The 8th National Men's Health Conference last week delivered what it promised - the largest and most strategic conference for the men's movement in Australia so far. Over 400 delegates from around the nation united together to grapple with issues facing men and families. A variety of electives and keynote addresses from internationally-acclaimed experts provoked some healthy discussion as the nation poises to adopt the long-awaited National Men's Health Policy.
The Conference was held at Newcastle University from Tuesday 6 to Friday 9 October 2009, and provided a range of opportunities for participants to share the successes and challenges in their current work, to mix and share experiences with others with a common interest in male health and wellbeing and to reflect on current achievements and discuss future ones with colleagues from Australia and abroad. The agenda was broad reaching which included an extensive social programme that created more vital networking time for all.
Rob Koch, Principal Consultant of BETTER MEN Australia played a small part as one of the panel members for the Friday session entitled 'Fathering and its influence on kids in early childhood.'
According to Rob "So much more could have been said on this important topic. One of the most strategic things we can do to get the message out to mainstream men is to work within the mainstream universal services when the window of opportunity is at its widest - the birth of the first child. In states where the infant health program (Maternal and Child Health in Victoria) is run by local councils, a dedicated men's worker employed in the same department could ensure Dads are not forgotten or excluded. This model has already been successfully pioneered in the City of Casey (which has the highest number of 0-4 yr olds in the country) where father-inclusive services abound and father-targetted programs are getting unprecedented numbers of dads involved. The result: fathers who are more committed, more capable and more confident which in turn produces children who will have more resilience, less mental health problems and anti-social behaviour, better social skills, self-esteem, relationships, academic achievement... the list goes on. One of my major ambitions is to help councils replicate this across the nation."
BETTER MEN Australia congratulates the panel chairman, Tony White and the conference organizers.