Following an emotional inaugural International Men’s Day Forum in 2020, it seemed like a tough act to follow, but the second forum, held in Darwin in November proved that Territory men are far from the rough, tough rogues the stereotype has presented them as being, reports event organiser Rebecca Forrest.
“From the very first presentation from legendary footballer, Mark Motlop – the tone was set,” she says.
Motlop spoke of the importance of opening up in his keynote address. “It’s ok for men to cry,” he said. “We need to let people know how we’re feeling. If they don’t know, they can’t help.
“My father rarely told me he loved me. I make sure I tell my kids all the time. It makes us better. Tell your kids you love them.”
The forum – attended by more than 220 people - explored discussions on suicide prevention, men’s health, loss of children, family violence and celebrations of success.
Rebecca Forrest, who was recently acknowledged as the NT Local Hero Australian of the Year, said it was important for men to have a voice and to have their contributions to community celebrated.
“I know that it seems ironic to have a woman run an International Men’s Day forum but we need to set gender aside,” she said. “This is about people. I love the men in our community and see them do so much to support the people in their orbit and that is worth celebrating.
“I feel that men don’t have as many opportunities to open up and share how they are feeling and this is iust one opportunity for them to do that.
“The IMD Forum was so much more than just a one day event. It was an opportunity for men to provide feedback on the agenda they would like to set for the following 12 months and identify key priority areas to be worked on to improve outcomes for Territory men.”
Rebecca is planning to implement mini conferences and road trip across the Territory with key officials, and to identify ways to provide information and programs to support men in a ‘one stop shop’ location.
She would also like to develop men’s retreats and camps for senior leaders and other Territory men, and implement a series of podcasts or touch points for men to continue to share their stories and keep the conversations flowing.
The International Men’s Day Forum has become an important initiative on the annual Territory event calendar, joining its ‘sister’ event the No Woman Left Behind Conference, that is held in line with International Women’s Day each year. To find out more visit www.noonleftbehind.com.au