Apunipima hosts Men’s Health Summit in Hope Vale

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From Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, males from all over the Cape descended on Elim Beach Camp Ground near Hope Vale for a Men’s Health Summit hosted by Apunipima Cape York Health Council. The event focused squarely on men’s health, with four nights of camping giving the men an opportunity to relax and connect with other men from across the Cape in a remote location free of many of the distractions of regular daily life.

The Summit was hosted by Apunipima’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing team and was the culmination of months of planning and preparation by the Summit’s working group, in collaboration with Apunipima’s Health Workers on the ground in community, who did a fantastic job facilitating participation for the event as well as transport to and from Elim Beach.

The Summit was attended by men from the communities of Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Mossman Gorge and Wujal Wujal. The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Growing Together as Fathers, Providers and Protectors’, with guest speakers, discussions and activities centered around men’s business and how to be the best men they can be for their families and for their communities.

MC for the week was one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra. The very popular former cultural dancer addressed the summit with his unique blend of history, cultural knowledge and spiritual wisdom, delivered with loads of energy and plenty of cheek. Also speaking throughout the summit was BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former Gold Coast Titans player Davin Crompton and more including academics, athletes, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

The guest speakers shared the microphone with Apunipima staff, who presented on various men’s health topics to promote the services that Apunipima has available to men in community. The Health Promotion crews also spoke including the Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Sexual Health and Rheumatic Heart Disease teams who presented on some of the key health issues facing Cape York’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The program was structured to present different topics to the men daily to promote conversation throughout the day and into the night. Some of the key themes to come out of the week were, looking after yourself, providing a safe place for men in community, talking about and sharing your problems, and being good male role models for both your own kids and other kids in community.

“We planned to have all the heavy conversations in the morning, and then to have the cultural activities after lunch so the guys could get out and explore the country. After dinner each day, the men retired to their camp groups to discuss the day, with yarning guided by guest speakers and Apunipima staff,” said the Summit’s Project Officer and local traditional owner, Kurtis Gibson.

According to Kurtis – who belongs to the Guugu Yimithirr Warra nation, feedback at the event from the participants and staff was that the Summit was well-received, with several participants indicating they’re keen to come back to the event if it’s held next year.

Talking about the outcomes of the Summit, Kurtis said, “it’s safe to say, the guys took a lot out of it and found it very helpful as a safe space to unwind and discuss ways to improve their health. Men’s health is a topic that often doesn’t get discussed, or gets pushed down the priorities list. We want to change that and hopefully some of the discussions that we’ve had this week will be the foundation for further progress in the men’s health space back in community.”