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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Rural Mens’ Health and Wellbeing

Name of Leader:

Rob Nielsen

Names of Participants:

Hamish Putt, Pat Page, Helen Clarke, Laurie Lumsden, Bob Armstrong, Dan McLuskey, Sue Sorensen, Megan McNicoll, John Barker, Val Sapin, Rob Nielsen

Main points of discussion

What are the issues? Qld Health has identified the main health areas for men in general as being: cancer (skin and lung), cardiovascular (heart attack and stroke), personal injury, and mental health (including suicide), and they are elaborated on at the QHealth website.

Discussion of “are the issues facing rural men different” and “why is this so?” ensued. Research has shown that the farther communities are from the capital city, the greater is the rate of illness. This is attributed to men taking longer to seek medical help, due to jobs having to be done now, and the “macho”/male cultural imperative of “grinning and bearing it”. This is compounded by ethnicity -the greater the percentage of indigenous people in the community, the greater is the rate of illness.

While fewer resources are allocated to mens’ health issues, this seems to be more a function of community attitudes about what is important than lack of resources. The question of where do these attitudes have their genesis was posed with how we raise and socialise our children identified as the main source.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • The conclusion that the issues are real and that action needs to be taken was unanimous. It was suggested that the topic of their health is a “delicate” one for rural men and that any approaches need to be well thought out and handled cautiously. It was also suggested that action needs to be taken by males themselves rather than (again) leaving it to women.
  • Practical steps we, as extension workers, can take personally were discussed, eg. knowing who to refer men in need to, not being afraid to raise the topic when appropriate, involving other professionals to raise the issues, eg. including them in radio discussions on agricultural topics (ABC Country Breakfast Session, etc.), and inviting specialists to run workshops in local communities, e.g. on raising boys/adolescents.
  • Having men identify what they want from their health care provider and how they prefer other services to be provided was also suggested.

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