In June 2019 the WA Men’s Health and Wellbeing Policy was launched after successful lobbying by the men’s health sector in WA.
WA became the second state in Australia after NSW with an active men’s health policy.
The WA policy was intended to drive improved health outcomes for all men and boys in the state and to provide direction for the WA health system and its partners to provide effective services for males.
“The Policy outlines clear goals and areas requiring action where men and boys are at higher risk. The Policy covers strategies to empower men to be proactive in managing their own health and wellbeing, and help to ensure equitable access to important health services which will meet men’s needs,” states WA’s Department of Health.
Nearly two years on, a 12-month online health check-up has been conducted to understand the level of awareness of the Policy, what sort of men’s health and wellbeing activities have been carried out and the sort of issues or opportunities that have arisen regarding the Policy.
Out of a total of 37 responses submitted, 62% said they were aware of the Policy (although 44% had attended the launch to put the numbers in perspective).
In terms of activities, and against the backdrop of COVID-19, there was considerable movement. These included:
- activities during Men’s Health Week 2020
- a wide variety of community events (via Regional Men’s Health Initiative)
- the development of a series of podcasts (Regional Men’s Health Initiative) to encourage and empower men and the community to take responsibility for improving lives
- distribution of the Policy to community and health providers
- online events carried out by Men’s Sheds of WA
- an online directory of services available to men and boys in WA
- Parents Beyond Breakup and Dads in Distress provided assistance for separated dads including a support helpline, online chat and forum, online support meetings and links to services
- the delivery of a variety of other general programs that support men’s health, and social and emotional wellbeing
- the development of various educational materials related to men’s health and wellbeing.
Feedback from the WA Men's Health and Wellbeing Policy Check-Up
Barriers to accessing, using or implementing the Policy included the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of awareness of the Policy, resourcing limitations and the need for implementation plans.
Mostly, respondents said the Policy could have more promotion by way of organising local forums, arranging information sessions, promoting the Policy widely to health professions and via public awareness campaigns to health and wellbeing circles. There was also the suggestion that key elements of the Policy should be mandated with Health Service Providers.
Overall, respondents were supportive of the initiation and development of the Policy.