This chapter considers various goings on that were a part of the Australia-wide landscape as the current Mens Wellbeing was going through its developmental phases.
Archetypes in the Blue Mountains
Inspired by two books, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover (Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette) and Iron John (Robert Bly), Yaro Starak and Rein Van De Ruit assembled a group of 55 men at a Blue Mountains campsite in February 1993. Their three-day weekend became an exploration of the four main masculine archetypes of King, Warrior, Magician and Lover.
Yaro wrote enthusiastically of the way the men, of varying ages, participated in and embraced the process. On successful completion of the workshop the men were excited and wanted more.
Yaro Starak later played a role as a trainer for the Queensland based Men’s Help Line.
Australian and New Zealand Men’s Leadership Gathering
In 1992 the Australian and New Zealand Men’s Leadership Gathering (ANZMLG) was launched in Sydney. Reportedly initiated by Robert Weir, a Vietnam Veteran, its premise was to bring together men involved in leadership capacities in different ideological and political men’s groups including the Pro-feminist, the Fathers’ Rights and the Mythopoetic groups. With passing years it seemed to be dominated by the Mythopoetic aspect.
In spruiking the 1996 event Rex Finch, in his Men’s News, wrote:
An opportunity to enjoy the society of other like-minded souls, and to meet men who are out there doing their good work for others or involved in the Men’s Movement in some form. It is also a valuable place to learn, network and come away inspired at what can be achieved.
The gatherings were held mainly on Australia’s eastern seaboard and various New Zealand locations. The 10th gathering was hosted in Perth and the 13th ANZMLG was hosted by Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association (Qld) in October 2005 at Ewen Maddock Dam. This turned out to be the last ANZMLG.
Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association
In 1992 Wes Carter, along with Jonathan Kester and Rod Mitchell, set up the Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association (WA) Inc to raise the profile of men’s health and to obtain some funding to this end. Eventually after much effort to lobby the Government, an office space was allocated and a paid position made expressly for MHWA to operate. This carried on for many years until it was disbanded and an ad hoc structure emerged and continues to this day managed by a couple of dedicated men with time and interest to spare.
The new association was to develop services that will enhance men’s lives, reduce illness, accidents and premature death in men, provide educational and support services as well as looking at men’s relationships as fathers, husbands, grandfathers, brothers and sons. Wes Carter stated:
We want men to come along and provide their personal support to the positive changes that we can make in society. It’s time men took more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and the association has been set up to do just that.
In 1995 he took the idea to the 4th ANZMLG where it was picked up by men from other States with a view of prospectively forming a National body. Various issues got in the way with the outcome of individual State MH&WB organisations were set up in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. It was Ross Thompson who took up the cudgel to create the Queensland body – Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association (Qld).
This service developed out of the grass roots men’s movement in the Northern Rivers area. It was proposed as a strategy to address the perceived gaps in specific men’s services and unmet needs.
Gary Schliemann (attendee at SMF, BMF & SCMF) and Avigdor Zask wrote in Certified Male magazine:
The idea for our self-help, volunteer-based phone counselling service for men was first raised in a diverse public meeting held in Lismore in May 1993. Establishing a phone counselling service was seen as a practical, accessible, low-cost means of addressing (rural) men’s isolation and men’s poor utilisation of health and welfare services. But the project was never just a disembodied idea. It was about our own lives.
The line started operating in August 1994 – not without some local homophobic opposition. We feel the positive effect of men decreasing their isolation by joining our ranks and gaining interpersonal skills as well as the sense of belonging to a supportive men’s community should not go unnoticed.
The local press has responded very positively, depicting the broad range of backgrounds and lifestyles our graduates represent.
The service operated from 7pm to 11pm every night.
Standing Up Alive in northern NSW
In 1993 the first SUA gathering came out of a strong men’s movement throughout the Northern Rivers region of NSW. John Allan, Rob Fleetwood and others, along with Rein van der Ruit who brought aboriginal elder, David Mowaljarlai, from the west Kimberley of Western Australia to the east coast. The gatherings provided an opportunity for the sharing of Mowaljarlai’s ancient knowledge of the Wandjina people of the Kimberley.
John Allan conducted SUA gatherings for 10 years.
After attending Standing Up Alive 95, Rod Smith organised John Allan to offer the SUA wisdom at three men’s gatherings on the Sunshine Coast at Mudjimba Apex Park from 1996-1998. The weekends, named The Masculine Road (once) and Maps For Men (twice), provided guidance for Sunshine Coast men on their journeys.
The Sydney Men’s Phone Line
This telephone service was set up in 1996 as an apolitical Sydney based 24-hour community information and support service for men. It was staffed by male volunteers and funded by donations and sponsorships.
Publications of interest in 1990s
Some magazines were published in the 1990s to play a significant role in exploring men’s issues of the time.
Certified Male was a journal of men’s issues, published from 1995 to 1999 in Australia as a 40 page magazine. Under Peter Vogel’s editorship topics covered include men’s stories, men’s rights, masculism, men and feminism, the men’s movement, men’s groups, fathers and fathering, parenting, boy’s education, men’s health, domestic violence, gender, relationships, family law, divorce, child support and custody, sexuality, discrimination, sex roles, gender politics and many other issues examined from a male perspective.
Originally published in the Blue Mountains of NSW its archive can be found at: http://certifiedmale.com.au/
XY: Men, Sex, Politics began life as a printed magazine, published in Canberra (Australia) four times a year from 1990 to 1998. Over 26 editions 397 feature articles were published with the editorial content coordinated by Michael Flood.
Founder and coordinating editor, Michael Flood, states:
XY affirms a healthy, life-loving, non-oppressive masculinity, and supports the men’s networks for change in Australia. XY is a space for the exploration of issues of social change. XY is male-positive, pro-feminist and gay-affirmative. XY is a non-profit magazine produced by volunteers.
It continues as http://xyonline.net/ from Adelaide.
Men’s News commenced in June 1996 as a monthly bulletin connecting men throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Men’s News began as an initiative of supported by the 4th Australian and New Zealand Men’s Gathering in 1995. In these pages we report on developments and initiatives in areas such as men’s health, education, counselling, support, leadership, community involvement, suicide prevention, youth work, personal development, and issues of gender, justice and the media. (Rex Finch, publisher, 1996).
Its intention was to be a marketplace of ideas and resources, featuring classified advertisements and opportunities to take part in new initiatives in areas of importance to men and the wider community.
Its duration of publication is not known.