Australia – Dads on the Air – New Zealander Ben Easton – Tuesday 21st July 2009 2GLF 89.3FM and online

Dads on the Air |

Local Sydney Time: 10.30am to 12 midday Tuesday 21st July 2009
USA Eastern time: 8.30pm to 10pm Monday 20th July 2009
USA Pacific time: 5.30pm to 7pm Monday 20th July 2009
UK GMT time: 12.30am to 2am Monday night (Tuesday morning) 21th July 2009

Listen live on 2GLF 89.3FM in Sydney
or online via live streaming at
or in MP3 format at
or subscribe to our Podcast here



With special guests:

  • Neil Humphreys 
  • Benjamin Easton  and
  • Professor Robert  McLachlan

This week we range across a wide variety of subjects, talking first up with the ever lively author of a new book on becoming a dad, Be My Baby Neil Humphreys. From the cheery to the absurd, we then talk with Benjamin Easton, who is participating in a demonstration outside the Bank of New Zealand  protesting their outrageous portrayal of all men as bashers and all women as victims, clearly themselves the victims of domestic violence hysteria. Somewhere along the line they forgot that half their customers are male and most of them object to being portrayed as neanderthals. We close the show talking with Professor Robert I McLachlan, who is the director of Andrology Australia, a leading figure in men’s health in Australia.

But first up the fun: When Neil told his mother he was having his first baby, she suggested he should “write his usual bollocks” and turn the journey in to a daddy’s diary. Almost a year later, in November 2008, Be My Baby: On the Road to Fatherhood, was released in Singapore and across South-east Asia.will be launched in Australia in early 2009.

Being an eager first-time parent, Neil hit the bookstores and libraries and noticed that many of the titles were written from the mother’s perspective and he wasn’t having that. There’s always room on the bookshelf for a sentimental journey to fatherhood from a soppy first-time dad, he thought. There are tears, laughs and far too many trips to the toilet, but Neil insists that it is one journey that every man and woman should try and take at least once in their lifetime.

When two lines appear on the pregnancy test kit, Humphreys’ world was turned upside down. He was excited but clueless and urgently needed some direction. After all, his biggest responsibility to this point had been a pet hamster and he lost that twice.

From the moment his doctor tells him to book an obstetrician’s appointment, he knows he is out of his depth – he doesn’t know what an obstetrician is. Humphreys deals with parents who mock his sex drive, midwives who question his usefulness, friends who share only horrific birth stories, strangers who rub his wife’s belly and folks who seem to know everything there is to know about pregnancy – but often don’t have kids of their own. How will he deal with his parental insecurities? What’s the secret to being a decent dad? Will he drop his baby at the birth?

Both funny and poignant, Be My Baby is a frank account of Humphreys’ quest to be a good father.

And then we go live to talk to Benjamin Easton, who will be taking part as we talk with him, in a demonstration outside the Bank of New Zealand. He lost a court case against the bank claiming damages because of their discriminatory domestic violence advertisements, which portrayed all men as bashers.

In proceedings of July 7th, brought by the Bank of New Zealand against Wellington ’s Political Busker, Benjamin Easton, to strike out or dismiss Easton ’s proceedings against the Bank, the busker claims that the proceedings are far from insignificant and didn’t warrant the lack of recognition or interest by the country’s national media.

Easton argues: In what would appear to be inconsistent with the medias’ absence at the proceedings the Honourable Justice Randerson, Chief High Court Judge adjudicated over the proceedings. It seems unlikely that a proceeding involving one of New Zealand ’s largest banks pitted against an unemployed political busker could be seen by the Court as frivolous or vexatious if New Zealand ’s top High Court Justice is appointed to administrate over those proceedings. It seems even less likely that there is no merit in the proceedings where the Justice respectfully thanked Easton as well as the Bank for the submissions and has reserved his decision on whether or not to strike out Easton ’s action against the Bank.

The proceedings are about whether or not the Bank’s decision to fund an advertisement entitled New Zealand ’s Biggest Morning Tea in June 2008 was a decision against the public interest. The Bank argued that funding a television advertisement depicting European fathers assaulting children in a bid to gain funds for battered women, does not make them culpable with any possible act of discrimination against dads. Additionally the Bank argued that Easton had no standing to bring a judicial review against them on grounds of the Bank’s constitution and that regardless they made no mistake in facilitating the advertisement. Easton countered again saying that the Bank’s claim that the advertisement could be considered lawful cannot compete with the straight forward obligations with which the Bank is bound to comply.

“If the media had shown the courage to turn up to the proceedings”, says a deferent Easton “they would have identified on behalf of a truth starved public that the Bank has acted badly where blatantly not following their international commercial obligations in marketing. They would have shown the courage to prosecute a Bank in the court of public opinion rather than leaving the job to an unemployed and unknown political busker”. Easton philosophically claims his campaign is not over although it is obvious that the financial loss from whatever he has to give to the Bank each week will further inhibit a heavily restricted income.

“It is pretty mind numbing really”, concludes Easton, “that I’m the only one out there with enough courage to tell the public that the Bank has completely abrogated their public responsibility and the Bank is considered responsible, for that lack of public recognition to hit me for costs on a matter called principle.”

We close the show looking at the Director of Andrology Australia Professor Robert McLachlan’s proposal for a Longitudinal Study of men’s health, which they argue is a missing chapter in the story of Australian men’s health.

Australian population data indicate that men’s life expectancy and health outcomes, in terms of disease, injury and death, and health behaviours are significantly worse than for women. However, the reasons for these gender differences are not understood. The emergence of men’s issues as a specific aspect of health, medical care and disease prevention is relatively new in Australia. No evidence base to inform health and social policy in men’s health has yet emerged. This significantly limits the development and implementation of strategies to improve the health and quality of life of Australian men of all ages, racial, ethnic, geographical and socio-economic backgrounds.

Identifying the range of factors impacting on Men’s health is a necessary first step in building the evidence base to inform the development of suitable interventions and preventative strategies that would optimize the physical, social and emotional well being of men. Longitudinal studies tracking the life-course trajectories of a broadly representative group of individuals provide the best tool to obtain high quality evidence on the determinants of health and well being across the lifespan.

Such studies allow relationships between events, characteristics and subsequent outcomes to be identified and followed in unraveling how multiple factors determine key outcomes. Andrology Australia, Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Male Reproductive Health, proposes a landmark nationwide Men’s Health Australia Longitudinal Study to complement the Women’s Health Australia Longitudinal Study. There are several important reasons for this:

1. There are no Australian studies in Men’s Health that are national in scope or that include the full spectrum of adult men.

2. Middle-aged and older men have escalating health concerns and undergo significant life transitions. The recent Men in Australia Telephone Survey (MATES) demonstrated that many middle-aged and older men are affected by reproductive disorders, but the impact and interactions of reproductive health with other health and social factors is not understood.

3. Younger men are faced with many challenges as they mature to adulthood, move into the workforce and take on parental roles. Many of the health issues for these men could be preventable or controlled; however, these men generally pay very little attention to the health risks they face and inadvertently put themselves at risk. The full impact of lifestyle choices and social circumstance in younger men on their subsequent mid and older life health outcomes is yet to be determined but will be important for health service planning and preventative strategies.

4. No nationwide studies of male health have been conducted in any country. Furthermore, longitudinal studies from other countries have limited value to Australia with its unique geographical distribution of the population, ethnic diversity, social and family structures, policies and service provision, and climatic and environmental conditions.

5. This large-scale Men’s Health Australia Longitudinal Study will provide a core database and infrastructure, establishing a versatile platform for a range of research and a source of high quality evidence for many government bodies covering the range of health and social issues impacting on men. A nationwide longitudinal study investigating a broad range of Men’s health issues will be a world-first endeavor, placing Australia at the forefront of Men’s health research and policy development. Establishment of a Men’s Health Australia Longitudinal Study is expected to deliver benefits to government (federal, state and local), health professionals and the broader community through the application of research findings, and to researchers.

At a time when the burden of chronic and preventable illnesses and associated health costs are increasing, the proposed Men’s Health Australia Longitudinal Study represents an important opportunity to advance Men’s health in Australia and is an investment in health prevention in this country.


For more information about Dads on the Air, click here


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