Creating leaders in communities that need them the most

  • Date: 29 October 2018
  • Category: News
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Pictured: YMCA Victoria staff, Glenn Lloyd, Kristyn Cornthwaite, Mo Mudaliar and Tori Norris, smiling proudly at the second Men of Doveton graduation. 

After the success of the inaugural Men of Doveton program earlier this year, Mo Mudaliar, program MC and Health and Wellness Coordinator at Casey Aquatic and Recreation Centre, and Tori Norris, YMCA Casey Community Engagement Coordinator, welcomed 26 new participants with an aim to continue building healthy masculinity in the community.

With double the amount of participants this time around, Mo and Tori gladly accepted the offer from men who had graduated from the first program to come back as team leaders.

“Not only was I happy that these men put up their hand to volunteer for the program, I was inspired to see that the program works and that we are creating leaders within the community,” said Mo.

Stuart was among those men who stuck up their hand to be a team leader. Men of Doveton dramatically impacted his life and when it was time for him to graduate, he didn’t want to leave.

“I was going through a tough divorce and realised that I didn’t have a support network to help me get through it. That’s when I decided to join the program,” said Stuart.

“If it wasn’t for Men of Doveton, I wouldn’t be here today. I learnt so much about men’s mental and physical health, and now it’s time for me to step up and share my knowledge with the community.”

The participants meet every Monday night over the course of 12 weeks to play an hour of sport, followed by educational training sessions surrounding topics such as domestic violence, mental health and addiction. Different speakers, organisations and foundations run these sessions including White Ribbon Australia, Be Well (a seminar run by City of Casey) and Diabetes Victoria.

The sessions aim to break the toxic stigma around masculinity, providing a safe space for the men to discuss these topics and share their experiences.

“The sessions are extremely helpful and have taught me so much. Men of Doveton made me understand that abuse isn’t always physical. Even things like giving the silent treatment are a form of emotional abuse, which is just as damaging,” said participant Andrew, who attends the program with his brother, Dave, and son, Zac.

After a session by White Ribbon Australia on domestic violence, all of the men rallied together and made a pledge to stand up against domestic and family violence.

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Pictured: Participants of the second Men of Doveton program smiling at their graduation. 

Initially Men of Doveton was designed to help men who are vulnerable within the community, but it has become so much more than that. The program is about being proactive, adjusting the stigma around masculinity and, most importantly, it’s about developing leaders in the community.

“The men now have a Facebook group where they organise to meet up outside of the program. They go to the movies, they cook together, they go on hikes. They are positively influencing each other and the community around them,” said Mo.

With the second Men of Doveton wrapping up earlier this month, Mo and Tori have already locked in dates for February 2019.

“It has been an incredible privilege to walk alongside these men, who took a huge leap of faith when they enrolled to spend three months with us,” said Tori.

“Each man has made me proud, made themselves proud and made each other proud. We can’t wait for next year!”

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