Men’s Health Connected examines working with young males

The Men’s Health Connected online summit continues on Thursday June 25 with a focus on what is being done to improve the lives and health of young men today.

The benefits of working with young males has positive social effects that last decades. 

This event brings together some of the leading projects working with young men across Australia to share their knowledge and experience.

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The first session asks why it is important to target young men with a gendered approach, led by three excellent contributors.

Martin Fisk is the CEO of Menslink, the Canberra-based organisation which has developed a range of programs to support young men.

Independent evaluation of its programs has confirmed that Menslink’s unique combination of counselling, mentoring and outreach work, which places a strong focus on practical life skills, is having a long-lasting, positive impact on men’s health and wellbeing.

READ: Menslink's research shows mentoring has lasting impact (AMHF)

He is joined in this session by David Burt, CEO and founder of SALT, Sport and Life Training, and Ray Swann, Deputy Head of Brighton Grammar School, a bayside school in Melbourne which takes a boy-friendly approach to teaching and learning.

The 10.45am-12pm session titled, ‘Talking About tough issues – what’s working?’ – features Paul Zappa, Facilitator, The Men’s Project joined by Jane Higgins, CEO, the Odyssey Program.

The Men’s Project is run by Jesuit Social Services, who have been working with men and boys for over 40 years. They acknowledge that boys and men are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour, have extremely high rates of suicide and are usually the perpetrators of violence.

“We need to do much more. We need to address the root causes. That’s what The Men’s Project is doing,” they explain.

The Odyssey Program run workshops in schools around Australia to assist teenage boys on their journey to manhood.

Founder Jane Higgins, a finalist in the 2020 Women Working in Men’s Health Awards, is a counsellor and mother of two boys.

“My goal is to offer engaging, informative and empowering workshops that assist boys to challenge the social construction of masculinity and transform it into a new, positive definition of who they really are and who they want to be. I believe it is paramount that we offer boys an alternative and assist them in being responsible and healthy world citizens,” she says.

They are joined by Delroy Bergsma, Clinical Manager Outreach, Youth Focus. Delroy is a registered psychologist with a demonstrated history of contributing positively to young peoples' mental health. A passionate and capable communicator with a history of developing and delivering therapeutic interventions and culturally safe community outreach programs. Experience includes personnel management, program development and management, stress management, mental health, suicide prevention and wellness. Strong community and social services professional with a Bachelor of Psychology from Curtin University. 

The afternoon session from 12pm-1pm AEST looks at building partnership and collaboration with Adelaide-based television journalist and podcaster Callum MacPherson (Young Blood, Men’s Health Matters) and Amy Harvison, Head of Programs and Operations with the Top Blokes Foundation.

Top Blokes works with groups of boys and young men over 3 to 6 months to increase their resilience, empathy, and respect for self and others, and in doing so work to reduce the rates of suicides, mental health issues, antisocial and risk-taking behaviours.

The third speaker, Matt Defina is Head of Programs at The Man Cave. A registered psychologist, Matt grew up between adventures in the beaches, bush and suburbs of Victoria. He has been driven to seek out wholesome and challenging experiences from a young age. Through The Man Cave, Matt now wants to give young men experiences that will expand their view of what is possible in life, for themselves and in their relationships with others.

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