NO.34 MEN’S GROUP
The No34 men’s group first met on the 24th April 2014 .The original expectations around outcomes for the group were mainly focused on general Aboriginal culture and history. As time went on it became obvious that the brotherhood and mate-ship that developed between the members was as important as the cultural knowledge being shared.
There was a real sense from staff that there was a need in the community for some men, identifying as Aboriginal, to meet up and share their lives. Stories of social isolation, depression and suicidal ideation sparked a real need for action.
The determinant for this group is simply a perception that some men in the local community are experiencing a degree of social exclusion. There is also a degree of addiction and depression in some men’s lives.
This group works perfectly in the health continuum as a preventative in some men and self management in others. A sense of belonging in some men can give them an unconscious reason to take better care of themselves, physically and mentally.
The programs goals and justification remain within the general improvement of men’s health and well being.This has proved to be the case.
The group meets fortnightly, varying between a meeting one fortnight and a day out in the bus on the other .We take it in turns.
Meetings are held at No 34 starting at 10am and finishing around 12’ish.
The bus outings are an early start and have become a full day event. We usually find somewhere along the NW coast but also visit Launceston and the Tamar occasionally. As of April 2017, we had visited over 20 locations.
Recently we visited Bruny Island for an extended 4 night stay at Murrayfield station. This was our first extended stay away from home and turned out to be a great cultural trip.
The Facilitator was away from work for an extended time and the group came to slow decline. There were ongoing requests for more groups as to when the group would restart. The message was ‘we need this’ identifying that the group is highly valued to most, if not all members.
The current progress of the group is that it is increasing in many ways. The Facilitator keeps a record of attendants to meetings/outings and it has definitely increased. Most meetings would have 6-7 members and last week we had 13.
What is really important is not necessarily numbers, its the individual benefits of the group that is important. The groups are fun and promote mate-ship and a quote from the facilitator is that any group of blokes that can “put crap on each other” in a good open respectful manner, and stay mates, is progress.
One obvious benefit that has come out is the breakdown of the effects of social isolation with the members .The members will be quite open about how the groups activities have ‘made a positive difference’ to members .
We invite various health professionals to meetings to speak on various subjects as well . Also being an Aboriginal organisation, we can keep members updated to latest developments in that area.
Simple things, such as the knowledge of members that all conversations at meetings is strictly confidential, treated with respect, empathy and compassion. This has led to what I call the “heart circle” Men sharing there private lives and innermost feelings within that circle. The benefits of this is self evident.
In conclusion the No 34 Men’s Group has evolved into an extremely beneficial program that has endless potential for the betterment of men’s well-being in this area.