Men and women from across the Shepparton region yesterday took part in a workshop to learn how to start unlikeable and uncommon conversations.
The Healthy Masculinities forum, hosted by Women’s Health Goulburn North East, aimed to promote healthier, more diverse notions of masculinity.
Agency gender equity trainer Rachael Mackay said the event was so successful last year they wanted to carry on the momentum to move away from harmful male stereotypes.
‘‘We need to get rid of this stigma for our sons, our dads, for our uncles and for women and girls’’ Ms Mackay said.
‘‘It’s about us all working together to change the cultures,’’ she said.
Journalist and author Phil Barker, Tomorrow Man facilitator Tom Bell and Michael Flood hosted the session and explored the ways how people in rural communities could break typical stereotypes.
Men’s mental health, new masculinity and practical skills to provoke hard conversations were a few of the topics covered in the session.
Ms Mackay said the workshop was vital for Shepparton as suicide rates were much higher in rural areas.
‘‘Some of the barriers are around the community attitude that if you reach out for help its a weakness’’ she said.
‘‘We need to create safe and healthy cultures and that’s what today’s about’’.
Mr Bell travels across Australia presenting workshops for the Tomorrow Man company, which aims to redefine what it means to be a man.
Mr Bell said people needed to learn how to change their way of thinking and the only way to change was to practice talking, in a fostered environment.
‘‘Blokes could get a PhD in banter, but can’t get a PhD on how to have some pretty honest conversations,’’ he said.
‘‘Tomorrow Man run around 500 workshops a year around the country and work with 20000 men and they all want to speak, but unfortunately we don’t have enough opportunities for blokes to speak’’ he said.