Find out more about the groups who were shortlisted for a Men's Health Award 2020 in the category of Significant Response to COVID-19.
The award is open to any individual, group or program that has responded effectively to the impact of COVID-19 on the lives and health of men and boys. This can include people on the frontline, working with men at risk of coronavirus, through to groups responding to the social and mental health impacts of the pandemic and people adapting to the challenge of social distancing by delivering initiatives online.
Voting is open until Sunday 14 June at 5pm AEST.
PARENTS BEYOND BREAKUP
Dads In Distress support groups began life on a verandah in Coffs Harbour. Now run by Parents Beyond Breakup (PBB), the charity's network of peer support groups for separated dads were closed overnight because of COVID-19. PBB rose to the challenge by going back to the verandah and launching the "Virtual Verandah" - a series of online support groups that have maintained contact with existing dads and reached new clients in the process.
Mr. Perfect is a grassroots, pre-crisis, mental health charity that facilitates meet-ups for men at public BBQs. Despite being a voluntary organisation, Mr. Perfect has built a network of BBQ hosts at 25 sites across six of Australia’s eight States and Territories since 2016. As the COVID-19 restrictions kicked in, Mr Perfect launched The Reconnection Hour, a weekly hour-long podcast with a great mix of guests including Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy); psychologist Dr Clive Williams and Dr Mark Cross, author of the book Anxiety. Mr. Perfect also launched a weekly Online BBQ inviting men from all over the country to "fire up your grills or just come chat, listen and feel connected".
Older Men: New Ideas (OM:NI) men's discussion groups for men age 50 and over have been running since 2004 with around 30 groups in Victoria alone. The groups enable men to build supportive friendships, sharing their stories in confidence, trust and acceptance. COVID-19 restrictions have been particularly hard on older men who are less likely than the rest of the population to adopt new technologies. The Greensborough OM:NI group is notable for shifting to zoom in March and launching weekly online meetings enabling a dozen older men - including two aged in their nineties - to tune in to discuss their thoughts and share their experiences.
Deadly Choices aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families – to stop smoking, to eat good food, exercise daily and complete an annual ‘Health Check’ at their local Community Controlled Health Service. Deadly Choices uses sporting culture to engage with its target communities and works closely with ambassadors like Patrick Johnson: Olympic sprinter and Preston Campbell: Rugby league legend. Its MomenTIM program reaches out to young male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Deadly Choices has around 100k followers on social media and has been broadcasting regular health talks and exercise classes to its audience throughout the lockdown.
THE FATHERING PROJECT
The Fathering Project recognises that fathers, and father-figures have a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of their children, families and wider communities. It launched in WA in 2013 and now has groups in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In April, The Fathering Project launched an online Fathering Channel aimed at supporting fathers across Australia through engaging, expert and research-led topical content around fathering in the COVID-19 scenario. The aim is to create a space for dads who are facing the pressure and stress of working from home, managing kids, dealing with workloads or facing job loss.
INATT - I'm Not Afraid To Talk- is a local initiative that began life in 2018 with the help of a $1,000 grant from The Whyalla Suicide Prevention Network. It was formed by a group of local footy players who decided to form a support group specifically for young men in Whyalla. Founding Member Jeremy (Jezz) Edwards said the group aimed to break the stereotype that males don’t need emotional support and get rid of the stigma that you’re ‘weak’ if you need help. In March 2020, Jezz launched INATT Chat online to keep the INATT community engaged through a series of regular interviews with significant local figures such as Eddie Hughes MP, the Mayor of Whyalla Clare McLaughlin and former Adelaide Crows star Andrew Crowell.
Paddy Murray runs the weekly Meander River Men's Group in Tasmania and is author of the Men's Group Leadership resource manual. Paddy defines a "men's group" (sometimes called a men's circle) a group of usually less than 12 that comes together to obtain and offer support with other men in their personal and emotional journey, coming "from the heart not the head". Due to social distancing and lock downs, online groups became the only way of meeting. Paddy took the Meander River Men's Group online and it now attracts men from the Northern Territory to Tasmania. By connecting with men's groups in the UK, USA, Europe and Africa, Paddy has quickly built an understanding of what works online and created a Tips and Tricks guide for running men's groups online.
EveryMan is a Canberra-based support service with over 25 years’ experience of working with men who have high and complex needs including family violence. During the COVID 19 crisis, EveryMan recognised that some homes may not be safe places under the social distancing and home isolation rules. Since April it has been trialling a new support service to help combat a predicted rise in Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Connect & Support aims to reduce the risk of people becoming violent during times of confinement, unemployment, financial difficulties, physical or mental illness, and heightened stress on family life and adheres to industry best practice as it evolves.
Dardi Munwurro delivers a range of family violence, healing and behaviour change programs and services, to break the cycle of inter-generational trauma in Aboriginal families and communities. It aims to equip Aboriginal men to become leaders, role models and mentors within their communities. During COVID-19, Dardi Munwurro has increased its online presence, notably on Facebook where it ran a Victorian Aboriginal Men's Gathering 2020 online, attracting more than 4,000 viewers. Dardi Munwurro also transformed its services to digital in a bid to address the need for immediate help during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, it launched a new 24/7 Aboriginal men’s crisis line.
MATES IN CONSTRUCTION NT
MATES in Construction is a multimodal suicide prevention and early intervention program that is a response to the high rates of suicide among construction, mining and energy workers. During COVID-19, MATES extended its ordinary office hours from 6 am to 8 pm, ensuring a field officer and a case manager is available during these hours. MATES continued to provide safe face to face interactions with at risk workers on site during COVID-19 and reached out to men with information campaigns. MATES is working with a number of industry suppliers to let every construction worker know that you don't have to deal with stuff on your own.
CHANGE 'EM WAYS
Change Em Ways (CEW) is an Indigenous Men’s Behaviour Change (MBC) Family Violence program being delivered by Men’s Outreach Service Aboriginal Corporation. CEW implemented a detailed action plan when the COVID pandemic struck. They developed policies and procedures to deal with the immediate impact of program suspension and restricted access to the CEW participants and their partners. Included in this plan, weekly contact was made by phone with those listed to “check-in” to see how men are coping, ask specifically about incidents of violence, update them on what other services are providing and provide information about next Workshop. They encouraged men to join the Change Em Ways FB messenger group and view the Change em Ways FB page. CEW places a strong focus on healing from intergenerational trauma and the importance of supporting men to reconnect with their cultural values and practices. It also recognises the impact of colonization on indigenous social and kinship structures, cultural practice, language and spirituality.