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Engaging African-Australian men project: a scoping study

This project was made possible by the generosity of the Melbourne Catholic Archbishop’s Charitable Fund


Jesuit Social Services’ works to build a just society where all people can live to their full potential – by partnering with community to support those most in need and working to change policies, practices, ideas and values that perpetuate inequality, prejudice and exclusion.

We provide practical programs and advocacy across five main areas:

  1. Justice and crime prevention – for people involved with the criminal justice system (including the African Visitation and Mentoring Program)
  2. Mental health and wellbeing – for people with multiple and complex needs and those affected by trauma, suicide, and complex bereavement
  3. Settlement and community building – for recently arrived immigrants, refugees, displaced people and disadvantaged communities
  4. Education, training and employment – for people with barriers to sustainable employment (including the award winning African Australian Inclusion Program and the Victorian Police Diversity Recruitment Program).
  5. Gender and culture – providing leadership on the reduction of violence and other harmful behaviours prevalent among boys and men, and building new approaches to improve their wellbeing and keep families and communities safe.

Drawing on 40 years of experience working with boys and men, the Men’s Project was established in 2017 to provide leadership and to develop new approaches to reduce violence and other harmful behaviours prevalent among boys and men, to build new approaches to improve their wellbeing, and to keep families and communities safe.

The Engaging African-Australian Men Project (EAAMP) seeks to further explore the wellbeing of African-Australian men and to improve knowledge about how best to engage men from African-Australian communities on issues related to what it means to be a man. To do this we will use the concepts from our Man Box research, the Jesuit Social Services study on being a young man in Australia.

In addition to the long history Jesuit Social Services has working with migrant communities, the project is informed by the Victorian Government’s work with the African-Australian community in developing the Victorian African Communities Action Plan (VACAP), which identifies that there is a need to focus on:

  1. health and wellbeing – including mental health, family violence, young people at risk and strengthening families
  2. inclusion and empowerment – including gender and sexuality, people in the justice system, women and gender equality and child protection.

The VACAP resulted from extensive engagement from October 2016 to February 2018 with Victorians of African heritage. Many views were gathered during this time that supported its development – from over 10 community consultations, a community survey with over 70 respondents, and a public consultation period from November to December 2017 resulting in 34 submissions and feedback from over 300 people. Other sources, such as community papers, also informed the design of the plan. People across the Victorian Government and other interested parties, including local government and civil organisations, were also engaged. Further, many African Ministerial Working Group members and guest contributors joined at over 20 sessions to plan and draft the Action Plan.

The project will also be informed by the African Think Tank (ATT) post-conference report, which highlights the need to partner with African Australian communities in pro-actively formulating strategies and policies while addressing the root causes of issues, for example the youth disengagement and disempowerment crisis. The ATT involved over 20 selected “community voices” which informed over 45 policy recommendations to be considered for adoption and implementation.


The EEAMP Team proposes to undertake research with African-Australians who reside in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Brimbank, Casey and Wyndham, to explore attitudes and behaviours in relation to what it means to be a man and the potential of places/spaces/activities which may offer possible solutions.

Research Method

At least two focus groups will be held in each LGA – one for older men (age 25+ years) and one for younger men (age 18–25 years). These will obtain qualitative data. One-on-one interviews with key community leaders and representatives of the African Think Tank will also be undertaken and offer qualitative data. A questionnaire will also be used to ascertain attitudes and behaviours. One focus group may also be held in each LGA with African-Australian women’s groups. Participants will be compensated with a $50 Coles voucher. Please note that the focus group sessions will be recorded. Collected data will be safely secured physically and electronically and will only be accessible to authorised project team members.


The research will be undertaken in September 2019 – March 2020.

Intended outcome

To produce a report outlining what we heard from research participants with recommendations relating to the need for potential actions and new approaches/models as well as further research. Subject to funding, these new initiatives would have the potential to improve the health, wellbeing, and relationships of men from African communities and their families.

Please contact Elise Awudu, Project Officer, with any queries on 03 9421 7600 or elise.awudu@jss.org.au.

Fill out the Expression of Interest form to register your interest