Wednesday, 17 June 2009

National Men's Health Week

I had the pleasure in speaking at the Newcastle Men's Health and Wellbeing Forum tonight.

Other speakers were:
  • Mr John Roberts, Benevolent Society, Coordinator of Men's Community Development Network
  • Mr Greg Millan, Australian Men's Health Forum, and local men’s health consultant (Greg's slides are shown below)
  • Associate Professor Pauline Chiarelli, from the School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle
  • Mr Kim Hopkins, Men's Shed Co-ordinator, Central Coast

The key message from the Forum was that until we have a National Men's Health Policy in place, real improvement won't eventuate. The Federal Government is working on such a policy, see here.

There is a lot of action locally to improve men's health and wellbeing. Newcastle Council's current Community Plan specifically mentions Men's Health and Wellbeing (see below) and outlines some key strategies for Council.

When I enquired about Council's progress on these strategies, this is the response I received.

I refer to Councillor Osborne’s request and advise that the Community Plan 2006–2010 was adopted by Newcastle City Council on 13 December 2005. It provides a strategic overview of key trends and issues that the community (including Council) will need to address over the next five years.

One of the key target groups identified in the Community Plan were Men with a focus on the changing roles and expectations affecting the lives of men as individuals now and in future generations. Major issues impacting on men were recognised as health (both physical and emotional), parenting roles, access to services and, meaningful contribution and accomplishment outside of a work environment.

The Community Plan nominated a series of strategies aimed at supporting men in responding to these impacts and changes. The strategies aimed to impact most directly on men’s health included:

- Encouraging programs which address the emotional and physical health needs of men
- Encouraging and supporting initiatives to develop the Men’s Shed concept
- Exploring the feasibility of establishing an information delivery hub.

Over the past two years the following has been achieved in the community to support men’s health:

- Ongoing support has been provided for the Family Action Centre who have developed a Fathers Inclusive Practice Framework to address men’s needs.
- The Benevolent Society were successful in applying for Area Assistance Scheme 2006 funding for the ‘Men Accessing Resources and Services’ MARS Project. The aim of the project is to improve men’s awareness of and access to services.
- Dads in Distress were successful in applying for Community Development Support Expenditure (CDSE) Scheme 2006 funding to provide a Coordinator to establish more support groups for dads who are often suicidal. The program provides a safe place for men to vent and to develop strategies to maintain contact with their children.
- Prostate Cancer Foundation received CDSE Scheme 2006 funding for the ongoing development of local groups to support men recently diagnosed or concerned about prostate cancer and raise community awareness about the importance of regular medical check ups and latest developments in therapy and treatment.
- NCC continues to support the Aids Council of NSW (ACON) particularly in the areas of ageing and crime prevention. This includes an on-going partnership with police and ACON on the BEATS project which promotes safety for gay men and the wider community and Council support for the Aids Memorial Park in Carrington which is dedicated to people who died of Aids and their families.
- NCC has also provided $15,000 for an integrated case management model to support the Street Workers in the Islington area. This directly impacts on men’s health by promoting safe sex and improves the overall health and safety of the wider community.

These initiatives were identified in the annual Community Plan progress reports undertaken January 2006-July 2007 and July 2007-June 2008. The third progress report of the Plan and initiatives undertaken is scheduled to occur in the second half or this year.

Brent Knowles

No comments: