Wellbeing Project and Movember Men’s Health Interview

Geoff Evans, CEO interviews Maddi Moncrieff from Movember about the importance of the Wellbeing project and the important work that Movember are doing to improve men’s health around the world. 

Geoff – Good Morning Maddi. 

Maddi – Good Morning.  

Geoff – Thank you so much for joining us. Me in any case.  

So obviously, November is a very important month for veterans with the 11th being Remembrance Day. Many people don’t know that that’s the day we add new names to the Australian War Memorial. Lost well over 100,000 soldiers to war. Unfortunately, a lot more have given their health, which is why we reached out to Movember for assistance.  

We’re very proud to be partnering with you.  We think you’re leading the world in creating a better future for men in particular and your focus on veterans and emergency services is obviously very near and dear to our heart.  

Can you tell us a little bit about the Movember Foundation? 

Maddi – Yeah, absolutely, what a fitting time of year and special time of year to be putting those names on those memorials. I wasn’t aware of that, so that’s something I’ve learned today and how cool that there’s that synergy with Movember in terms of this time of year. And we’re a day away from that now. So, a pleasure to be speaking to you today and thank you.   

To let you know a little bit about Movember, I guess we can go from the beginning, which was back in 2019, I’m sorry, 2003, 19 years ago.  It started with humble beginnings, it was in a bar in Fitzroy that a couple of mates were chatting and had the idea of what happened to moustaches? Back in the 80’s they were quite popular and then they went off trend and they were thinking let’s grow some mo’s.  

So there was a group of about 30 of friends sort of growing moustaches when they weren’t really on trend anymore, just for a bit of fun really. And what happened throughout the month of that follicle growing on the upper lip, they realised that they were starting conversations and a lot of people were asking them: 

  • “Hey, what’s with the moustache?” 
  • “What are you growing there?” 
  • “What’s this all about?” 

So from there, they really realised the power of the Mo and then they wanted to attach some health causes to it.  

So it did start with prostate cancer and as the 19 years have gone on we’ve expanded to being a men’s health movement, not only supporting prostate cancer, but also testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention.  

It’s similar for you guys. This is such a special time of year for us, it’s what we call the hairy season. It’s where we see communities galvanizing behind the Mo, or setting their own move goals. There’s so many different ways you can get involved these days, and it’s such a special time of view for us where we just see people having fun, doing good, getting their communities together, so super excited to be joining you today at this special time. 

Geoff – I just love it Maddi.  If you can get people to have difficult conversations and a conversation starter as simple as a Mo. What a fantastic idea. 

Maddi – Yeah. 

Geoff – You guys do have a particular focus on veterans and emergency services, which as I said is very near and dear to our heart. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the other programs that you’re supporting and why you place that focus on veterans and emergency services? 

Maddi – Yeah, absolutely. I mean to start with the why.  We know that male veterans and 1st responders experience higher rates of poor mental health and suicide compared to the general male population. In fact, they’re actually 24% more at risk of death by suicide than the general Aussie male population. So we absolutely know that there is an absolute need here. Men who work in these areas, as well as women, are exposed to a variety of workplace stresses, as you can imagine organisational pressures and regular traumatic events. 

So Movember has identified this as an at risk group for poor mental health. So in 2019 we actually commissioned a report that indicated a lack of publicly available evidence showing the effectiveness of these programs, and that’s where we really want to play a role.  

So we’ve launched a mental health grant program for veterans and 1st responders in collaboration with the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride, which has funded 15 initiatives globally, both across Australia as well as New Zealand, the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland and Germany. So that’s sort of where the idea was born and that’s sort of where a lot of the funding is taking place at the moment. 

Geoff – Maddi you make a really critical point there about essentially providing an evidence base to different programs and, as you know, our partnership is about providing an evidence base to what DRA does.  

We know when we deploy veterans and emergency services into disaster zones to help others, they gain more than they give and they give everything. But without an evidence base to support it, it’s very difficult to validate the effectiveness of what we do. 

Could you just talk a little bit about supporting the evidence base and in particular why you chose to support DRA? 

Maddi – Yeah, absolutely.  

So DRA is delivering a volunteering program, as you mentioned. That is already really showing positive benefits for the wellbeing of this group. And what we’re supporting is the validation of these benefits. As you’re saying, providing that evidence to the guys that you were already looking at through this wellbeing project and the evidence collected through this project will be really useful to inform Movember globally about what’s working to improve the mental health of veterans and 1st responders as well, and what additional measures could be taken. For this reason, Movember is super excited to be partnering with DRA’s Wellbeing Project as part of our veterans and 1st Responders Mental Health Grant program. So thank you so much for the opportunity and to chat about it today. 

Geoff – Well, you’ve given us a once in a lifetime opportunity potentially to validate the work we do. We know anecdotally it works, but without an evidence based it’s very hard to move forward. So please allow me to thank you and thank Movember on behalf of DRA for supporting us and for supporting the partnership. 

Maddi – Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity and we’re absolutely more than happy to do it.