The ACT is set to welcome three new “Men’s Tables” by the end of the year thanks to a collaboration with Communities at Work and The Snow Foundation.
A grassroots not-for-profit group, The Men’s Table helps diverse groups across the country to create unique places to share and be heard in confidential, non-judgmental environments.
“By meeting for a meal once a month in the same place, we help men build meaningful male friendships and connection,” regional host Michael Collins said.
“Contrary to what might be common thinking, our research tells us that men are in fact actively looking for opportunities to connect with other men, and they are talking about their feelings and emotions given the right circumstances.
“Sitting at a Table and talking with other men helps us feel comfortable about overturning those outdated masculine norms; always fixing things ourselves, hiding emotions, holding back tears and fears – none of these behaviours are helpful to any man.”
Of the 67 Men’s Tables currently operating nationwide, Canberra’s one small site is located in Ainslie.
Memberships typically vary between eight and 12 per Table, so about 700 men currently benefit from the national peer support community program.
Its funding partnership with two Canberra-based community organisations will expand this presence in Canberra.
“We know that belonging to a Table positively impacts men’s emotional and mental wellbeing, and it has a ripple effect into the other relationships in their lives,” Michael said.
“Sharing those benefits with the Canberra community is exciting.”
The annual Men’s Table survey revealed 81 per cent of members felt being part of a Table impacted positively on other relationships in their lives, including with their spouses and partners (70 per cent), families (63 per cent), and other men (57 per cent).
Members also claimed multiple benefits including “the ability to share feelings and be vulnerable” (82 per cent), “belonging to a community” (76 per cent), and “a safe place” (73 per cent).
A Men’s Table “Entrée” is an introduction to how it all works. It’s an opportunity for local men to come together, meet other men and decide if joining a Table is for them.
The first of the new groups – Canberra North – will host its Entrée at Eastlake Football Club, Gungahlin.
Eastlake marketing manager Saniya Kankanady said the venue was the ideal base from which the Northside Table could break the ice in the community.
“Canberra Northside has such a diverse background and Eastlake’s patronship reflects that,” she said.
“We have diverse customer segments in terms of age and background; we believe it will be great for The Men’s Table’s outreach.
“Northside people are very open minded and enthusiastic about community engagement in general, as well.”
David Pollard is keen to attend the upcoming Entrée.
The resident and member of Gungahlin Community Council, who has long been involved in various Northside community groups, is helping The Men’s Table anchor itself locally.
“I was very drawn to The Men’s Table when I first learned about the concept because in some of the communities I’m involved in, our audiences are mainly women,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily for lack of interest among the men but lack of opportunity, time and priority.
“I feel there are gaps when it comes to this type of thing for men, something connecting men to their communities.
“I’ve been in my various roles for quite some years now, I’ve connected with people of all walks of life from my various community groups and I see the value in it. I think it’s something a lot of men are missing.”
The Canberra North Entrée on Tuesday, 16 August runs from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Eastlake Football Club, Gungahlin.
Registrations are essential and cover the cost of your meal and a drink. For more information or to register, visit the The Men’s Table Canberra North.