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Mates Day Showcase: projects building social connection in men

Monday May 8 is Mates Day and to mark the occasion a number of great projects that promote social connection in men will be showcasing their work online at this year's Men's Health Connected.

The Mateship Showcase is part of a series of events focused on Social Connection and Men's Health, hosted by the Australian Men's Health Forum.

The event is free to attend. Register for the Building Mateship Showcase. 

Session 1 (10am): More than mateship, helping men build deeper social connections

Two great men's projects share their experience of helping men to build deep and meaningful connections with their peers. 

David Pointing and Ben Hughes of The Men's Table will outline how they are helping men "go beyond banter" and show that "men DO talk, when they've got the right place to". Men’s Tables are safe places for men to share and be heard in a confidential and non-judgmental environment, creating a greater sense of belonging, camaraderie and connection.

Mentoring Men provides free, long-term, one-to-one life mentoring for men who are going through some challenges or changes in their life. CEO Simon Jarvis says every man needs a listening ear from time to time and that the early intervention provided by a mentor can prevent a problem escalating into crisis.

Session 2 (11.15am): How action builds social connection 

Wayne Kreuger of Inner Man Adventures, Lance Rogers of SOLiD MEN and Billy Beggs of Penrith Men's Walk and Talk, share how their projects help men connect through action and adventure. 

Penrith Walk and Talk is one of the most successful men's walks in Australia, attracting hundreds of men on its busiest weeks throughout the year. The simple act of getting together for a coffee and a walk every Thursday evening is helping local men build stronger connections. 

SOLiD MEN brings men together through exercise and healthy lifestyle, with a particular focus on Mindset, Exercise and Nutrition (M.E.N.). The group operates across four locations and aims to strengthen and equip Christian men with the goal of promoting physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health.

Inner Man Adventures gives men opportunities to "get out" and "look in" with events focused around 4WD-ing and camping, that give men the chance to share stories around a campfire and make lifelong connections. Wayne of Inner Man says: "we take the opportunity on every trip to make the connection between the adventures on the track to the adventures in our own lives".

Session 3 (12.30pm): How to help a mate doing it tough

Do you want to know how to help a mate who's doing it tough? Would you like to have a helpful conversation with a mate who's struggling, but don't know where to start?

The How to Help a Mate Doing It Tough guide has been created with support from men's health workers with extensive knowledge and experience of having conversations with men.

This webinar provides an introduction into putting this simple approach into action with a man in your life who may be doing it tough.

This short workshop on having meaningful conversations with men is facilitated by Glen Poole, CEO of the Australian Men's Health Forum.

Session 4 (2pm): Social Drinking and Male Friendship

This session brings together Shay Leighton of the Tough Guy Book Club and Daniel Chin of The Barstool Brothers. 

Shay is founder of the Tough Guy Book Club, a network of men’s book clubs with nearly 100 chapters meetings every month in local pubs. The club is about putting "real decent conversations back in the pub" and building mateship in the process. 

Shay's talk will explore the erosion of men's community lives through the lens of the differences between our grandfather's lives and our own. As Shay says - "Your Grandfather was involved".

Daniel Chin is the General Manager of The Barstool Brothers, the charitable arm of the His Boy Elroy beer and burger bar.  Barstool Brothers believes that hospitality venues are great places for connection and is working to make these venues safer and more inclusive to people struggling with their mental health. 

Barstool Brothers has around 1,500 members who take part in a range of free monthly events that are working to build social connection. 

Session 5 (3.30pm) Building social connection at a community level

Highlighting the Neighbours Every Day campaign run by Relationships Australia. 

Neighbours Every Day is a campaign created by Relationships Australia to help create belonging across Australia and build inclusive communities people want to live in, one relationship at a time.

Neighbours Every Day encourages individuals, community groups, business and governments to take everyday actions that create social connection and foster respectful relationships.

While the campaign is not specifically focused on men, it is built on an understanding that when people connect with their communities, they have a greater sense of belonging, which leads to improved mental well-being, a reduction in loneliness and greater strength and resilience.

With Nick Tebbey, National Executive Officer of Relationships Australia, showcasing the Neighbours Every Day campaign and Kieran Brophy of Play Australia, sharing the work of the 1000 Play Street movement.

Beyond Mates Day 

Further showcase events will be run throughout the week:

Wednesday 10 May 4pm: Mateship on the move

Featuring Mark Burns, CEO of The Man Walk and Paul Litwin, CEO of Mens Talk in WA.

Mens Talk in Western Australia runs a range of events that aim to make conversations about masculinity and wellness the norm.

Events include the popular, fortnightly, Move, Breathe, Connect sessions on Scarborough Beach. Mens Talk says these sessions bring together men of all ages to focus on the importance of movement and breathwork for wellbeing balance.

The sessions are followed by a dip in the ocean followed by a breakfast, giving men the opportunity for meaningful conversations that build social connection and mateship.

The Man Walk provides an opportunity for men to get together to walk, talk and support each other in a regular and healthy way. The Man Walk provides an environment that is positive, supportive and inclusive, where there is no pressure and no barriers to entry.

Now available in dozens of locations, The Man Walk is a viral sensation that is bringing opportunities for men to walk, talk and support in communities across Australia.

Thursday 11 May 9am: Mateship in older men

Featuring Men’s Sheds WA, Shed Happens, The Men’s Circle and TOMNET (The Older Men’s Network).

This session showcases four projects that are doing great work building social connection in older men.

Australia's Men's Sheds are a homegrown initiative that has spread around the world. Men of all ages attend Sheds to socialise and engage in practical activities, learn new skills, create and maintain friendships, and give back to their community. Rebecca Talbot outlines the world of Men's Sheds WA and makes the case that "every man belongs in a shed". Shed Happens is a different concept to men's sheds. It was established to help Aussie men connect with each other at a heart level.

Shed Happens is a different concept to men's sheds. It was established to help Aussie men connect with each other at a heart level. Shed Happens says it wants men to be able to talk, ask questions and listen to other blokes on important matters of the heart, not just talk about the weather or footy. Frank Cowell, from Shed Happens in Mackay, will provide an insight into their work. 

TOMNET (The Older Men's Network) supports men over 50 in the Toowoomba region. TOMNET is a network of "mates you can count on", giving many in later life the opportunity to connect with other men who are genuine, who share the good times, and support each other through life’s challenges. Anthony Hegarty of TOMNET will share their work to build social connection and mateship in men over 50.

Kevin James of the Circle of Men, will talk about the challenges of social isolation among men in aged care facilities. The Circle of Men's team of volunteers use a model of companionship & social support to build mateship with men in aged care settings. The team has recently secured an agreement with Australia's largest aged care provider, Bolton Clarke, to roll-out the program across multiple sites in Queensland.

Diving deep into the evidence

Wednesday 10 May (9.30am): The Science of Building Social Connection 

Presentations from Dr Adam Karg of Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ Ten to Men Study, share their research on social connection. 

Dr Adam Karg is an Associate Professor who leads the Sport Innovation Research Group in the Swinburne School of Business, Law and Entrepreneurship. He leads a research program that works to promote and measure social connection and the impact on people, community and innovation.

The Ten to Men Study at the Australian Institute of Family Studies will present their longitudinal analysis of social connectedness among Australian males and the links to physical and mental health.

Thursday 11 May: Lived Experience of building social connection in priority populations 

10.30am: Round table on the lived experience of  Culturally and Linguistically Diverse men. 

12 noon: Round table on the lived experience of military men and male veterans.

Putting action into policy

The Men’s Health Connected series on Building Social Connection for Men’s Health wraps up on Tuesday 16 May at 2pm AEST with a session summarising what we’ve learnt where we will: 

  • Review the evidence base
  • Make the case for action
  • Reflect on some of the great initiatives that are already taking action
  • Discuss want Government can do at a policy level




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