The original annual gathering, the Sunshine Coast Men’s Festival, grew into the three-day Manshine gathering which now attracts up to 160 men each May/June, from around Australia and even New Zealand.
Mens Wellbeing now hosts four differently-themed Open Ground Men’s Gatherings a year along the East Coast of Australia, all run by individual gathering committees working from a systemised manual.
The Open Ground Gathering schedule is:
Manshine Sunshine Coast, annually in May
Man Alive NSW South Coast, annually in September
Menergy Licola Victoria, annually in October
Manhood Gold Coast, annually in November
Along with the weekend gatherings, Mens Wellbeing’s major service over the years has been its Common Ground men’s groups.
These structured, facilitated groups run over a course of nine weeks and explore masculine topics including relating dynamics, intimacy, healing father issues, parenting, health, purpose in life, sexuality and other issues.
Rather than any notion of trying to “fix men”, these groups offer a safe space of acceptance for men to explore their own self-transformation and awareness.
A regular schedule of introductory nights and groups, co-ordinated by a program manager, is run from Northern NSW through the Gold Coast and Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast.
Facilitators for these groups are trained at two facilitator training intensives each year and facilitators subsequently undergo a graduated apprenticeship and ongoing assessment under the guidance of experienced senior facilitators.
As with the Open Ground events, the Common Ground groups have been refined into structured training manuals to give continuity and consistency in professional standards of delivery.
An estimated 750 men have passed through Common Ground groups in the 11 years they have been running, and many continue meeting on their own initiative years after the initial nine-week program. There are also now over 60 trained group facilitators.
Mens Wellbeing has a long-term lease on a spectacular camping property at Mt Byron, 90 minutes inland from Brisbane and close to Lake Somerset.
Aptly named The Rock, the isolated and rugged cattle grazing property features a stunning pole house with accommodation for 18, perched on a canyon overlooking a boulder-strewn river and exquisite swimming hole.
Close by is a large forest camping area with a shower block, bunkhouse, kitchen and dining hall under development.
The Rock provides a very pure and exhilarating space for men’s retreats and valuable youth mentoring camps. Its upkeep and maintenance is a regular focus of working bees and fund-raising efforts.
Since 2011, Mens Wellbeing has held an annual weekend Elders Gathering. These gatherings explore the meaning and consequence of ageing in men’s lives and eldership as a role in our community.
An initial circle of 12 men regarded as having qualities of eldership was elected, and the Mens Wellbeing Elders Circle continues to grow and meet frequently.
Read more about our Elders Circle
The organisation publishes its own membership magazine twice a year. Running between 16 and 20 pages, Mentor includes photo galleries from the Open Ground and other gatherings, articles on men’s issues, member contributions, a list of service resources for men and a display advertising section of events, workshops and services.
Individual members are active in their own men’s circles. Men’s circles run fundraiser barbecues, promote National Men’s Health Week, and provide gatherings for member’s families around Fathers’ Day, Christmas, Easter and Mothers’ Day.