“It’s close to my heart working with countrymen. We like to think of our program as an Aboriginal men’s movement and as we gather momentum this vision is coming to light.
Less than two years ago we were cruising around remote communities in my blue truck running voluntary camps with men getting their feedback, and the response we got was phenomenal.
We heal and and we sing and we dance.
We do this to be better men, to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Mr Dingo said while he’d won a few awards, this one felt special : See full story Part 1 below
” A key part of my approach was adopting a conversational, informal tone, or just “having a yarn.
If you go out there and just ask straight out questions, they sort of go back into their shell and don’t want to talk about what’s on their mind.
If you just talk to them you can find out what areas they need support in.”
Dr Mick Adams said the approach was all about trying to encourage men to speak up by letting them know others were going through the same issues. See Part 2 below
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Picture above : SMSF co-ordinator Graham Leadbeatter, Camping on Country ambassador and chairman of Bush TV Enterprises Ernie Dingo, and Strong Men Strong Families participants and support workers on their way to their camp in July 2019. Credit: Elise Van Aken/The Kimberley Echo
A television series featuring East Kimberley Indigenous men has won a national award for its contribution to men’s health.
Australian film and television personality Ernie Dingo’s television series Camping on Country was announced as the winner of the national Australian Men’s Health Forum Award for best men’s health program last week during men’s health week.
Last year a group of local Indigenous men from Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation’s Strong Men, Strong Families program participated in the national Camping on Country program.
Elders, support workers, the Bush TV film crew and Mr Dingo accompanied the men on a camp to workshop strategies to improve outcomes for themselves and their people.
The men also created video messages which were sent to the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, which Mr Dingo the Camping on Country ambassador and chairman of Bush TV Enterprises said he’d show the Federal Government where the funding was helping and identify the areas that need more support.
By the end of this year the crew will have travelled around Australia twice and completed some 15 camps with 300-plus men and 10 communities.
The camps involved hunting, cooking, yarning circles, health checks, cultural activities, counselling and walks to connect men with their country, culture and each other.
“We all know about the statistics in regards to Indigenous men’s health, we got some pretty numbers, better than some cricket scores.
We can close the gap about men’s health a lot better than a lot of the attempts that were made from Canberra.”
Ernie Dingo spoke at our NACCHO Ochre Day about their successful men’s health remote community program – Camping on Country, where culture is an integral part of health
Mick Adams has been encouraging men to have a yarn in order to create more tightly knit communities for more than 30 years.
The 73-year-old, who is currently based in Perth, has won a National Men’s Health Award for his work to improve men’s health.
A Senior Research Fellow at Edith Cowan University, Dr Adams received the Local Men’s Health Hero Award.
Mick’s journey started in 1976 when he was told about an opportunity with the South Australian Institute of Technology’s Aboriginal Task Force.
“I didn’t have a lot of education and my spelling wasn’t so crash hot, but I went to the interview, got the opportunity and after two years, I came out with an associate diploma,” he said.
“After that I started looking at ways to improve myself. Studying became an option.”
He went on to complete a degree in social work, which eventually led to him earning his PhD at Curtin University.
Focusing on men’s health
Mick, who is known as Uncle Mick to most, began focusing on men’s health after talking to some Indigenous women in Mortadella while working in mental health.
“I found out a lot of men were committing suicide in a number of different ways,” he said.
“I wanted to give men a more positive attitude in life – not only about respecting themselves, but respecting their families as well.”
He soon extended his focus from men’s health to men’s health and wellbeing.
His work focused on issues including suicide, domestic violence, sexual and reproductive health and giving young Indigenous men a sense of self worth.
Companionship, not leadership
He said a key part of his approach was adopting a conversational, informal tone, or just “having a yarn”.
He pointed out the Northern Territory intervention as an example of the wrong approach, saying it left a lot of men feeling degraded.
“We talk about leadership, but men need more companionship,” he said.
Another obstacle was the self-esteem of young Indigenous men – considered men according to their own culture, but still considered boys by wider society.
Signs of success and funding shortfalls
Mick said the No More anti domestic violence campaign was a sign strategies of collaboration were encouraging Indigenous men to speak out about systemic problems.
“Men feel more comfortable about addressing those issues. Men want to work with women and women want to work with men.”
Mick said his focus was not solely on Indigenous men and he often spoke with men outside the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
He said men’s health issues were still largely under-funded and the success of grass roots campaigns were a testament to the strength of communities.