Masculinity and Moustaches: A Picture of the Men’s Health Movement

Rachelle Cole, Community Development Worker

A recent discussion at WCHM about the growing national interest in men’s health has focused our attention on a topic that at first might not seem particularly relevant. We are the Women’s Centre for Health Matters after all.

As our objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of women in the ACT and surrounding regions, we have not been particularly involved in the debates surrounding men’s health. Apart from Jenni, whose Honours thesis included a chapter on the male pill—which to our surprise has already been developed—our office has not spent much time exploring the recent developments in men’s health. Refocusing on men’s health is a good reminder that the word gender refers not only to women, but rather women and men and their socially constructed characteristics and roles.

Since men’s and women’s health are interrelated, we decided that an update for our members would be timely. After reacquainting ourselves with the men’s health movement, we have learnt that that those unflattering moustaches so common to the month of November are part of a much bigger push to put men’s health on the agenda.

What’s all the fuss about?

The first question we set out to answer is why men’s health has been getting so much attention of late. One of the reasons is the increasing importance of the social context surrounding health and acknowledgement that health is influenced by the way we live, work, play and age. There is also growing interest in gender and men’s health. Gender and women’s health, with its roots in feminist theory, has been on the agenda since the mid-80’s, because of women’s marginalisation from social, economic and political structures. The way that men’s health is influenced by the cultural and social meaning attached to being male has only really begun to be explored in the last decade— traditionally men’s health has been limited to biological concerns such as disease, and prostate and testicular issues.

Another reason for the growth in the men’s health field is the evidence that men have poorer health outcomes than women in some areas. The most alarming indicator of the poor health status of men is their lower life expectancy. In 2007 life expectancy at birth was 79.3 years for men and 83.9 years for women (ABS, 2006). Most of us know this but we think it is inevitable or don’t ever stop to question why. Men are also at a higher risk than women when it comes to lifestyle factors: they drink more, smoke more and exercise less. When it comes to mental health, depression rates are equal for both the sexes, but men experience depression in a different way and are less likely to seek help (Beyond Blue, 2010). Furthermore, of the 2,101 Australian suicides in 2005, 80 per cent were male and rates are particularly high in the 22-44 age group (ABS, 2005).

In relation to men from disadvantaged groups, the inequalities are particularly stark. For example, Indigenous and migrant men are at especially high risk of poor health. Aboriginal men have a life expectancy that is 11.5 years less than other men and are much more likely to consume alcohol at risky levels than Indigenous women (ABS, 2010).This is related to a range of factors including discrimination and the loss of clearly defined roles for men as a result of displacement and changing kinship structures (Department of Health and Ageing, 2010).

As well as, and related to, these risky behaviours and poor health indicators is the Australian and international evidence that suggests men are more reluctant to use health services than women (Smith et al., 2006).There is limited research into this and no consensus on the reasons behind it. Some argue that it is because health services have not made an effort to reach out to men. For example, if a service does not cater for the specific needs of women then there is an assumption that, by default, it caters for the specific needs of men when this is not always the case.

The men’s health front

There has been a flurry of activity on the men’s health front in the last decade, the most notable of which is the release of the first National Male Health Policy. Calls for a men’s health policy began to increase in 2006 following the publication of a special edition of the Medical Journal of Australia dedicated to men’s health. Groups and individuals successfully lobbied the Government and the policy process was finally kicked off in 2008 (Saunders and Peerson, 2009). While it has taken a long time—the first women’s health policy was developed in 1989—Australia is still one of only two countries that have taken this step. The Policy commits $16.7 million to improve men’s health and, while not without its critics, seems to have been well received by those working in the field as it considers the needs of men at different ages, addresses health inequalities and at risk groups, and focuses on preventative health. The most significant commitment of the Policy was the $6.9 million for a longitudinal study into men’s health.

On a state and territory level, NSW has a men’s and boy’s health policy, South Australia has a strategic framework and Victoria is in consultation phase. The other parts of the country, including the ACT, are lagging behind in this area. Ireland is the only other country to have a health policy for men, which takes a different approach to its Australian equivalent. Ireland’s policy has adopted a number of philosophical frameworks including a “gendered and gender relations” approach which, according to the document, allows an exploration of the interrelated nature of men and women’s health; the differences between the sexes and the role of culturally defined masculine traits on men’s health (Department of Health and Children, 2009, p. 19). Australia’s policy on the other hand, sticks to a social determinants framework. While it mentions that the difference between the sexes is more than biological, its discussion of gender is limited and the word masculinity is absent from the document.

After digging a little deeper, we realised the different approaches to men’s health which are obvious if we compare the policies from Ireland and Australia are reflected elsewhere in the literature. The role of gender, and in particular the role of masculinity, is a hotly debated topic. Two authors, Michael Woods from the University of Western Sydney and Margo Saunders from the University of Adelaide, exemplify two sides of this complex and at times mind-boggling debate. Woods is of the opinion that approaches to men’s health that emphasise the impact of constructions of masculinity on ill-health are an inadequate way to shape health interventions. He argues that they portray men in a negative way (e.g. as violent, unwilling to seek help, or as risk-takers) and blame these behaviors for poorer health outcomes in some areas such as a shorter life expectancy. He also argues that gender equity frameworks are appropriate for women’s health as they tend to focus on the way women have been marginalised but not for men’s health (Woods, 2005). Margo Saunders, on the other hand, argues that we can’t ignore the reality that “hegemonic masculinity” or other culturally accepted notions of manliness are influential in men’s behaviour just because they make us uncomfortable. She claims that there is a wealth of evidence linking male behaviour to poor health and criticises the National Male Health Policy for its “hesitant” discussion of gender (Saunders and Peerson, 2009).

Moving away from policy and on to promotion, a quick search on the net reveals that cyberspace has also gone nuts for men’s health and there are a whole lot of innovative health promotion initiatives out there for men. Movember, the campaign responsible for the revival of the moustache, has been by far the most successful in raising awareness about men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and depression. For the whole month of November, men and their moustaches become “walking, talking billboards” for men’s health. Tradies Tune Up provides men in the building and construction industries with health check-ups and health information at their workplace in a mobile van while the campaign run by Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, M5, encourages men to take five steps to improve their health. At Merve’s Have a Crack Day participants play cricket against sporting celebrities to raise funds for Andrology Australia’s.

What about women?

We think it’s great that after all these years men’s health is getting all this attention; it is obvious that the area has been neglected for years and health outcomes are suffering as a result. We couldn’t help but wonder, however, what this all means for women’s health. In our opinion it presents a number of opportunities and as well as risks. A men’s health focus reinforces the idea that gender is relevant. This could be a good thing for women’s health and if it ensures more gender sensitivity in health. Improvements in men’s health also impact positively on the health of women as men are husbands, partners, fathers and friends. On the other hand, just because men’s health is the new ‘it’ thing it doesn’t mean that women’s health can be put on the backburner by policy makers, professionals and researchers. Women still have poorer health outcomes in many areas, they experience illness differently to men and they have special health concerns related to reproductive health. There also appears to be an antagonistic tone to some of the men’s health information and activities by various men’s lobby groups that pits women’s health against men’s health. The website of a prominent research and information centre for men’s health, for instance, features a whole section which is dedicated to exposing statistical inaccuracies in campaigns related to women. While it’s important to get the stats right, this feels like a vendetta and is counterproductive to goals of both movements. We need to make sure that men and women’s health initiatives complement each other and work together to improve the health of the whole population. We can’t let this gendered approach to health, which should be based on gender equity, turn into a battle between the sexes.

Reference list

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3302.0 – Deaths, Australia, 2006, released 9.11.2007
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3309.0 – Suicides, Australia, 2005, released 14.03.2007
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4704.0 – The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010, released 29.10.2010
  4. Beyond Blue, Programs for men, 8 October 2008, accessed 28.01.2011
    http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=4.1127
  5. Department of Health and Ageing, National Male Health Policy: Building on the Strengths of Australian Males, released 2010
  6. Department of Health and Children, National Men’s Health Policy 2008-2013: Working with Men in Ireland to Achieve Optimum Health and Wellbeing, released 2009
  7. Saunders, M., and Peerson, A., “Australia’s National Men’s Health Policy: Masculinity Matters”, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2009: 20 (2)
  8. Smith J. A., Braunack-Mayer, A. and Wittert, G., “What do we know about men’s help-seeking and health service use?” Medical Journal of Australia, 2006; 184 (2)
  9. Woods, M., Dying for a Policy– Men’s and Boy’s Health in Australia, Paper presented at the National Men’s Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 9th-13th October 2005

National Women’s Matters

New National Women’s Health Policy

The Australian Government has just released the second National Women’s Health Policy 2010. The policy recognises the solid foundation of the first National Women’s Health Policy Advancing Women’s Health in Australia, which was released in 1989, and delivers on a promise made in the 2007 election to revise the 20 year old Policy.

The priority health issues of the Policy are:

  1. Prevention of chronic diseases through the control of risk factors
  2. Mental health and wellbeing
  3. Sexual and reproductive health
  4. Healthy ageing

The goals of the Policy are to:

  1. Highlight the significance of gender as a key determinant of women’s health and wellbeing
  2. Acknowledge that women’s health needs differ according to their life stage
  3. Prioritise the needs of women with the highest risk of poor health
  4. Ensure the health system is responsive to all women, with a clear focus on illness and disease prevention and health promotion
  5. Support effective and collaborative research, data collection, monitoring, evaluation and knowledge transfer to advance the evidence base on women’s health

There are five groups of women identified as being at significantly higher risk of poor health: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women in rural and remote areas, women with a disability, lesbian and bisexual women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

WCHM is pleased with the development of the second National Women’s Health Policy. In particular we are pleased to see a focus on women with a disability and the social determinants of health and a lifecourse approach that recognises that women’s health needs differ according to their life stage and circumstances.

There are, however, some notable issues that are of concern to WCHM.

For example, the Policy neglects to recognise the importance to women’s health of women sensitive services such as women’s health centres, and also of the need for access to alternative services than offered through the the medical model. Dr Gwen Gray has come out strongly in the media saying “without a funded women’s health program to support services implementation, the new policy runs the risk of becoming a piece of paper promoting high-sounding ideals”.

While the document talks about the importance of gender in policy development and of listening to women, the references to what would be done are very passive: “explore opportunities for sex and gender to be increasingly considered in policy, planning and decision making” and “explore the introduction of gender modules into general health and medical education and training curriculum”.

Also, while it is good to see extra funding for the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, the information gained from it is always at the national level and does not provide data down to the ACT, so we still need to do the work locally to understand what the issues are for ACT women.

Health literacy is an issue that is not covered particularly well. There is a section in the final chapter that discusses “promoting the empowerment and participation of women in decision making about their own health care”, which does acknowledge the need to provide women with information that is easy to understand in order to improve their capacity to be involved in health decision making. However, this section does not demonstrate how health literacy and access to information will be improved.

And finally, in relation to preventative health, the document has a standard focus on obesity, tobacco and alcohol and describes these things as ‘bad behaviours’. Based on our work with ACT women, we think that preventative health is more than these three issues and that there should have been a focus on attempting to understand why some women partake in behaviours that place them at risk of chronic disease and what would work for them in addressing those behaviours. It is this knowledge that would greatly inform preventative health initiatives, especially for marginalised groups of women and women who are not health literate.


ACT Women’s Matters

New University of Canberra (UC) Research Centre for Public Health

With support from the ACT Department of Health, the UC has recently established the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health (CeRAPH). The Centre aims to provide local and national leadership in improving the quality of health promotion and wellbeing research and in disseminating this research to academic, policy and lay communities.”

The Centre will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to researching areas related to: the social determinants of health, prevention of chronic disease and the application of knowledge into policy, practice and service delivery. Most importantly to WCHM, the Centre’s research will focus on those issues greatly impacting upon the health of the ACT population, as well as the Australian population generally.

Of particular interest are three research projects currently underway into smoking among women aged 18-40, reducing health inequalities related to physical activity and healthy eating and climate change and mental heatlh, which are all concerns for women in the ACT.

We will keep an eye on the research coming out of CeRAPH with keen interest and keep you up-to-date!

Changes to the Women’s Health Service (WHS)

From January 2011 the ACT Women’s Health Service (WHS) will no longer be providing appointments for routine pap smears to all women.

WHS will give priority for all their services to women who experience significant barriers to accessing services. WHS services will be available to women who: have experienced violence, abuse and/or neglect; experience language barriers; identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; have difficulties with mental health or substance abuse issues; have a disability; are homeless or at risk of homelessness; or are financially disadvantaged.

This change, which has been endorsed by the Minster for Health, is in response to a recent review of the service which examined the vision, target population and service delivery model and made recommendations in relation to identified need for women in the community. Health and counselling services for women who do fit the criteria are soon to be expanded.

Snapshot of Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health in the ACT

The AIDS Action Council commissioned a study into the health of lesbian and bisexual women in the ACT to explore their experiences of services, their wellbeing, sexual behaviour and sexual health. Snapshot: Canberra lesbian and bisexual women’s survey received 125 completed responses, providing a decent sample upon which to identify areas for further research, education and support. Of particular interest for WCHM was that discrimination is a very real experience for lesbian and bisexual women in the ACT. Thirty-eight percent of the survey respondents reported experiencing discrimination either in their workplaces or within the community due to their ‘actual or assumed sexuality’ and 25 percent reported experiencing discomfort in accessing providers in the health and community sector because of discrimination. These findings reflect complaints WCHM has heard from ACT women that it is difficult to find service providers who are sensitive to their sexuality.

The report encouraged additional study into discrimination against lesbian and bisexual women from health providers and recommended that referral pathways to sensitive support services are created. One national initiative that is working toward this goal is DocList—a list of doctors recommended by lesbian and bisexual women for lesbian and bisexual women—an initiative of the Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA). To be on the list, the doctor must be recommended by at least one lesbian or bisexual woman. Once a recommendation is received, ALMA writes to the doctor seeking their consent to be on the list. DocList is currently being rolled out nationally and is a positive example of improving lesbian and bisexual women’s access to sensitive health providers. WCHM will also continue its work toward ensuring that health service provision meets the diverse needs of all ACT women well.

ACT Carers Need Time Off

In December 2010, the ACT Standing Committee on Health, Community and Social Service tabled its report Love Has Its Limits – Inquiry into respite care services in the ACT, highlighting the importance of access to good quality, flexible and affordable respite care services. The report set out to inquire into and report on government and non-government respite care services in the ACT with a particular focus on the needs of care recipients, carers and the staff who provide respite services.

The Committee made 28 recommendations, including: improving knowledge about how ACT Government policies, strategies and plans relating to carers and respite services will be met; the establishment of after school hours care at the 4 special schools in the ACT; additional funding to young carer programs; greater knowledge of and support for older carers; bilingual community education programs aimed at de-stigmatising disability and mental health in new and emerging communities; greater promotion of information access points; and increasing flexible respite options.

The Committee also recommended greater scrutiny of the disability sector through the establishment of an official visitor scheme for disability services and the development of better measures to ensure that all government and government funded disability services are in compliance with the National Disability Service Standards.

WCHM welcomes the release of Love Has its Limits as it captures the issues and proposes the solutions that many women in the ACT community have shared with us. We look forward to the ACT Government making strides to address the urgent and diverse needs of carers and care recipients.

One initiative is the proposed ACT Carers Charter, which the ACT Government recently sought submissions on. The Charter will provide recognition of the needs of carers in the ACT community and ensure that carers have access to services, information and support that better meets their diverse needs. WCHM was delighted to provide a submission on the discussion paper and looks forward to the creation of an ACT Carers Charter.

The Radiance Dance Project – Inclusive Community Dance Theatre Project

The Radiance Dance Project is a 40 week inclusive community arts project open to women with and without disabilities in the ACT region using the mediums of creative dance and movement theatre and culminating in two public performances. It is an annual project offered each year since 2005 by independent community arts worker Morgan Jai-Morincome with co-facilitator Min Mae.

The project values difference as a rich source of creative material and promotes a broad definition of dance accessible to all people. No specific skills, abilities or experience are required to participate. It is an opportunity for women from diverse backgrounds to come together and create, collaborate and connect.

Participants in general range in age from 20’s through to 60’s. They come from diverse backgrounds experiencing a wide range of disability types and no identified disability at all. Participants are in employment, unemployed, retired and attend because they want to experience the wealth of benefits this project offers individuals and community.

Radiance is an award winning community arts education program for adults unique to Canberra and continues to be a leading example of social inclusion through the arts.

When: Wednesdays 10am-12.30pm
Starts Wednesday 9th February for 40 weeks (excluding ACT school holidays)
Where: Majura Community Centre Hall, Rosevear Pl, Dickson
Cost: Free (support worker/carer & transport costs need to be met by participants using these services). Participant places are subsidised by project funding. There may be some small costs associated with clothing for performance.

Enrolment is essential as places are limited.

This program is provided with the support of the ACT government through ArtsACT.

To enrol or obtain more information please contact Morgan Jai-Morincome on 62951601 or 0400 455 965 or email enquiry@expressivearts.com.au.


WCHM Matters

Great Strides in 2010

WCHM had a very productive 2010, using the results of our work with ACT women to advocate for change. Below is a summary of the great work produced by the WCHM team.

WCHM prepared submissions to the:

  1. ACT Budget Consultation 2010-11
  2. ACT Women’s Health Plan
  3. Whole of ACT Government Statement on Family Violence
  4. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health discussion paper Patient- and Consumer-Centred Care
  5. ACT Preliminary Model of Care for the Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit (AYAMHIU) and the ACT Secure Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit (SAMHIU)
  6. ACT discussion paper Maximising Potential: improving life transitions for young people in care
  7. Independent Review of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC)
  8. ACT Review of Taxis
  9. Review of the ACT Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994
  10. ACT Comorbidity Strategy
  11. National Carer’s Strategy discussion paper
  12. Proposed ACT Carers Charter

We also prepared separate joint submissions with the ACT Women and Prisons (WAP) Group and Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) to the ACT Budget Consultation 2010-11.

2010 was also a busy time for reports, with the following reports released:

  1. The preliminary findings from a survey of women mental health carers in the ACT
  2. It goes with the Territory! ACT Women’s Views about Health and Wellbeing Information
  3. Out of Reach – Women living with mental health issues in the ACT: What hinders their access to legal support?
  4. A report on the findings of the WCHM project Cultural Awareness Training for ACT Women’s Services
  5. A report on the findings of a WCHM Roundtable and survey about older women in decision making aspects of service provision in the ACT.

WCHM had the opportunity to work with several wonderful students throughout 2010 from the Australian National University (ANU), the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the University of Canberra (UC). In all we have worked with five students and embarked upon five fascinating and topical research projects, ranging from older women’s social connectedness to medical school students’ knowledge of gender sensitive health service delivery. All five of the projects will continue and be completed in 2011 – some with and some sadly without the students. We congratulate Jasmine and Kat for completing their study and gaining employment, although we’ll miss them!

In particular, however, WCHM has been so fortunate to work with many ACT women who have committed their time, experience, skills and stories to further the work of the Centre. Whether they completed surveys, attended focus groups, developed and delivered cultural sensitivity training, participated in forums or consultations or contributed to one of our projects, their involvement is the driving force behind WCHM.

Grants

WCHM staff were busy over December and January preparing applications for the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program funding round. We submitted applications for six health promotion related projects and look forward to knowing the outcome of the funding round in the coming months.

If successful these Grant applications will allow WCHM to access funding for one-off projects to trial new initiatives or to roll out responses to the findings from our research and from ACT women and which otherwise might not be able to happen from core funding.

We are now working on applications for the ACT Women’s Grants Program funding round.


WCHM Women at Work

Staff

Since our last e-bulletin Kate Judd, our Project Worker (Mental Health), was successful in obtaining a position with the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) as a Project and Policy Officer and finished her work with WCHM in late November. WCHM wishes Kate all the best in her new role and is confident that she will continue her great work in advocating for improved services and support for women (and now men) living with mental health issues. Following Kate’s departure, the Centre recruited Laura Pound into the Project Worker (Mental Health) position. Laura started work with the Centre in mid-January and no doubt will make a great contribution to our work.

In the last e-bulletin we introduced Nicole O’Callaghan the Policy/Administration Officer for Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT). Nicole has had a busy few months at the Centre, working to ensure that the interests of women with disabilities are well represented in the ACT. Both Nicole and Laura wanted to introduce themselves and their work to the WCHM Board and members…

Hello from Laura

I have only recently started working with the WCHM in January 2011, and am excited to be continuing on with the fantastic work of Kate Judd. I am a Social Worker who has most recently worked at The Canberra Hospital, and have previously completed a Sociology thesis on the topic of whether using the Internet empowers women. I hope to bring my passion for issues affecting women to my work at the WCHM!

I am currently continuing a project which researches and analyses how to develop peer support programs for women living with a mental illness in the ACT. Over the coming months I will be finalising the evaluations of two peer support groups in the ACT: Women Supporting Women at the Woden Community Centre and the ACT Women and Prisons (WAP) group. The project report will be finished mid year and I am hopeful that following from this a resource for the ACT community will be compiled on how to develop, implement and evaluate peer support groups.

I am also continuing to work with the ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group to ensure the perspectives of women living with a mental health issue are heard in a variety of forums. For example, they have commissioned a project which aims to represent the experiences of women mental health carers in the ACT and investigate the gaps in service provision and support.

Hello from Nicole

My name is Nicole and I am the Policy/Administration Officer for Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) as of October 2010. WWDACT has had tremendous and valid input into ACT policy direction thanks to a dedicated steering committee and committed volunteers who have worked tirelessly to promote the interests of women with disabilities in the ACT within every facet of the ACT government.

During 2011, WWDACT will continue to positively contribute to ACT whole of government policies that impact upon women with disabilities in the ACT. WWDACT will also continue to empower and encourage its members to play an integral part in the ACT community through its continued systemic advocacy and peer support work. WWDACT’s membership have a distinct and unique contribution to the inclusive society that everyone is trying to create within the ACT and WWDACT will actively work to promote and endorse these contributions of our membership.

Projects

The ACT Women and Prisons (WAP) Group

As well as welcoming a new member with lived experience to its ranks, the ACT Women and Prisons Group has spent the last few months working hard to develop its strategic direction and organisational capacity so it can better represent itself to Government and other organisations and better support women involved in the criminal justice system.

Courtesy of the ACT Office for Women, WAP was able to do this over the course of two professionally facilitated Planning Workshops. WAP reflected on past achievements and lessons learnt, considered the external environment and developed a list of priorities and areas for its work for 2011/12. All this introspection paid dividends in the end, as WCHM was then able to support the WAP women to develop a Strategic Framework and draft a Budget Submission to the ACT Budget requesting recurrent funding. Recurrent funding will assist the organisation to advocate for a marginalised group of women and move away from a reliance on volunteers.

Women’s Services Network (WESNET) Symposium

WCHM staff member Angela Carnovale and WWDACT member Sarah Ferguson had the opportunity to travel to Sydney in November to deliver a presentation at the WESNET Annual General Meeting Symposium. WCHM was asked to attend the symposium to present the findings of the 2009 report Women with Disabilities Accessing Crisis Services, a WESNET funded project. The presentation went remarkably well, with domestic violence and crisis service workers from around the country indicating that they would benefit from a training package to assist their service in better meeting the needs of women with disabilities.

Older Women’s Safety Audits

In October 2010, WCHM was successful in gaining funding under the Seniors Grants and Sponsorship Program funding by the ACT Office for Ageing, Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services (DHCS). This grant will be used to undertake older women’s safety audits in 2011. The purpose of the project is to mobilise older women in the ACT to discuss their safety concerns and come up with ideas about how to make public spaces safer and more frequently used by older women. This project will be completed throughout 2011, so stay tuned for updates!


Worth Checking Out…

Research Officer Bianca Fileborn wrote an interesting article for the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, part of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Her article, Addressing sexual assault through human rights instruments, takes a look at the possibilities for and limitations of addressing violence against women through a human rights framework.

Mission Australia’s National Survey of Young People 2010 was released in November last year and proves an insightful read into the issues that effect and concern Australia’s youth. Body image was the leading personal concern, while the environment was regarded as the greatest concern to the nation. The survey has been conducted annually since 2002 and in 2010 received a record 50,000 respondents between the ages of 11 and 24.

The Mental Health Council of Australia have recently released their Mental Health Carers Report 2010, which presents the first national collection of data on mental health carers based on the fifteen priority issues identified by mental health carers. This is the first report to follow MHCA’s 2009 Adversity to Advocacy: the lives and hopes of mental health carers, in which the fifteen priority issues were first realised. This may be the beginning of a long-term tracking of the concerns of mental health carers and how well Government policy and program initiatives are responding to them.

The NSW Office for Women has recently launched an information website about domestic violence. The site is primarily designed for women experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic violence and includes features that are sensitive to their needs such as instructions on how to clear internet search histories and a prominent “exit this site now” button that immediately redirects to a neutral page. The site is also good for those who wish to know more about domestic violence or are worried about a friend or family member.

The Dawn Chorus is a blog for “young (and not so young!) Australian feminists” to write about contemporary issues such as health, politics, the media, sex, relationships and popular culture “from a feminist perspective, however we may choose to define it”. The Dawn Chorus is in honour of Louisa Lawson – tireless women’s rights campaigner – who singlehandedly created the The Dawn in 1888, a journal for women by women.

A new report has been published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies titled Insights into sexual assault perpetration: Giving voice to victim/survivors’ knowledge. The report aims to add to an understanding of sexual offending by asking the victims and survivors about their experience. The participants variously described the perpetrator “charming, skilled at exploiting people, controlling, talkative and engaging” and were “respected by their friends and peers”. It is hoped the Giving Voice project, of which this report is part, will fill the gap in knowledge about sexual assault perpetration.

Walking enthusiasts in the ACT are encouraged to check out the new online portal CANwalk. An initiative of the Heart Foundation ACT and funded by the ACT Government, CANwalk is an online hub of all events and groups for Canberra walkers of every persuasion – leisure walkers, bushwalkers and walkers who love to walk for days!