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Recognising Mates Day on May 8 in Australia

May 8 has emerged in Australia as a day to check in with a mate. This day might include chatting, catching up for a meal or participating in a favourite activity.  

Many grassroots organisations in Australia have embraced mateship as a way of fostering connection, drawing on its positive attributes. Mateship can be traced back to the early days of European settlement when people relied on each other to survive.

The word’s origins trace back to the Middle Low German ge-mate, meaning the act of eating at the same table. The Men’s Table brings blokes together each month to share a meal, talk about matters that are important to them, and share feelings and thoughts they might otherwise hide under the table.

The Tough Guy Book Club has ‘chapters’ across Australia where men catch up in a pub setting to discuss a nominated book and anything else at the top of their minds that doesn’t highlight how many goals they have kicked at work or on the footy field. TGBC members are also challenged to donate blood or writing their own novels and short stories.

A growing number of men across Australia are making connections through walking groups, which are typically free and end in a mid-morning coffee. The Man Walk, established by Mark Burns in 2018, now has groups running nationwide from Darwin to Wagga Wagga and everywhere in between.

“Visiting regional towns and hearing stories from real men about the impact that The Man Walk is having on their lives has spurred me on even more to achieve our purpose,” Mark said in March after visiting walks in Temora, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Dalton and Goulburn.

The Men’s Walk & Talk Hervey Bay meet outside the local surf lifesaving club at 5.15pm and Thursday at 6am.

The Men's Walk & Talk Hervey Bay meet twice a week, led by organiser Shane Bradbury. 

“Today, I was inspired to see so many of us open up, sharing stories and offering support,” posted organiser Shane Bradbury to the group’s Facebook page in April. “It got me thinking about the courage it takes to reach out and seek help. It's like taking the first step on a new trail. A bit uncertain at first, but every step forward is a step toward a healthier mind and heart.”

The group recently celebrated its 300th walk, which has helped more than 400 men improve their fitness and grow social bonds in two years. “Beyond the physical strides, these walks are safe spaces for sharing life’s triumphs and trials, underscoring the reality that no one has to face their challenges in isolation,” he told the Hervey Bay Advertiser.

Barbecues and mateship go hand in hand, providing the impetus for Mr Perfect BBQs to spring up around Australia, even when the COVID-19 epidemic forced burgers to sizzle over zoom.

Mr Perfect participants in Ulverstone, Tasmania, organised by Greg Smith.

BBQs are inclusive and free, and too many to list. You can find a BBQ near you or start your own here.

In addition to catching up with a mate or mates on May 8, the Australian Men’s Health Forum has developed a guide to help those unsure how to help a mate through difficult times.

The How to Help a Mate Doing it Tough guide was created with support from men's health workers with extensive knowledge and experience of having conversations with men. It features our simple ABC guide to helping a mate:

  1. Ask + Listen: Listen like a pro and help him get it off his chest.
  2. Build a Plan: When he's ready, help him think about the actions he can take.
  3. Connect to Help: Check in soon to see how he's travelling and find out if he's getting help.

DOWNLOAD your free copy here





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