Many readers would be aware that the level of Australian government support (both federal and state) provided to men’s groups/men’s issues is miniscule in relation to that provided to groups advocating for and/or providing services to women. I am currently in the process of trying to quantify this differential but it is developing into a mammoth undertaking.
I recently came across a readers comment about men’s health in a blog post about an unrelated matter. Reader ‘Michael’ stated:
“Hope you can maintain some momentum, as there is no funding for grass-roots groups that are concerned about men and boys. The Mens’ Health Information & Resource Centre at the University of Western Sydney has had its paltry funding withdrawn, so there is no longer any formally based Australian organisation concerned with issues of male experience and equity.”
I then googled searched seeking confirmation of this news, which I had previously heard nothing about. I couldn’t find anything nor could I see anything in the Centre’s own web site. Anyway I eventually did get a response from a former staff member of the Centre, who advised as follows:
“Thank you for your email. I and responding to your enquiry on behalf of MHIRC …
Our long-standing funding arrangements that have been renewed since 1999 from the NSW State Government were ceased in 2013. This represented our major source of funding for the operations of the Men’s Health and Information Resource Centre at UWS. The Centre also operates The Shed at Mt Druitt for which funding has been provided for one more year and this originates from the Federal Government’s Department of Health.
The funding sources are not transferable so one source cannot subsidise another. For MHIRC, this means that our key projects of Men’s Health Week and MENGAGE the NSW Male Health Clearinghouse are able to continue only in a very limited format. We are currently exploring funding for 2015’s Men’s Health Week through other sources such as donations.
MHIRC was recently visited by the Governor-General, at his own initiation, and this may open up discussions about future funding.
Essentially, what we would like to say to the community and people concerned about approaches to male health that are not just medical or disease-focused, is that we need your support. If you would like to contribute to keeping important community-driven events like Men’s Health Week going, donations can be made to the Men’s Health Research Fund at the University of Western Sydney.
On a personal note, I will continue to donate time and energy to keep Men’s Health Week and MENGAGE going as I did when it was my job as I now work in a different part of UWS. I believe strongly that we need community-driven support for social wellbeing programs for men in Australia beyond the ‘problem-driven’ answers that governments focus on.
Thank you for your interest in the future of a social approach for men’s health in Australia.”