The first Australian International Men’s Day consisted of a single celebration in 1994. The rally took place in Sydney and commenced with a gathering at Circular Quay followed by a march through the city streets to Observatory Hill where participants were addressed by a number of speakers. These included Paul Whyte from the Sydney Men’s Network, followed by Alan Tegg representing The Men’s Development Centre in Balmain. Jenny Dall, editor of the Scarlet Letter concluded the proceedings. The event was the co-ordinated by Graham North who had heard about a similar event in Kansas City the previous year. While the numbers were small by rally standards (about 50 attended), it was a start.
After a lull new celebrations were established by Phil Gouldson of ACT’s Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association who launched an event after receiving an invitationAustralian Federal Police on men’s issues to mark the event. The day included a special press release by MHWA, an article in the Canberra Times, radio interview, and interstate coverage which resulted in many organizations around Australia contacting the association for more details; many undertook their own celebrations and the response was both positive and enthusiastic. Mr. Gouldson asked those attending the day to wear a red rose to mark the occasion, which symbolised strength of character and courage in meeting the challenges men face in building better, safer communities and in reaching their full potential. Since 2003 IMD has been celebrated in every consecutive year by various organizations.
After the 2003 event interest in International Men’s Day increased in Australia and numerous non-governmental bodies and churches held their own celebrations. In 2004 Phil Gouldson and MHWA organized a larger event again with press conference, radio interviews, and newspaper articles. The event was held at Glebe Park, Civic Canberra where Minister for Health Simon Corbell MLA was special guest and speaker. The theme highlighted this year was men’s health and Mr. Corbell noted that it was a very important day as it offered an opportunity to encourage men to consider their own needs and that men’s health outcomes were not as good or well attended as women’s. The 2004 event included a two day conference ‘MPowered 04’ hosted by the Christian City Church and Australian Men’s Network which was held in Watson and aimed at encouraging men to become the fathers and leaders society expected. Mr. Gouldson said that “Our families, the general public, health-care workers, educators and policy makers all need to understand and consider masculinity and come together to create a future where boys can grow into men who take an active role in creating a better and safer world for all, as teachers, carers, lovers, leaders, partners, supporters, healers, and mentors.”
In consultation with organizers from other nations, Australian IMD coordinator Phil Gouldson has outlined the following broad objectives of International Men’s Day:
* Celebrate manhood and the wonderful positive and valuable contributions our men, young men, and boys make to our communities and to our societies
* Promote and Support gender equality, encouraging men to address responsibly and positively the challenges facing them in society
* Demonstrate strength of character and courage in meeting the challenges that men face in society and in contributing to building stronger and better communities, where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential.
IMD celebrations were held in 2005 by MHWA, and continued in 2006-08 with interested community groups and churches. In 2008 interest in men’s contribitions were highlighted with the rediscovery of the sunken vessel HMAS Sydney off the coast of Geralton in Western Australia, in which 645 men lost their lives during the Second World War. For this reason the 2008 IMD promoted the theme of sacrifice, and coordinator Warwick Marsh of Dads4Kids wrote, “The 19th of November is historically a day of great significance for every Australian. In 1941 it was the day HMAS Sydney was lost….. The theme for the International Men’s Day 2008 is ‘Honour and Sacrifice’ . This commemorates what our Aussie men, sons, fathers and grandfathers, both past and present, have sacrificed for their families, communities, and the nation.”
The event was celebrated in the historic Parkes Room at New South Wales Parliament House, where a minute’s silence was observed at 1PM in memory of the 645 men who lost their life on the 19th November 1941. Speakers at the event included Dr Elizabeth Celi, author and Men’s Health advocate, and men and fathers consultant Rob Koch who said “November 19 is a date to validate. Men don’t seem to need recognition, approval or appreciation but when it does come his way, even on just one day, he can stand a little taller all the other days. He may shrug off the attention at the time but there will be a noticeably new spring in his step. That’s got to be good for everyone.” In her keynote address Dr. Celi said, “International Men’s Day is one of many acknowledgements we need to make to men for their valuable contributions to our society and our families. Their masculine qualities are a strength that focuses and grounds women. Trust me, a world with only women would be no fun at allâ€¦ To all the blokes out there, Happy International Men’s Day. To all the women, text your men friends and wish them a Happy International Men’s Day.”
International Men’s Day – 2009
With the increased profile resulting from 2008 International Men’s Day celebrations, several Australian organizations committed to observing IMD in November 2009. Maitland City Council was the first to lead the way after Cr. Philip Penfold submitted a motion to have council fund an IMD event to the tune of $1500. The motion was overwhelmingly carried and the money went help organize an IMD breakfast celebration in Maitland City. The Maitland City Council men’s breakfast was held at Maitland City Bowls, Sports and Recreation Club on November 19. Invitations were sent to men’s interest groups across the city to take part in the program that included speakers from Maitland PCYC, the Salvation Army and Men’s Shed Australia.
Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore was master of ceremonies. Fittingly, the Morpeth Men’s Shed group – which became the city’s first when it began operating in March – was represented at the breakfast.
Also in N.S.W. Forbes Shire Council celebrated International Men’s Day at Forbes Golf Club, which included a free BBQ, Trivia Night, Cash prizes and several other activities. All proceeds went to Prostate Cancer Foundation & Beyond Blue. The event was sponsored by Forbes Shire Council and supported by Centacare.
SEVEN Ulladulla men have been recognised for their contribution to the local community. Ian Ashby, Noel Butler, Dean Naylor-Clarke, Wayne Hamilton, Neil Smith, Kevin Whitford and Bob Larson were presented with special achievement awards at a function last Thursday. The function was organised by the Ulladulla Community Resources Centre to mark International Men’s Day.
RECOGNITIONS: Ross Wade from the Ulladulla Community Resources Centre (third from RIGHT) pictured with award winners (from LEFT) Wayne Hamilton, Kevin Whitford, Dean Naylor-Clarke, Bob Larson, Ian Ashby and Neil Smith.
Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation held an event in Parliament House, Canberra this year.
Ipswich City Council observed the day with a local celebration with a free BBQ breakfast provided by National Seniors Ipswich. The event was held at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre, 56 South Street, Ipswich. Special guests included Ian Maurice- entertainer, singer, radio and television host, and Sue Price- director of the Men’s Rights Agency. Other organisations attending were Men’s Shed, Prostrate Cancer Assn, and entertainers the Minor Chords’.
Mark McCosker of the Queensland Public Sector Union ‘Men’s Committee’ organized a full day IMD conference on November 19 for all QPSU delegates and has chosen the theme ‘Proud To Be Male’ for this year’s celebration. His suggested theme ‘Proud To Be Male’ has been discussed with several international organizations who likewise have expressed interest in adopting the theme. Mr. McCosker states, “Both the DET (Dept Education and Training) and JAG (Justice & Attorney General) have indicated they will be recognising/celebrating IMD. This information has come by personal lobbying of the Director-General of both departments.”
Rockhampton community offered a free family social activity for IMD including a BBQ held 11.50 am – 1.50 pm at the Salvation Army premises 131-147 Park Street North Rockhampton (opposite Tropical Ford), Nov 19. All locals were welcome to come along. The event was organised by Men’s Shed Steering Committee which consits of representatives from Lions, Rotary, Centrelink, Lone Fathers, Centacare and Ozcare. The day was used to promote good male role models and to promote the use, location and activities of the developing Men’s Shed for the people of the Rockhampton Region.
Rudran and Kitsiri DeSilva held an informal IMD gathering in Corinda, Brisbane on thier large property. There was a fire, dancing, music with guests bringing along thier own instruments, talking and a little fire twirling. This was a men’s event for men of any age and for their sons down to 14 years old. Guests were asked to bring food to share for dinner.
The Hume Council and libraries in Victoria this year promoted IMD as a way to highlight men’s issues. There was a special event in The Age Library with information and talks on men’s subjects and the history of International Men’s Day with speaker Rob Koch.
KooWeeRup Regional Health Service Community Development Officer Rick Wakelin advised that on November 19 Men’s Shed in Koo Wee Rup Victoria Australia held a celebratory IMD lunch for all men in the community whether shed members or not. Several men attended with some bringing their partners to help celebrate being men. They advise that they hope to hold this now annually and make the long lunch a success and eventually have the 500 male members of the community in attendance.
In the State Parliament of Western Australia Minister Nick Goiran gave a speech introducing International Men’s Day and it’s objectives to the parliament, focussing on the promotion of gender equality and the importance of highlighting positive male role models. He said, “As we celebrate International Menâ€TMs Day today, let us not forget the issue of interdependence that I have spoken about before. If men are trained and supported to be real men and to uphold women as equals in the home and the workplace, and if men are trained and supported to be real fathers and to uphold their children with all the benefits I have just mentioned, the outcome will be better for women and children and for society as a whole.