Ballarat Brutha’s Men’s Group
The Ballarat Brutha’s Men’s Group was founded in May 2013, to address an identified gap in men-specific programs offered in the Ballarat District. The aim of this group is to build stronger connections between Indigenous men by providing participation in cultural activities to improve self-esteem, health outcomes, family relationships and community participation. The purpose of the men’s group is to encourage members to work together to explore social issues affecting Indigenous men’s health, parenting and relationships, drug and alcohol use, problem gambling, employment opportunities and cultural understanding. The group provides an informal, confidential, interactive and culturally safe environment for Indigenous men to meet.
The men’s group is open to all Indigenous men, preferably from the age of 18 years, and non-Indigenous men with strong connections to the Ballarat Indigenous community. The recruitment of members is done via newsletter and word of mouth. Currently, the group has around 12 attendees including 10 indigenous men and 2 men with indigenous partners.
Meetings are held on a weekly basis and include invited guest speakers to discuss issues effecting men’s health and wellbeing. The key contributors are local community members and Elders who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with the group. Issues for discussion include:
- Social and emotional wellbeing
- Physical health and lifestyle
- Alcohol and substance use
- Parenting and relationships
- Men’s behavioural change (anger management/domestic violence)
- Problem gambling
- Cultural connectedness vocation and employment
- Financial management (including fines, debt and Centrelink)
Socialisation Programs currently in progress or planned include:
- Healthy cooking group
- Brutha’s day out camp
- Father/Son cultural camp
- SEDA activity program
- Links with Ballarat East Men’s Shed
A success story
Bruce* is a 56-year-old man with Chronic Schizophrenia who lives alone. He has minimal support or contact from his family since the death of his mother 10 years ago with his only social contact being the HACC worker who cleans his house fortnightly. He does not drive and survives on the disability support pension. Prior to the Men’s Group, he only left his home to go shopping once a fortnight, or to the local shop to buy cigarettes. His health was compromised due to chronic smoking, poor diet and lack of meaningful exercise.
Since joining the men’s group, Bruce has been more willing to address his physical, mental and social health concerns. He has been more socially connected to his community and has re-established relationships and friendships with many of his past acquaintances. He has also been more willing to address his physical health issues, having regular Aboriginal Health Checks and a GP Management Plan, resulting in referral to the Chronic Disease Nurse for his asthma, diabetes checks, immunisation and medication reviews. He has also been referred to a private psychiatrist for his mental health and will soon attend the Healthy Life Program, and plans being put in place to see the optometrist and dental clinic.
*not his real name.