Page 5612 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2011

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Both of them have a bit of a theme, I guess. They are men-related campaigns. One, of course, is that it is now the time of year when moustaches have begun to sprout on the faces of thousands of men in Australia and around the world—some sprouting better than others—and this is all in the cause of the Movember campaign.

Since its humble beginnings in Melbourne—and I suspect those humble beginnings were over a couple of beers, because it seems like the great Australian thing where a couple of mates sit around and say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?”—Movember has grown to become a global movement, inspiring more than a million participants, of whom, as members have obviously noticed, I am one this year.

The aim of Movember is to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression, with program partners the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue, the national depression initiative. In 2010, $25 million was raised in Australia, with $72 million raised globally.

Movember mo bros, as participants are known, raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their mo-growing efforts, starting the month with a clean shaven face and devoting the next 30 days to developing the fine art of moustachery. Mo bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the issue of men’s health. I can say from personal experience that has been the case. It has certainly been a conversation starter or sometimes a laughter starter, but so be it. If that is what it takes to raise some awareness and start the important conversations then I think it is well worth it, even if the itchiness does get the better of you some days.

I certainly would encourage members to locate their nearest mo bro and offer to sponsor them because it is such a good cause. Of course, they may have already done so. Certainly, I got roped into it by my friends. A few of my mates were saying, “Let’s have a go at this.” When they asked I felt I could not refuse. Anyway, we will make it to 30 November and I look forward to the shaving process at the end.

Ms Gallagher: We all will.

MR RATTENBURY: Fair comment, Ms Gallagher. Another important campaign that culminates next week is the White Ribbon campaign, a national campaign run by men to prevent men’s violence against women. Members may recall that I spoke about this last year because, along with a number of my colleagues in the Assembly, I am an ambassador for the campaign. The White Ribbon Foundation asks men to take the White Ribbon oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women and to lead by example through challenging existing sexist behaviour, to talk with their mates about it and to help grow the campaign.

I recently read about a program in New South Wales for domestic violence offenders that is having great success in reducing recidivism. It seems the key strategy in this program is teaching men practical life skills to help them understand their emotions, control their behaviour and learn that they have choices in how they behave. These are the kinds of programs we need to help troubled men get through situations when they might otherwise have got out of control.

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