The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, has announced grants to appoint regional coordinators in each state and territory to promote men’s health through men’s sheds.
In doing so he has turned down $545,000 of in-kind support from four leading Australian universities that were partners with the Council of Australian Men’s Shed Associations (CAMSA).
The estimated value of the contributions is based on the time of the staff who would have been involved with the projects, plus the administration, IT and other support provided by the universities.
The projects would also have utilized the multi-disciplinary expertise of the staff and the men’s shed projects would have gained additional benefits arising from leveraging off other research projects.
An extremely important additional feature of the proposals from the four universities was that they would have evaluated the effectiveness of the messages and other support provided to the men. Over the ten years that the government has been providing funding to men’s sheds, there has been virtually no evaluation of how effective the health promotion efforts have been.
This is a missed opportunity to ‘build the evidence base for improving the health wellbeing of men and boys’, which is a key objective of the National Men’s Health Strategy.
The estimated value of the in-kind contributions by the universities over the three years of the program were:
- School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, which included a mobile van that would have been used in visits to regional, rural and remote men’s sheds $155,000.
- Freemasons Centre for Male Health & Wellbeing-SA Division, $180,000.
- Freemasons Centre for Male Health & Wellbeing – Northern Territory, Menzies School of Health Research $80,000.
- Health and Identity Lab in the Research School of Psychology at the Australian National University, covering both NSW and the ACT $130,000.
The in-kind support from the universities that has been forgone would have added 66% to the resources devoted to this very important strategy to improve men’s health.
This decision gives an additional $600,000 to the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA), in addition to the $2.7 million that it will receive for essentially doing the same work.
CAMSA supported the successful applications from the Victorian Men’s Shed Association, Men’s Sheds of WA and the Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association. These organisations receive funding from their state governments and provide the overwhelming support to men’s sheds in those states. These state organisations are not members of AMSA.
The development of a similar capacity for the associations in NSW, Queensland and South Australia is one of the goals of CAMSA.