Last updated: 17 Jul, 2020

Tips for digitising health promotion during coronavirus

Coronavirus has thrown many organisations into the deep end, having to learn how to use new technology to deliver their activities and maintain communication with their communities.

While delivering a sport or health promotion program online takes some preparation, you don’t have to do it alone. VicHealth has put together a series of fact sheets on digitisation, providing tips and information to help you adapt your programs.


Supporting boys and men to live healthier lives

Jesuit Social Services’ The Men’s Project is all about supporting boys and men to live respectful, accountable and fulfilling lives free from violence and other harmful behaviour.

By delivering programs in partnership with local councils, as well as with students and staff in schools, The Men’s Project aims to improve wellbeing, create respectful relationships and build safe communities.

VicHealth’s Masculinities and health framework and The Men’s Project’s Man Box research shows how outdated ideas about what it means to be a man can lead to problems with mental health, substance use and violence.

While the coronavirus pandemic has meant postponing work with younger students and those with less access to digital resources, work with older secondary students has been adapted to online delivery. Sessions focus on raising awareness of ‘Man Box attitudes’, emotional intelligence, healthy relationships, helping people to speak up if they see harassment happening to others and leading change.

“We’re pleased to be able to continue to support the communities we work with at this time and we’re curious about what works best online,” says Matt Tyler, Executive Director at The Men’s Project. “We’re working closely with our partners, including in regional areas, to make sure there are in-person supports available to back up online delivery.”


Engaging with young people online

Matt says there was a critical need for services to continue during coronavirus.

“There’s a huge need to work with secondary students online, in part, because of the challenges young people deal with every day, including relationship stress as well as mental health and wellbeing. These have been exacerbated by coronavirus.”

One positive result of changing to online delivery is more interaction with young people living in regional communities. While JSS has worked outside of metro Melbourne in the past, the increased use of digital tools during this period has made connecting with these communities easier.

These connections will continue to be beneficial, but there have also been challenges. Matt says the risks associated with online facilitation must be carefully managed and The Men’s Project is still working to understand what can be achieved using online delivery.

“All our programs are delivered by professionals trained and experienced in dealing with violence prevention, so we are highly geared to creating safe environments for students. While we’re confident that online delivery can build people’s awareness, relative to in-person delivery, we’re having to do shorter sessions. We’re still exploring whether attitudinal and behavioural change is achievable online.”


Interacting with workplaces

The Men’s Project has also been encouraged by workplaces who are expressing greater interest in playing an active role preventing and responding to family violence.

Matt says that, against the backdrop of coronavirus which has blurred home and work, more than ever, workplaces are understanding that family violence can affect anyone.

“We were pleased to recently partner with Elmo HR solutions who hosted a Webinar for over 250 HR professionals exploring what employers can do to best look after their staff and support safe workplaces now and into the future.”

The Webinar is available here.

On July 22, in partnership with VicHealth, The Men’s Project will be launching their Unpacking the Man Box report via a Webinar. For details or to register, click here.


Tips for delivering a health promotion program online

  1. Understand your audience to determine whether the learning would be suited to online modes.

  2. If your program is about respect and support, take advantage of lived experience and involve participants in your program design.

  3. If the topic is sensitive or triggering, use real-time individual or group sessions and monitor reactions.

  4. A program that aims for long-term engagement needs regular check-ins to maintain interaction.


Check out The Men’s Project.