Men living in Moreland and the neighbouring northern suburbs of Melbourne are increasingly experiencing low physical health, poor mental health and social isolation. To combat this issue, Active Moreland launched the Men of Moreland program. Active Moreland is a collection of aquatic and leisure centres owned by Moreland City Council and managed by YMCA Victoria.

Following the success of City of Casey’s Men of Doveton program, the Men of Moreland program aims to challenge traditional gender stereotypes through the promotion of physical wellbeing, mental health and social connectedness. The program supports men through the exploration of topics such as nutrition, gambling, mental health and mindfulness, respectful relationships, gender equality and the prevention of violence against women.

Each Monday evening of the program, the 21 participants took part in some form of exercise facilitated by Active Moreland trainers and representatives from the Coburg Football Club, aiming to improve physical wellbeing. The second half of the session focuses on improving mental wellbeing through presentations, workshops and discussions led by community influencers, clubs and services, including Gamblers Help, HeadSpace Glenroy and Carlton Football Club.

Louisa Caldwell, former Active Moreland Community and Engagement Director, coordinates the Men of Moreland program and was inspired by the participants’ willingness to learn, be honest and step out of their comfort zone.

I learnt a lot from them, and while many of the conversations we had weren’t easy, they were conversations that needed to happen and should happen a lot more.” Louisa Caldwell, former Active Moreland Community and Engagement Director

At the end of the program, the participants celebrated their journey at a graduation ceremony with friends and family. Two participants, Nathan and Blair, shared their stories of how the program impacted them. For Nathan, Men of Moreland helped him not only learn how to cook a nutritionally balanced meal and how to exercise, it also challenged his view of masculinity.

The most profound change for me from Men of Moreland is how I would define masculinity... I now define masculinity as something that comes from within. For me it’s finding the confidence to be the man that I am, to love him and be the best version of that man. I owe it to Men of Moreland for helping me find him.” Nathan, Men of Moreland participant

Blair shared a similar story. After enduring financial hardship and experiencing health issues, Blair found himself in a downward spiral. However, he slowly picked himself back up and decided to join Men of Moreland.

This program taught me to not give up, to be a better man, to stand up and be a better leader in my family and the community. I am in a better mental space as a result of participating in Men of Moreland, and my fitness and health has improved. I honestly believe that this kind of initiative should be rolled out and run in every community across the country. There are many men out there who would greatly benefit from the topics, lessons and storytelling that came out of the Men of Moreland nights.” Blair, Men of Moreland participant

Following the success of the first Men of Moreland program, the Active Moreland team are excited to create more programs like this in the future.

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