Men’s Health Week 2018 breakfast at Victoria’s Government House

We are in the midst of national Men’s Health Week, which aims to create awareness on the health of men and boys. One might ask, why the emphasis on the health of boys and men? They’re alright, aren’t they? In many cases, the answer is no.

Right from the start, boys suffer more illness, more accidents and die earlier than their female counterparts. Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women (that’s five men a day, on average).  Accidents, cancer and heart disease all account for the majority of male deaths. A boy born in Australia in 2010 has a life expectancy of 78.0 years while a baby girl born at the same time could expect to live to 82.3 years old.

This year’s theme is: ‘Men and Families: making healthy connections’ explores the different ways families support the health and well-being of men and boys and, in turn, the positive, healthy contributions they can make to their families.

To mark Men’s Health Week in Melbourne, the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AC, together with husband Mr Anthony Howard QC, hosted a Men’s Health breakfast in the ballroom of Government House on Friday 8 June. About 220 stakeholders attended the breakfast, representing every facet of those working in the complex men’s health space.

In his opening speech, Mr Howard stated: The Governor and I trust today’s event will raise awareness and provide an opportunity for you to network and contribute to the important national discussion about men’s health. 

The challenges presented by the issues of men’s health are confronting, including that:
* Boys and men suffer more illness and more accidents than females – indeed 80% of spinal cord injuries occur in young men.
* Globally, alcohol kills almost 6 times more men than women.
* On 2017 figures, more Australian men will die of prostate cancer than women will die from breast cancer.
* Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women – that is, 6 per day in Australia.  Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 44 and indigenous Australians are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous Australians.

Early intervention is paramount, but, sadly, men often don’t feel comfortable expressing their true feelings and then asking for help. When women say ‘let’s have a coffee’, they usually mean ‘let’s talk’.  However, when men say ‘let’s have a beer’, they usually mean ‘let’s have a beer’! 

Cultural change is essential, and that change must encourage men and women to speak out; we must eradicate the stigma and embarrassment surrounding mental health and men’s problems and promote a greater social and emotional connectivity for boys and men.

A panel of experts followed the opening speeches, provoking thought and discussion on the issues. They included Professor Anthony Costello AM, the internationally respected Director of Urology at RMH and Executive Director of the Australian Prostate Centre; Jerril Rechter, CEO of VicHealth and chair of the International Network of Health Promotion Foundations; and Matt Finnis, CEO of the St Kilda Football Club. Russel Howcroft, Chief Creative Officer and partner at PWC, and presenter on the ABC’s Gruen, was moderator.

For more information about Men’s Health week, click here.

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