Men Stuff

By RAMHP Coordinator, Matthew Milne


Last month I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a Tune Up For Fellas (TUFF) workshop in Dungog. Held over two days at Riverwood Downs and hosted by the DPI Rural Recovery Support Service, TUFF brought together 26 blokes from across NSW and provided an opportunity to take a break, meet some like-minded men and do “men stuff”.

What’s “men stuff” I hear you ask? Well, it’s actually not that different from anyone else’s stuff, really. Over those two days I saw men, who had only just met, open up and talk about some of the biggest challenges in their life, reflect on how they handled tough times and take stock of how they cope when things are hard. To be sure, I overheard plenty of yarns being spun, men laughing and having a joke but I also heard men being vulnerable, men checking on their mates, men having real conversations about how they are going and men being emotional in front of other men.

This might come as a shock to some but quite a few men became teary in those two days. Plenty of our conversations went deep and the response from the other men? Respect, support, a few more tears and empathy. Yes, empathy. Men listened, they reflected and heard another man’s pain without judgement and without trying to fix it. We did things other than talk. We learned about different communication strategies, looked at the things that are important to us using the life balance wheel and did some future planning and goal setting. We also had plenty of time for ourselves, some men choosing to wander the grounds of the property or swim in the river. We also had the local butcher from Stroud give us a lesson on sausage making with a bbq dinner to sample the wares.

My biggest take away from these few days is that men have the capacity to be vulnerable. A reminder that blokes can talk to complete strangers about things that are hard, things that scare us and things we want for the future. I saw it happening that week. So, I put this challenge to the men who read this. Talk to your mates, lead by example, open up when you’re doing it tough and encourage them to do the same. We don’t have to solve another man’s problems, sometimes we just have to listen. And if you get a chance to attend a TUFF workshop, I highly recommend it, I left feeling refreshed and focused with a new group of mates.

Oh, and I also learned that making and tying sausages is way harder than it looks!