Building on the strengths of Australian males

Australian males generally enjoy better health and a longer life expectancy than males in most other countries in the world.

Page last updated: 20 May 2010

Minister's foreword

In the past half century males have displayed substantial strengths and resilience in the face of significant social, economic and cultural changes in our society.
This includes major changes to roles and expectations, which may have been challenging for both males and females, and continued economic pressures on many males as breadwinners and income-earners.

For too long we have accepted the stereotype of the indestructible Aussie male.

Life’s circumstances can make it difficult for males to make healthy choices and to access the health care and information necessary to achieve optimal health.

Research shows that Australian males have, on average, a shorter life expectancy than Australian females, dying at 78.7 years compared to 83.7 years for females.

To address these and a number of other health challenges facing males in Australia, the Government made an election commitment in 2007 to develop the nation’s first National Male Health Policy.

Importantly, the foundations of this policy were built from what we have heard males right across Australia telling us about their health needs. In 2009, more than 1300 people participated in 26 public forums in regional and metropolitan locations in each state and territory. Participants repeatedly told us that they wanted to see a positive, strengths-based policy.

They also made it clear they wanted a policy that is not just for men, but for Australian males of all ages.

This Policy provides a framework for improving male health across Australia – with a focus on taking action on multiple fronts.

It recognises the need to engage males about their health; raise awareness about preventable health problems affecting males; improve the use of existing health resources by males and reduce access barriers; and target males with poor health outcomes.

There are six priority areas for action set out in the policy and it is up to us all – government, the health and non‑government sectors, and males themselves – to make a difference.

I also encourage males to learn more about their own health, to adopt healthy routines, to have regular health checks to prevent chronic disease, and to seek medical help when needed.

Taking good health action is a strength that enables males to enjoy life as well as to fulfill the important roles that they have in families, the wider community, and the social and economic life of Australia.

Warren Snowdon
Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery
May 2010