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New book an insight into Indigenous men’s business

A groundbreaking study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s sexual and reproductive health findings by AIATSIS Indigenous Research Fellow Dr Michael Adams, Men’s Business: A Study into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health was recently published.

The research project, sponsored by Andrology Australia, revealed a silence around the sexual and reproductive health of Indigenous men.

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“The project was firstly to get information about sexual and reproductive health and sexual dysfunction, the other was to talk to Indigenous men about their lived experience in regards to some of the issues that they had and the knowledge that they have in that area.

“I was constantly told that nobody would talk to me about these issues. But over 300 men came forward, because I physically went out and talked to people. As they did the questionnaire, we talked about it and through it. That’s how I got the qualitative information from the people, the lived experience of sexual and reproductive health,” Dr Adams said.

“It was a two way process. If a person was suffering from the symptoms of prostate cancer, I’d be able to talk to them and they could tell the doctor they wanted this examined.

“We wanted men to feel comfortable to talk to doctors, we wanted doctors to be comfortable to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men about sexual and reproductive health. A lot of men were suffering in silence from this, but they weren’t telling anyone about it. They were not knowing how to describe it or what to look for.”

Suffering in silence

Dr Mick Adams

Dr Mick Adams

According to Dr Adams, 80 per cent of non-Aboriginal males as opposed to 10 per cent of Aboriginal males were likely to talk to their doctors and undergo examinations.

“Now that the research findings are being shared via doctors and community controlled health organisations, the word is getting out. More Aboriginal men are starting to feel comfortable about talking to their doctors about this now, which is directly related to the research.”

An important insight

AIATSIS Council member and Chair of Andrology Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Health Working Group, Associate Professor Mark Wenitong, wrote the foreword for Dr Adam’s book. He said that the book is unique and begs a response from health professionals and policy makers.

“It’s a narrative that describes one of those areas that have been completely silent and neglected in Australian health and health policy for decades.

“This research is the first of its kind, and offers an important insight into a very culturally sensitive aspect of men’s business,” said Associate Professor Wenitong.

“These insights will certainly help the medical sector when it comes to providing a culturally appropriate service.”

Men’s Business: A Study into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health, was launched at the Queensland University of Technology on 25 November. A range of supplementary educational material is available through Andrology Australia. This includes a DVD, ‘A lot of Aboriginal men sort of keep it to themselves‘ and a new Clinical Summary Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s specific health concerns.

Dr Adams is from the Yadhiagana/Wuthuti people of Cape York Peninsula, and the Gurindji people of Central Western Northern Territory. His research saw him gather data in a number of urban, rural and remote communities, primarily in the Northern Territory, Tiwi Islands and north and south Queensland.

For copies of the book, contact Dr Adams: michael.adams@aiatsis.gov.au.

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