10 projects standing up for Indigenous men's health
This week is National NAIDOC Week (Sunday 3rd July to Sunday 10th July), which celebrates and recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth. The year's theme is: "Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!".
To mark the week, the Australian Men's Health Forum acknowledges all the individuals and organisations that work to improve the lives and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys.
While it would be impossible to acknowledge all the great leaders - past, present and emerging - who have made a difference to Indigenous male health in Australia, we celebrate and pay our respect to them all.
And in the spirit of learning about First Nation cultures, here are just 10 examples of Indigenous organisations focused on men and boys' health.
1. National Ochre Day
Ochre Day is an annual male health conference launched and run by NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) since 2014. It provides a national forum for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male delegates, organisations and communities to share knowledge, design concepts and strengthen relationships that work to directly improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Ochre Day Men’s Health Conference is currently on hold but we look forward to seeing this important event back on the men's health calendar and renewing its mission: "Men's health, our way, let's own it!"
Find out at more on the NACCHO website
2. The Ingkintja Male Health Service
One of the services that NACCHO celebrates as an example of good practice project working with Indigenous men, is the Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara
in Alice Springs. Ingkintja is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) that leads the way in providing cultural activities and social and wellbeing services for male health.
The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
Read more in our article on The Ingkintja Male Health Service.
3. Tharawal Aboriginal Men’s Group
The Tharawal Aboriginal men’s group is just one example of many groups around Australia helping to improve men’s health by making the local health services more accessible.
Based in Airds, NSW, the Tharawal Aboriginal men’s group is making it easier for men to get essential health checkups and help close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous men by combining mainstream healthcare with a range of services that address broader life challenges
But it’s the informal opportunities for community engagement that is one of the keys to breaking down barriers. For example, offering health checks to attendees of regular men’s groups helped identify some serious medical issues such as bowel cancer and high blood pressure.
Find out more by reading our article on the Tharawal Aboriginal men’s group
4. Camping On Country
Camping on Country is an award-winning program developed by Ernie Dingo and Indigenous elders and staff with a focus on wellbeing through cultural connection on country.
Up to 20 participants camp on country and participate in wellbeing and cultural activities during the week, with activities divided into five main categories: identify and belonging; cultural connection; health; wellbeing and Indigenous history.
Find out more in our article about the Camping On Country program.
5. Stayin' On Track
Stayin' On Track is an online resource for young Aboriginal dads. It was developed by a group of Aboriginal dads from around New South Wales who got together and shared their experiences about fatherhood.
They built the Stayin On Track website to pass on some useful info to other young dads by sharing stories around themes such as pride in being a father, tough times, culture, the emotions on finding out, feeling down, and role models.
Stayin’On Track was developed in collaboration with the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle.
Find out more in our article about Stayin' On Track.
6. Valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young Men
The ‘Valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young Men’ video follows a group of Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi men and women “who were invited to show others how culture and law helps keep young men healthy, strong and good leaders.”
It was a Lowitja Institute project led by Dr Mick Adams, culminating in a powerful video showing the role of culture, law and community in turning young men into leaders.
"Uncle Mick" is a long-serving champion of men's health who is well-known for his work to ensure that male health issues are promoted and placed on the national and international agenda through advocacy, research, publication and health management.
One of his many projects is the excellent Health Info Net online resource.
Find out more in our article about the Valuing Young Men video.
7. ALIVE & Kicking Goals!
ALIVE & Kicking Goals! (AKG) is a multi award-winning youth suicide prevention project that promotes strong and healthy living. AKG is based in the Kimberley, Western Australia. It aims to reduce the high suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in and around Broome through peer education workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and counselling. The project is initiated, managed, and led by Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
Find out more about AKG at the Men's Outreach Service website where you can also check some great information and Men's Health and Wellbeing and the Change 'Em Ways healing and behaviour change program.
8. Deadly Choices
Deadly Choices aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families – to stop smoking, to eat good food and exercise daily. Deadly Choices also encourages our people to access their local Community Controlled Health Service and complete an annual ‘Health Check’.
A focus on building partnerships with sport stars and sporting teams has helped Deadly Choices to engage effectively with men. The prized Deadly Choices sport shirts which are offered free of charge to those who take part in their health programs have proven to be a popular and effective incentive.
Find out more at the Deadly Choices website.
9. Dardi Munwurro
Recent research by Deloitte Access Economics found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190 per cent. In particular, it found that among Dardi Munwurro clients the rate of incarceration decreased from 13 per cent pre-program to 4 per cent post-program, with every avoided case of incarceration creating a saving to government of more than $90,000 each year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dardi Munwurro led the charge to move services online and launched a 24-7 Brother to Brother helpline.
Find out more at the Dardi Munwurro website.
10. The Clontarf Foundation
Boys' education is one of the key predictors of good health in later life. The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.
The Clontarf Foundation commenced in 2000 with a single academy located at the Clontarf Aboriginal College in Waterford, WA. It now operates 138 academies across six states and supports more than 10,000 participants and employs over 520 dedicated staff members.
Find out more at the Clontarf Foundation website.
If you know of an individual or organisation working to improve the lives and health of Indigenous men and boys, we'd love to hear from you. Please send any information you have on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander male health programs that you think should be acknowledged and celebrated to: [email protected].