On Tuesday Morning, Menslink held our 12th Annual Business Breakfast at the QT Hotel.
The event was out biggest yet with a sell-out crowd of 560 guests including representatives from a wide range of businesses and government departments as well as local sporting and media personalities.
The breakfast is our main sponsorship event of the year, and helps us raise much needed funds to continue our work with young men in the Canberra community, through our free mentoring and counselling programs, and our Silence is Deadly campaign.
Too many young boys and men are getting unhealthy messages as they grow up – messages that they’re not good enough, that they can’t be loved, that material success is the only thing that matters, that they need to “be a man and toughen up”, that they need to hit first and ask questions later; taking out their frustration with anger and violence against those around them. These messages find their way into our suicide and crime statistics, drug use and our increasing rates of domestic violence – all issues when men – young men in particular – are dramatically over-represented.
Our job at Menslink is to change these messages, to give these young guys a message of hope and the skills and support they need to change their outlook and importantly their behaviour. At Menslink we believe that every young guy has a spark; the potential to have a positive impact on his family, his classmates, his workplace and his community. It’s our job to help the young guy to find it, to give him hope and to help him make better decisions; not just today but continuing into the future. Boosting his self-esteem and teaching him self-control so that he doesn’t lash out at others or even himself.
We were fortunate enough to have Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes speak to the room about his experience growing up in a violent and abusive environment and the effect that it had on the trajectory of his life. “I was self-destructive and destructive of everything around me because of my childhood, that highlights the work that people in this room are doing to help young men like me and their families to avoid a wrecking-ball life and all the grief and cost to the community that causes.”
The environment Jimmy grew up in has turned a suicidal boy into a very angry man who developed serious issues with substance abuse, landing him in rehab on more than one occasion. “I’ve been suicidal all my life. It’s been one of the longest suicide attempts in history, me trying to drink myself to death. This life destined me to hang on the end of a rope and that’s what we have to avoid for our kids. Quality time and decent advice can save a life and save so much more.”
Barnes spoke about the cathartic process he went through in writing his two books, Working Class Boy and Working Class Man. “There was a lot of stuff that not only had I not spoken to anyone about, but I’d also pushed to the back of my head and some things that I’d completely blocked because I didn’t want to remember. They were the things that had been killing me for 40 years.”
Perhaps the most profound thing Jimmy said to the crowd of people was “I thought for years that if you see a counsellor, you’re a lunatic. But that was the day I became truly courageous and my life changed.”
This where Menslink step into the lives of hundreds of young guys right across Canberra, reaching them wherever they are; at school, at home, in workplaces and in the community. Helping them get through tough times with the least amount of harm to themselves or those around them. This year we will directly support over nine hundred young men and their families, with a further two hundred and fifty young guys attending our PRIDE group sessions and over 10,000 young guys in our ‘Silence is Deadly’ program.
We give these young guys confidence, purpose and connection, all critical building blocks for their mental health and fitness. Building blocks they’ll use to stay at school, get a job and build a productive life in their communities; young men we can all be proud of.