don’t have a word for goodbye because if we don’t see you again in this lifetime we’ll see you again in dreamtime.

10.30 am: Morning Tea Break

9.30 am: 

Keynote speech from Associate Professor Gregory Phillips, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute. The title of the speech is: Freedom: What does it mean to act as a strong, healthy black man?

Colonialism affects the oppressed and the oppressor and the people who watch it (and I know it’s not as simple as that), says Phillips.

Epidemiology and the tools of public health can be detrimental to aboriginal health because they treat indigenous people as a problem---the deficit mode;

There’s long been a belief that “if we taught white fellas our culture they would magically love us and our services would improve”.

For too long indigenous people have tried to tell white people what to do (eg develop policies for indigenous people) and white people have been telling indigenous people what to do.

While teaching white people about indigenous culture is important, it doesn’t work on its own.

Those who are ready to hear it, hear it and those who are not ready to hear, get angry and blame the teachers for being racist (i.e. you’re racist to me because your talking about colonisation).

More on this later........

Indigenous people should focus on teaching culture to “our own mob” and
“white fellas” should deal with their part of the equation is dealing with racism.

Mainstream conversations about indigenous health tend to focus on “naughty Aboriginal” who miss their health appointments and “naughty men” who need more counseling.

The public health system produces sickness because it fails ot address the power imbalance in health in Australia, says Phillips. This isn’t just wrong for Aboriginals, it’s wrong for white fellas he says, because it’s not addressing the unlevel playing field.

As a comparison, Phillips mentions that when the AFL decided it wanted to get women involved in the sport (Australian Rules Football) employed a women (he emphasizes the fact that it was just one woman).

Her job was not jus to get women interested in the sport, but also to educate all the blokes about the sexism and male privilege.

As an aside, he makes clear he’s not saying that all women are good and men are bad, it’s not that simple, but that some bloke’s sexism in the sport was a barrier to women.

He says it should have been the men’s responsibility to address this barrier and in the same way, he says, it is the responsibility of white people to address the institutional racism that impact son Aboriginal health.

He says meritocracy is a myth for Aboriginal people. He says the way you define the problem is how you define the solution. He says the question of power imbalance is never taken into account --- and cites the negative response to Adam Goodes' Aboriginal goal-scoring celebrations as an example of the lack of power Aboriginal people have to express their culture in White society.

He says the statistics are there to make out that Aboriginals are all bad, mad and sad---but when do we talk about strengths? When do we talk about what Aboriginal men can teach white men about how to father, for example.

Aboriginal people are the oldest culture in the world and have the knowledge that the worlds need, the ability to adapt and survive---a knowledge that is becoming increasingly for an international community faced with climate change.

It suits those in power to maintain a negative narrative about “naughty Aboriginal people who need to stop drinking” for example, he says.

He moves on to talk about Whiteness, by which he means a set of values and beliefs---a mind set of power and privilege which promotes neo-liberalism as the only way of thinking and presents science as purely objective and not a cultural concept.

There’s a lot of black people who have taken on values of whiteness because we are colonised and we’re all still recovering form colonisation, he says. We are still emerged from “the mouth of the snake”.  

He references a theory of "whiteness"---as in white values, not skin colour---that references eight different ways of being:

  • White Supremacist---advocates for society that preserves, names and values white "superiority" 
  • White Voyeurist---doesn't challenge white supremacism but finds non-whiteness fascinating, exotic, interesting and pleasurable 
  • White Privilege---critiques white supremacy, maintains view of "fairness" and "equality" the normalise "whiteness"---may have goal of "diversity" within white systems
  • White Benefit---privately sympathetic to anti-racist views, but won't speak out or take action because benefits from whiteness
  • White Confessional---feels guilty after the fact and seeks validation from black people
  • White Critical---takes on critiques of whiteness, challenges white authority/regime 
  • White Traitor---refuses to be complicit with and subverts white privilege and authority 
  • White Abolitionist---dismantles regime of whiteness, changes white institutions 

He says when the elder did the traditional song in his welcome this morning, he could hear his song and he could hear the strength of the culture that can survive from the onslaught of colonisation, but he can feel that the suffering cause d by colonisation is still having and impact---and that’s what’s in the way of Aboriginal health improving

That stuff, he says,  is white people’s work to do, not the work of indigenous people.

He draws a parallel with gender, saying that the work being done with men is making the world safer for women and that it’s not women’s responsibility to do this work

He says white people need to refuse to be complicit in white privilege in the way that men need to refuse to be complicit in five centuries of male privilege.

He says I don’t know why white people ended up here in Australia but maybe colonisation happened because we have something to teach each other

Maybe non-Aboriginal people need to learn love off Aboriginal people.

In a classic domestic violence relationship the man is the one with physical power, mental power and the power of male privilege, he says.

In that relationship he blames her and conversely she blames him---it becomes “he said, she said”.

Yes the man is sick in that relationship, he says, but so is the woman, through no fault of her own, she becomes sick as well.It’s a sick power relationship where over time both become sick

And that’s what’s happening with black and white people, he says. We’re blaming each other. Colonisation is continuing, not through shooting and violent oppression as was once the case, but through white values of motivations---and over time Aboriginal people become sick in that relationship.

Over time we think we deserve nothing better, he says.We blame them and they  blame us.

Of course genocide is a type of domestic violence, he says.  It creates a sick power relationship where the two parties blame each other relentlessly.

I’m interested in how we get out of the sick power imbalance.

The way we do that is the work you (the delegates working with indigenous men) are doing.  Working with our own mob, working with culture

And what people need to do is to go and work “with your own people” about racism. I need you to work on level the playing field so we can do Aboriginal health.

I know it’s not that simple and it’s not that clean, he says, but a new spiritual relationship is needed between indigenous and non-indigenous people.  

Finally, he refers a traveler saying that knowledge is acquiring information,
Knowledge is acquiring new information and wisdom is the ability to let go of everything that we’ve ever known.

I can’t say  I agree with everything  said, but it was a fascinating presentation that stretched and challenged my thinking---and will continue to do so for some time, I’m sure.

9.00 am: Opening of the 8th National Aboriginal and Torres Island Strait Male Health Convention

A  traditional welcome to country is delivered by elder “Uncle Gavi” Duncan, followed by a welcome address and conference opening is from Dr Mick Adam, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Edith Cowan University.

Mick’s research portfolio includes male sexual health, reproductive health, suicide, mental health, diabetes,  family violence,  cardiovascular disease, public health, building indigenous research capacity

He has be promoting men’s health and wellbeing for over a decade, both nationally and internationally.

He says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are some of the most linguistically and culturally divers peoples and custodians of some of the most biologically diverse lands---an invaluable resource that benefits all of mankind.

Yet they continue to suffer disadvantage, marginalisation, extreme poverty and conflict, says Mick.. Within this context, neglecting male health not only inefficient and leads to suffering and premature death.

The vision of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males has been to work to overturn negative stereotypes,  ben to take great responsibility themselves and adopt a diverse range of strategies such as running men’s clinics, men’s projects, “men’s business” camps, sports projects, survivors groups , men’s support groups etc.

The delegates present all have a common aim of empowering men, says Mick adding:

“The empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males is crucial to the raising of self esteem, quality of life and spiritual wellbeing. We as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males are often seen as the problem, we are never rewarded for our efforts in providing solutions.”

“You’re all champions, you’re all elders and certainly the backbone of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males,” he concludes.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Your Masculinity Rules Course Available in Melbourne

What are your Masculinity Rules? 

Helping Men's personal development workshop, Your Masculinity Rules, will be delivered in Australia for the first time next month.

The course is designed for men who want to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of themselves. Its aim is to help participants to explore what it means to be a man in the 21stcentury and decide for themselves what their "masculinity rules" are.

Glen Poole, Director of Helping Men, says: "All men have a set of masculinity rules that shape our daily experience of being a man. Yet few of us have made ourselves aware of these rules, let alone questioned where they come from and whether they are helping or hindering us in our daily lives. 

"This course won't tell you how you should live your life, what it will do is provide a unique opportunity to explore what it means to be a man in the 21st century and decide for yourself what Your Masculinity Rules are."

The Your Masculinity Rules workshop will make it's Australian debut in Melbourne courtesy of the Men's Fire Circle in Greensborough on Saturday 28th November, from 9am to 6pm. 

The cost is $145 per man, and includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea. 

You can find out more about the content of the Your Masculinity Rules workshop here

To book your place on this workshop text the facilitator of The Men's Fire Circle, David Mollet, on 0425-773-767. 

Helping Men Get Help In Australia (2015 Workshop Tour)

Helping Men is in Australia to attend the 2015 National Men's Health Gathering and deliver a series of our Helping Men Get Help workshops. 
HELPING MEN GET HELP is a unique training program that’s been designed for professionals who want to help more men and boys access public services and social projects.  

The program is designed for service providers in areas such as health promotion, parenting, education, social care, mental health, support groups, community safety and housing. The course if for anyone concerned with helping men and boys get better access to and outcomes from their existing services, or anyone interested in developing new services and projects for men and boys.

What are the aims of HELPING MEN GET HELP?
To leave you with a broad understanding of the barriers men and boys face and give you the skills & knowledge you need to help men and boys overcome these barriers and access the services and projects you run.

 What will you learn when you attend HELPING MEN GET HELP?
  • How to make a compelling case for targeting your work at men and bo
  • The latest evidence on the barriers that men and boys face
  • A range of tried and tested approaches from around the world
  • How to assess how inclusive and male friendly your service is
  • How to develop an action plan for including men and boys
You can find more information about the key course content here

NATIONAL TOUR DATES | All Programs run from 9.30 – 4 pm

PARRAMATTA Friday November 20 Holiday Inn, 18 – 40 Anderson Street, Parramatta
MELBOURNE Tuesday November 24 Vibe Savoy Hotel 630 Little Collins St. Melbourne 
DEVONPORT Thursday November 26 The Salvation Army 166 William Street, Devonport
WOLLONGONG Wednesday Dec 2 Adina Apartment Hotel, Wollongong
NEWCASTLE, Friday December 4 Joy Cummins Centre, 63 Scott Street Newcastle

The Melbourne/Tasmania dates also include an opportunity to take part in our personal development workshop, Your Masculinity Rules. See this link for details

$260 for one day of training, resources, refreshments and lunch. EARLY BIRD RATE $230 if registration is paid three weeks prior to the training date. 

Click Here for the Registration Form.

All HELPING MEN GET HELP Programs are being administered by Men’s Health Services. 

TO REGISTER JUST COMPLETE THE ATTACHED REGISTRATION FORM and email to training@menshealthservices.com.au or phone txt 0417 772 390 and leave a message indicate your city of chose for the training.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

National Boys Education Conference (Australia) Live Blog--Day Three

Glen Poole, Director of Helping Men (UK), is in Australia to deliver a series of talks, trainings and workshop.

His first stop is the National Boys' Education Conference at Kings School in Parramatta, Sydney.

The conference brings together internationally and nationally acclaimed speakers on the top of boys' welling, character education, and the importance of relationships towards boys' engagement and success as learners.

The conference theme is Inspiring Boys to Learn, you can find out more at the event website here.

Check out our live blog from Day Two here.

Check this page for updates  from Day Three throughout the day.........


The final plenary session is presented by the inspirational head of Kings School, Dr Tim Hawkes.

We need patron saints for boys.

Boys do not always lend themselves to being supported

Men and boys don’t have a great rap and we need a patron saint.

The media is often portraying men and maleness in an unflattering light

We’re getting moodles (man poodles), not masculine, purely for decoration, the man-child refusing to grow up;

Only 1 in 3 millennial men in the USA are heading up their own home. We’re finding too many boys who are refusing to grow up and leave home and be independent. 

Any weakness in boys is usually neutralised by saying girls have weaknesses too. I think that is totally unacceptable says Dr Hawkes.

Only 38% of university enrolments in Australia are male. 

We need patrons for boys. 

When we highlight the need to focus on boys, people say girls have weaknesses too

People say girls underperformance in numeracy is cancelled out by boys underperformance in numeracy.  But the impact of poor literacy skills is underestimated, because it affects all subjects.

People are more interested in equity between people of different social economic statuses, but not gender (when men and boys are unequal)/ 

We are told that men dominate in society and that therefore boys must be dominated. That corollary is an appalling corollary says Dr Hawkes. 

"Castrataion anxieties" is a term being lobbed at anyone who is wanting to advance and be a patron of boys.

We need to understand  what being a male means and to celebrate maleness as a part of the yin and yang  of creation.

Don’t get bound by gender stereotypes, we need to go beyond the macho stereotype and allow psop

With one murder of a woman in a relationship every five days, we need to do something about that.

We need to respect and honour the opposite sex.


Time for the last set of break out workshops. I've decided to spend this with Blair Dravitsk, principal at Ohakune Primary in New Zealand, who is telling us about his Elite Rugby Institute project.

It was established because a particular cohort of Maori boys were under achieving academically. Attendance of some boys was as low as 50%.

A process of investigation revealed that the only two things these boys really valued is Whakapapa (family) and rugby.

The school introduced a new ABC Policy:

Attendance---every learner has attendance of 85% an above (up from a baseline of 50% to 60%)

Behaviour---every learner must display positive behaviour at school, at home and in the community

Commitment---every learner is committed to academic progress and learning in class

Playing rugby gave the boys an opportunity to succeed and fell like a success. Attendance rose to over 90% in the first year of the programme and educational performance across the group of boys rose in line with the national standard.

The rugby also brought the dads into the school.


Had a great conversation with a Sydney teacher over lunch who told me about a "Man Day" he arranged for the boys at his school---sounds great, looking forward to finding out more.

12.09pm: Classroom Demonstrations

There are a load of classroom demonstrations running concurrently. My playful side really, really, REALLY, wanted to go to the session in the drama studio on stage fighting. However, wearing my researcher hat I've come to a Year Five session on empathy.

Here the teacher has been actively working to develop the boys' empathy and emotional intelligence. One of the resources she has drawn upon is an initiative called Start Empathy.

The boys have been doing a listening exercise in pairs and now they are reporting back to the group trying to name to emotions their partner was feeling. The emotions the boys name include: envy, jealousy, fear, worry, sadness, annoyance, confusion, hurt, surprise, nervousness, frustration, happiness and disappointment.

11.30 am: Character Education 

Just finished presenting my own "Lightning Session" on "Evolving Masculinity" in the "Mental Wellbeing" stream and nipped over to the sessions themed "Character Wellbeing".

I only caught the end of Peter Nolan's talk on character building at his school, but here's a link to an article about that programme here.

Next up is Dianne Laycock---you can read a little about her here---and she's representing the International Boys' School Alliance.

Just found Dianne's website here.

She's talking about "maker learning" today.

Last speaker in this sessions is Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, CEO and founder of the Top Blokes Foundation which delivers programmes to boys and young men in schools.

10.45 am

Lightning Sessions

As with yesterday, there are three separate “Lightning Sessions” on the following themes:
  • Relational Learning
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Character Education

Each session comprises around five talks of about 10-12 minutes each. I’ll be presenting in one of these sessions so expect the blogging to slow down a little (and possibly all together).

My session is called “Evolving Masculinity” and is designed to provide a space for delegates to consider how they can support the boys they work with to grow and evolved as individuals who are proud of their own unique expression of masculinity, whatever that is.

10.00 am

Dr Ed Dixon is joined on the stage by 12 school boys for a panel discussion where we hear from the boys what subjects they enjoy and what approaches to teaching work for them. This mostly confirms the key themes of Dr Ed Dixon's keynote.

8.45 am

Today's morning keynote is delivered by Dr Ed Dixon from Canada.

You can find out about his work at the website Helping Boys Learn.

Some initial thoughts:

20% of girls have “male mind” approach to learning

What makes a good learning relationship with boys is he must succeed in your presence.

Boys who value learning improve classroom dynamics

Focus on helping girls in maths in 90s paid off, focus on boys education can may off too. 

Boys of all economic backgrounds are in the lowest quartile of performers.

Boys seem to have this thing about movement from the earliest stages, they are kinaesthetic learners. 

Dr Dixon references an experiment with 10 week old babies given an option to look at a mobile and their mother's face. He says 80% of girls look at mum's face, 80% of boys look at the moving object, the mobile.

One research study into street kids in Brazil showed they were better at working out the weight and cost of scrap metal on the streets, where it mattered but not in classroom settings when the tests had no meaning.

The Six Secrets of Boys Learning

The following six things help boys learn: 
  • Movement
  • Humour
  • Games
  • Challenge
  • Mastery
  • Meaning
Movement---when you put boys into a position where they embody the concept you’re talking about, they are better able to understand what they are talking about.

Games---when boys set and achieve goals they get a testosterone jolt. Boys need wins in a classroom. Games are a great way to engage boys and give them a chance to win. Males

Humour---for boys humour is unbelievably important. When they do surveys on which teachers boys like, humour rates very highly. Humour helps to focus attention, particularly in the moment.  Males use humour as a way to bond with others, it’s coded affection. Humour helps male confront the chaos of the universe.  Humour can take something that’s really large and make it small.

Challenge---Challenges give boys little bursts of testosterone. A good example is to beat the clock, you can get a man to do almost everything if you time it.

Mastery---males want to be coached into a mastery (as Clark Wight discussed in his session on the Obi Wan Kenobi theory. 

Meaning ---  One of the most important questions we need to help boys ask is “what am I good for?”. Every boy has a hero complex, every boy wants to be a hero in some way.