November saw a new beginning for YFER with COL training being held for the first time for men only. This request came from Yirrkala community in East Arnhem NT, where COL have been operating for over 4 years. The 2 day training attracted an energised group of staff from a cross section of services including Yirrkala Health centre, Miwatj Aboriginal Health Corps and East Arnhem Shire Council. This group of men all with a drive to assist young men in the region to prepare in a more informed manner for fatherhood comprised of Youth workers, Remote area nurses, Aboriginal health workers, doctor and council staff. Together between them they developed a strong repall, interacted closely learning elements of the COL program, and then spent valuable hours sharing ideas about how they can model a program suitable for sharing with young men – specifically young Indigenous men. All support the need to for a program to reflect respect for local culture, but all were also in agreeance that youth also face the challenge of understanding how modern ideas of fatherhood coming to them through media, music, school and life in general will affect the choices young men make in the future.
This training was a key step forward in YFER's endeavour to create sounder programs which reflect gender, cultural, language, literacy and religious needs. It is the beginning of a series of forums which will be conducted around Australia over the coming year gathering feedback which will assist in designing a new, more , male reproductive health education program.
YFER would like to thank Peter Gazey, John Pracy and Richard Van den Verdonk for their efforts and commitment to making the first male training the success it was.
Stay tuned for updates on where and when these forums will occur.