Skip navigation

More support needed for grassroots groups that bring men together

There has been an explosion of innovative grassroots projects that foster social connection between men, AMHF CEO Glen Poole said today at the Men’s Health Connected final session on social connection and men’s health.

Largely run on the efforts of volunteers, these projects were helping to address the gap in programs that targeted different populations of men.

“Existing advocacy needs to place a greater focus on men and the social projects that promote mateship,” Poole said.

“There is an opportunity to go where the action already is and to provide tools on best practice to draw men in,” he said.

Government had recognised the benefit of a men’s health initiative that originated in Australia and connected thousands of men: Men’s Sheds. The Albanese Government last week committed two more years of funding to continue support for Men’s Sheds in line with the National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030.

While these “chunks of funding” were welcomed, Poole said there were many more groups and men’s health interventions that were not getting the funding they deserve, up to 600 across Australia. “There is a wealth of great knowledge in those groups that can be shared with practitioners,” he said. “They will be funded in 5, 10, 15 years. Why not do it now?”

These included The Man Walk and the Tough Guy Book Club, who each had 80 volunteer-led groups operating across Australia. “The founders are struggling to find funding to take projects to the next level.”

In Building social connection for men’s health: turning action into policy, Poole summarised key points from a dozen sessions held over the last month on Men’s Health Connected, with approximately 20 speakers outlining what was being done to address an alarming rise in social isolation and loneliness.

“Too many men lack opportunities to build and maintain social connection,” Poole stated.

While mateship was one of the top three Australian values prized by males, 1 in 4 men lacked good mates and opportunities for social connection had dwindled in the past 30 years.

This was linked to shorter life expectancy in males, poorer physical health, higher risk of suicide and increased likelihood of developing dementia.

“We lose 50 men a day in Australia from preventable causes,” he said.

 “Lack of social connection is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

Research showed that men were more reliant on partners for social connection, less socially connected within families, more likely to live alone under the age of 55, and less likely to have contact with people outside their home.

“There are quite clear distinctions in the way men and women are socially connected,” said Poole.

Certain groups of men were at different levels of risk. Those not being in work, living in remote areas, those experiencing conflict in relationships, or the death of a partner, health issues and disabilities, old age and major life transitions.

Initiatives like Neighbours Every Day and 1000 Play Streets were building connections in the community, and major campaigns like Ending Loneliness Together represented an opportunity to “Go where the action is and to provide tools for people working with men.”

“How do you actually engage the most isolated men, for whom joining a group would be a step too far?” he asked.

“The place to start, where the men’s sector has the most to offer, is in the selected, targeted approach.”

“The men’s sector is already doing this thing of building groups, driven by men of working age 35-65, an explosion of volunteer men’s groups that are building mateship.”

“Collectively we can build our capacity to deliver social connection projects to men and be in a better position to make the case to government.”

Further reading

Men's Health Initiatives Highlight the Importance of Social Bonds (AMHF)

Celebrating Mates Day: Building Social Connections and Support for Aussie Men (AMHF)


Men's Health Connected is a place for people interested in men's health to connect and discuss key topics affecting men and boys with practitioners and researchers in the field. 

In 2023, Men's Health Connected has events running across three series:

  • Series 1: Time to Act on Male Suicide (on-going)
  • Series 2: Social Connection and Men’s Health (concluded)
  • Series 3: Getting Moving for Men’s Health (starting May 29)

Recordings of most sessions will be available at a later date. 

Find out more and register for future events. 



Movember to fund Indigenous Men’s Health Initiatives
Movember is seeking expressions of interest for its new Indigenous Men’s Health: A Community Empowerment Initiative that will provide annual funding of up to AUD $700,000 per applicant for five years.
22 April 2024

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.


Stay in touch with AMHF by signing up to our Men’s Health newsletters.