AS we come to the end of another November [sorry, Movember], dozens of men across the Riverina recently become reacquainted with their own top lip.
Movember has been a brilliant promotion, encouraging men to look silly for a month for the sake of highlighting very serious men’s health concerns.
Primarily Movember tackles the reality that men do not like talking about health. It encourages a more open conversation about prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, and raises millions for research.
And men across the country have enthusiastically embraced – some, it must be said, somewhat too enthusiastically.
It has been a simple idea that has sparked a revolution, and if just one life has been saved then you would have to call it a success. But what now?
As the calendar turns over to December, the challenge is to keep those difficult conversations going. And in the longer term, the challenge will be to keep Movember as fresh and engaging as it currently is.
Australia has a proud history of successful public health promotions but they all seem to have a use-by date.
Red Nose Day. Genes For Jeans Day. Even Daffodil Day. All have been great successes, raising millions of dollars.
And while thousands of volunteers across the country are helping out every year to ensure their cause of choice gets its share of the limelight, it inevitably gets harder to to keep the idea fresh year in, year out.
But this is not how it should be.
Why has Australia effectively created a marketplace of causes, where one health initiative is pitted against the next for the fundraising dollar and a slice of the national consciousness?
The percentage of research funding for different types of cancer should not be determined by the relative success of an awareness campaign.
And volunteers from each of these organisations should not be made to feel like they must compete with each other for the next big idea to capture the public’s imagination.
The fact they are is a failure of government to adequately fund all health research according to need, not popularity.
Movember, Daffodil Day, Jeans For Genes and all the other days are great initiatives and a credit to those who organise them.
What a shame, though, that they’re needed at all.