"Doing Good Things for Men": Ma’Ddaimba-Balas Indigenous Men’s Group Evaluation Report: 2004–2005

McCalman, Janya, Tsey, Komla, Wenitong, Mark, Ahkee, Darryl, Jia, Anthony, Ambrum, David, and Wilson, Andrew (2006) "Doing Good Things for Men": Ma’Ddaimba-Balas Indigenous Men’s Group Evaluation Report: 2004–2005. Report. James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

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Current mortality and morbidity data suggest that the health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male population is the worst of any population in Australia (Wenitong 2002). Across Australia, Indigenous males’ life expectancy is 59 years (18 years less than the Australian average)(SCRGSP 2005), and the death rate of young and middle aged Indigenous males is of particular concern, with devastating consequences for their culture, families and the community. Despite poor health, many Indigenous males do not access care and treatment services when they need them. Barriers to access include distance to and availability of services, lack of transport, lack of private health insurance, lack of confidence and embarrassment, and a belief that women both dominate health services and principally provide services to women. The lack of employment of male health workers or their subordination to female non-Indigenous nurses or doctors is also a barrier (Adams 2001).

Improving access to health services could prolong the survival of those Indigenous men who suffer a range of serious diseases. But medical care alone is not sufficient to correct the alarming Indigenous health statistics at a population level. Social and economic factors such as education, employment, drug dependency and stress are more important for health gains in the population as a whole (World Health Organisation 1998). Hence any systematic and community-driven approach to addressing health will necessarily need to involve broad strategies that address not only the improvement of access to health services, but also the social determinants of health at individual, organisational and community levels.

This report describes the activities of Ma’Ddaimba-Balas (which translates as brother, brother) Indigenous Men’s Group in Innisfail, a small rural town in North Queensland. The Group has been part of a 3-way empowerment research partnership with a team of university researchers and another Indigenous Men’s Group since February 2004 to determine the medium - long term usefulness of men’s groups as a vehicle for health promotion strategies especially in rural Indigenous settings. The Ma’Ddaimba-Balas Men’s Group joined an earlier partnership of researchers from the University of Queensland and James Cook University (based in Cairns) with the Yaba Bimbie Men’s Group in the nearby Indigenous community of Yarrabah. The partners had been working since 2001 through a process of participatory action research (PAR) designed to support the men to take greater control and responsibility for the issues affecting their health and wellbeing. The Yarrabah study had provided initial evidence that men’s groups in Indigenous settings can lead to social and behavioural change and that PAR is potentially a useful tool in supporting social change (Tsey, Wenitong, et al 2004).

Based on the preliminary findings from the Yarrabah research, the research team successfully obtained a three-year grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) from 2004 to consolidate the participatory action research work in Yarrabah and extend the process to another Indigenous Men’s Group. This report describes the strategies, challenges and outcomes resulting from the first two years of the three-year research-funded work of the Ma’Ddaimba-Balas Men’s Group, between January 2004 and December 2005.

Item ID: 10652
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 0 86443 757 9
Keywords: Indigenous men's groups; health and wellbeing; Ma’Ddaimba-Balas men’s Group; participatory action research
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2010 06:32
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 70%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920505 Mens Health @ 30%
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