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Knowing on the bad days, there will be good days ahead was just one of a number of key messages to come out of our ‘MATES NIGHT’ held in Ulverstone in North West Tasmania on June 15th as part of Men’s Health Week (MHW).

Challenge and adversity can seemingly come out of the blue, changes to our work life, financial stress, relationship trouble and health issues are things we all deal with in life and despite what we might see or think, nobody is immune to these issues. We can try to sidestep challenges in life but eventually they will need to be faced and having mates around who can encourage and lift your spirits during tough times or knowing where to turn for support can help lessen the weight and time we spend carrying our problems around.

The theme for MHW this year was ‘Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys’ with our event aimed at highlighting how important mateship and conversations can be for men at any stage of life. A healthy environment doesn’t need to look fancy or have the latest technology, it can be a yarn over a coffee, a snag and a chat at a BBQ or going for a walk with a group of mates. Mates Night kicked off with guests enjoying delicious pizza from Herbs Pizza Ulverstone and yummy Red Velvet cake from McCarthy’s Bread Lounge whilst watching an entertaining and thought provoking short film by author and multi award winning filmmaker Beau Miles called ‘Mile and Hour’.

Running the equivalent of a marathon over 24hrs whilst making things, doing odd jobs and fixing stuff, Mile and Hour is a film about a bloke running, doing, and thinking. Many of us have little odd jobs which need doing around the home, often one’s that would not take long to do but they seem to end up on the bottom of the list. Our physical and mental health is similar, we sometimes know when things aren’t quite right but push through anyway putting our own wellbeing last on the list. The reality with our health, like those little odd jobs around the home, it’s better to keep on top of things or they build up and become harder to get on top of.

Hoping it’s not an issue, worried about what others might think or knowing what information to trust are all topics that Healthy Male looked at for Men’s Health Week so that keeping on top of your health can be a little easier.

Following the film we welcomed two local businessmen to the stage for a wide ranging chat about the challenges and rewards of running a small business whilst also finding time for family and their own time out.

Shaun McCarthy from McCarthy’s Bread Lounge Ulverstone and Shaun Kelly from Ulverstone Mowers and Chainsaws spoke about how they got started in their working life to where they are now. Sharing a strong work ethic to learn and grow from a young age both men have been able to build successful businesses but not without some challenges, setbacks and a lot of hard work along the way.

Shaun McCarthy spoke about the impact of COVID on the business in the lead up to this year’s Easter long weekend and then forced to make the difficult decision to close the shop due to mechanical issues with the oven, a baker’s worst nightmare at the busiest time of year. Though incredibly stressful, Shaun was able to talk things through with the people close to him and redirected his energy into getting the shop ready to open.

Over at Ulverstone Mowers and Chainsaws where Shaun Kelly has worked since he was in his final years at school, the challenges came mostly in managing stock levels and staffing since the pandemic began. Managing the business accounts with significant investment in orders that were at times hard to source, employing and training new staff whilst also running sales, repairs and services for customers, the pressure to find time for everything and everyone was always there. Shaun spoke about how important it was for him to take time out with his family and mates, to have time where he could relax and switch off from work for a while.

When asked about the men they had looked up to or learned from in life Shaun McCarthy spoke about his Pop and recalled happy memories from times spent tinkering in the shed, helping do odd jobs and simply enjoying time he spent being around him. Speaking from the heart as he did, Shaun reminded us all that talking about the significant people in our lives who have passed away can be hard but it’s important to remember them and the influence they had in our lives.

Sometimes it’s not a single person who stands out but many, Shaun Kelly spoke about how he has learned from different men over the years, some at school, work and even mates who all in some way helped shape his values and work ethics. Being able to ask for a hand or offer help to others is something Shaun also spoke about. Recognising when a mate, co-worker or family member might be going through a difficult time and checking in with them is always important. Most of us want to help out when we can and although we may get busy and have our own things going on, checking in with a mate shows them you care and they matter.

To round out our Mates Night, we looked back at the MHW theme for 2022 and our belief in social connection as a critical element of a healthy environment that we can, for the most part, do or create at no expense other than our time. Check in with a mate, invite them out for a coffee, go to a Mr Perfect BBQ or head out for some fresh air and light exercise with other blokes on The Man Walk.

A healthy environment does not need to be a place, it can simply be somewhere we spark up a conversation on any topic and know someone is there to listen and we have mates who will encourage and support us on the bad days and be there alongside us to share in the good days. Special thanks to Shaun McCarthy and Shaun Kelly for taking part in the discussion and to all the people who were able to join us for Mates Night to celebrate Men’s Health Week 2022.

Congratulations to our Mates Night raffle prize winners –

· Weber Baby Q + cover – Ticket #0239 Gleeson · Makita 4 Stroke Blower – Ticket #0256 Leicster · 4x4 Camping Gear – Ticket #0189 MacLachlan · Devonport 4x4 Gift Voucher – Ticket #0242 Wade · Devonport 4x4 Gift Voucher – Ticket #0237 Redman · IGA Ulverstone Railway Grocery Voucher – Ticket #0179 Bob · Herb’s Pizza Ulverstone Meal Voucher – Ticket #0395 Schenkel

McCarthy’s Bread Lounge Gift Voucher (5 Winners)

· Ticket #0090 Ives · Ticket #0215 Smith · Ticket #0413 Regina · Ticket #0428 Turner · Ticket #0405 Nichelle

Thank you to the businesses and community groups who supported Mates Night;

And to the businesses and community groups who have supported Men Care Too initiatives in the NW of Tasmania;

The 'MATES NIGHT' was funded by the North West Suicide Prevention Trial Site through Relationships Australia Tasmania.

Men Care Too is proudly auspiced by the IRIS Foundation.


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