Indigenous men learn strength in numbers

By EVERARD HIMMELREICH June 29, 2013, 4 a.m.

A FILM called Mad Bastards is being used to inspire local indigenous men to reach their potential and become community leaders.

The award-winning movie tells the story of an Aboriginal man rebuilding a relationship with his estranged son and getting his life back on track.

Although it has not received widespread distribution, the movie has been received enthusiastically by men’s groups throughout Australia.

It was screened this week at a Strong Men’s gathering of indigenous men from the Warrnambool and Moyne areas.

The gathering at the Warrnambool Community Health Centre was addressed by Jack Bulman from the Mibbinbah men’s spaces group, who said the movie was used as an ice-breaker to stimulate discussion about how Aboriginal people could empower themselves.

“The participants already know the answers, we just help them to act upon those answers,” he said.

Among the issues discussed at the Warrnambool gathering were the movie’s portrayal of family violence.

South West Healthcare Aboriginal health programs manager, Allan Miller, said the gathering first created “a safe place” for people to discuss sensitive issues by establishing guidelines for behaviour, such as showing respect for each other.

“It’s a group decision on what happens,” Mr Miller said.

The two-day gathering also provided local feedback about a national campaign being developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men by the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia.

Mr Bulman said the gathering was a “taster” for an eight-week program for Aboriginal men that Mibbinbah hoped to later run in the region.

Mibbinbah will also hold a five-day camp later this year for local Aboriginal men about building up the strength of their communities.

The camp will be run in conjunction with the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative, Kirrae Health Services and South West Healthcare.

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