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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 16(2)

Indigenous men’s support groups and social and emotional wellbeing: a meta-synthesis of the evidence

Janya McCalman A G, Komla Tsey A, Mark Wenitong B, Andrew Wilson C, Alexandra McEwan D, Yvonne Cadet James E, Mary Whiteside F

A School of Education, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.
B Apunipima Cape York Health Council, PO Box 12045, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.
C Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Qld 4059, Australia.
D School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.
E School of Indigenous Australian Studies and Cairns Research Institute, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
F School of Social Work and Social Policy, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Vic. 3086, Australia.
G Corresponding author. Email: janya.mccalman@jcu.edu.au
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Indigenous men’s support groups are designed to empower men to take greater control and responsibility for their health and wellbeing. They provide health education sessions, counselling, men’s health clinics, diversionary programs for men facing criminal charges, cultural activities, drug- and alcohol-free social events, and advocacy for resources. Despite there being ~100 such groups across Australia, there is a dearth of literature on their strategies and outcomes. This paper is based on participatory action research involving two north Queensland groups which were the subject of a series of five ‘phased’ evaluative reports between 2002 and 2007. By applying ‘meta-ethnography’ to the five studies, we identified four themes which provide new interpretations of the data. Self-reported benefits included improved social and emotional wellbeing, modest lifestyle modifications and willingness to change current notions of ‘gendered’ roles within the home, such as sharing housework. Our qualitative research to date suggests that through promoting empowerment, wellbeing and social cohesion for men and their families, men’s support groups may be saving costs through reduced expenditure on health care, welfare, and criminal justice costs, and higher earnings. Future research needs to demonstrate this empirically.

Keywords: empowerment, health.

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