Among the many millions of participants involved in this year’s Movember activities across the world, two Australian men from the same City, working under the same roof, have been helping to change the face of men’s health as global Ambassadors for the health promotion charity.
In fact the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities right across Australia is at the very heart of Charlie Jia and Nathan Appo’s personal and professional journeys, fulfilling various roles with the Brisbane-based Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).
The passionate pair join the likes of former Australian Test Cricket Captain, Michael Clarke, Aussie professional surfer Mick Fanning and Queensland cricketing great Andrew Symonds, who have all advocated on behalf of the Movember Foundation, an organisation that seeks to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as anxiety, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.
But for Charlie and Nathan they’ve been literally the ‘face’ or ‘mos among the bros’ in 2019, with their characters part of an international TV advertising campaign and their typical Movember likeness adorning global billboards, bus-backs and even subway locations across New York City.
“Nathan and I were invited to a photo and video shoot in London earlier this year which took place at the renowned Nomad Barber Shop in Shoreditch. It was pretty exciting just to be selected firstly and to do it alongside a fellow employee of IUIH made it all the more special,” confirmed Charlie.
“At IUIH we’ve consistently undertaken Movember activities, raising funds towards assisting the Movember Foundation to create greater awareness of health issues faced by our men in communities.
“Men’s health issues have been a big part of what I do at IUIH, having formulated the MomenTIM program which focuses on Tomorrow’s Indigenous Men (TIM), supporting young men aged 10 – 17 to understand mental health, improve their relationships and learn about self-care in a supportive group environment.
“With the focus on young men’s health issues, this caught the attention of the Movember Foundation, which has contributed significantly in helping IUIH deliver the program across Australian schools during the past few years.
“Our many and varied Movember activities at IUIH are supported by our Deadly Choices Ambassadors which provides a solid springboard to spread our health messages far and wide.”
Charlie’s Movember moniker for this year’s campaign is ‘The Grey One’, with his wirily whiskers acknowledging the indiscriminate nature of health issues facing all men, young and old.
“Three years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer so the underlying men’s health concerns that are dealt with during the Movember campaign are something very close to me,” added Charlie.
“Each year, more than 3,400 Australian men die from prostate cancer and the biggest thing with this disease is that you don’t get any symptoms.
“During a regular health check at my local Aboriginal Medical Service, I got a blood test done and doctors were able to pinpoint the problem. We were then able to move forward with successful treatment before it was too late.
“This year we did a ‘Move’ event at our Morayfield AMS clinic where we had our DC Ambassadors Steve Renouf, Petero Civoniceva, Brenton Bowen, Willie Tonga and Janice Blackman help to clock up 60 kilmetres on the treadmill and stationary bike, in recognition of the 60 men’s lives lost to related issues, every hour, of every day across the world.”
For Nathan the chance to contribute towards the international push for Movember was something he too was wholeheartedly invested in.
“I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the debilitating effects and consequences when men disregard personal health and become overcome with life’s pressures,” said Nathan.
“My own Dad struggled with anxiety and depression to a point where he had to be hospitalised during the past few years which is very confronting.
“I’ve also had mates and family pass away due to the mental issues they were dealing with. So it’s important to shine a light on these issues rather than sweep them under the carpet and have those individuals fend for themselves.
“Everyone has a responsibility to act and assist in these circumstances, even if it’s simply to put people in touch with the right support networks.”
As for having his face emblazoned worldwide as a part of the cause, Nathan takes it all in his stride, using humour and an uncanny sense of fun, to gain optimum cut-through in communities.
“Despite being given the opportunity to create our own personas, I was bestowed the honour of ‘The Furry One’ as part of the campaign. Multiple times I had my request for ‘The Oddly Sexy One’ denied by the Foundation,” Nathan quipped with a wry, hairy-lipped smile.
“A particular highlight for me has been the focus on Australia’s Indigenous men as part of this year’s campaign, an area not usually appropriately reflected in mainstream health campaigns.
“The work we do with IUIH and Deadly Choices allows us to shine a spotlight on our communities and work towards alleviating the barriers faced by individuals towards achieving optimum health. It’s these hardships in itself that lie at the root of underlying mental and physical health problems being experienced by all our men.
“The impact has been obvious at home and abroad, I’ve even had friends in New York who’ve sent in images of them in front of billboards and in subways where Charlie and I have been profiled.
“All these interactions through the campaign have provided a platform to start the conversation around what Movember is all about. Being a part of the worldwide campaign towards better health outcomes for all men is very satisfying.”
Ironically, the third Australian Movember Campaign Ambassador, Harvee Pene also lives and works in the Brisbane suburb of Windsor, with the trio collectively living by the Foundation ethos, “It doesn’t matter what you grow, you’ll save a bro” which has ensured a close-knit, communal feel, to a highly worthwhile and rewarding international initiative.
Fundraising efforts through the 2019 Deadly Choices Movember All-Stars campaign have once again raised close to $15,000.
Community members are reminded that the best way to counter any underlying health issues, or to simply keep in the best possible physical and emotional shape, it’s important to maintain regular health checks, and if you have any major concerns, visit your local, community-controlled Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS).
To donate to the Deadly Choices Movember team head to: Movember All Stars
For further information or to locate your nearest AMS go to Where To Get a Health Check.