My role


Australian men's health policy launched in a shed

The Australian government has published its men's health policy document: Building on the Strengths of Australian Males.

Kevin RuddPrime minister Kevin Rudd, right, launched the document last month at a shed in Melbourne. 'Blokes are pretty hopeless when it comes to deal with their own health,' he told Australian Associated Press. His government is making an initial investment of $16.7 million to assist in addressing male health challenges.

But why a shed? The Australian Men's Shed Association offers an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture - a place where men can talk. The funding package includes $3 million for the Australian Men's Sheds Association. 

The publication was warmly welcomed by Australian men's health consultant Greg Millan. 'After at least fifteen years of hard work by a dedicated number of men and women working in the men's health field in Australia, we have seen the Rudd Government launch Australia’s first ever National Male Health Policy. After Ireland we are now the second country in the world to have a National Men's Health Policy.'

Kevin Rudd said: 'The National Male Health Policy has been developed through extensive consultations with health services, health professionals, and men themselves in 26 public forums attended by 1,300 people. The Policy provides a framework for improving the health of all males into the new decade, laid out in 6 priority areas. It encourages men of all ages to take action to improve their own health and recognises that this requires information, assistance and support.' 

Six priority areas

The government press release goes on to outline what the $16.7 million commitment includes:

  • $3 million for the Australian Men's Sheds Association to help secure the future of men’s sheds and support new sheds, especially in areas of high need. Men’s sheds play an important role in the community by providing meeting places where men can find social support and camaraderie.
  • $6.9 million to establish the first Australian longitudinal study into the social determinants of male health to understand and address all of the determining factors – social, economic and behavioural – that affect the ength and quality of life of Australian men.
  • $6 million to promote the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, and encourage them to actively participate in their children’s and families’ lives, particularly during the antenatal period and in early childhood.
  • $400,000 for regular bulletins on male health to further build the evidence base in male health and inform health professionals, policy developers and consumers.
  • $350,000 to develop health promotion materials targeting males at key transition points in life, available for distribution in men’s sheds and more broadly.
  • $50,000 to support general practitioners to focus on better ways to engage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait males through sponsoring the Andrology Australia annual forum in June 2010.

While the life expectancy of the Australian man at 78.7 years is among the highest in the world, this is still five years shorter than the expected life of an Australian woman at 83.7 years. This is partly due to preventable conditions or where men experience premature deaths such as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer at higher rates than women. Moreover, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are particularly vulnerable, living on average 11.5 years less than non-Indigenous men.
The policy focuses on taking action in six priority areas:

  • Optimal health outcomes for males – Deliver initiatives and services that take into account the needs of Australian men and promote optimal health outcomes for all Australian men.
  • Health equity between population groups of males – Recognising some groups of men have worse health outcomes than others, like those living in rural and remote communities, and that different initiatives and services may be needed.
  • Improved health for males at different life stages – Deliver initiatives and services that consider the health needs of Australian men in different age groups and at key transition points from youth to old age.
  • A focus on preventive health for males – Deliver preventative health initiatives that take into account the needs of Australian men.
  • Building a strong evidence base on male health – Build the evidence base in Australian male health and use it to inform the development of policies, programs and initiatives.
  • Improved access to health care for males – Tailor health care services and initiatives to facilitate access by men, particularly for population groups of men at risk of poor health.

The National Male Health Policy is available at

Page created on June 1st, 2010

Page updated on June 1st, 2010