While Gus Worland has no problem talking footy, barbeques and brews as a radio host on Triple M's The Grill Team, he also has no problem talking feelings, hopes and fears — and even shedding a tear or two — in front of anyone.
"I've always sort of worn my heart out on my sleeve and never really cared what anyone else thinks of me that way," Worland, 48, tells WHO. "My dad's a crier, my grandfather on my mum's side was a crier, so I suppose I've never seen that as a bad thing."
Yet in making the documentary series Man Up: One Bloke’s Mission to Save Aussie Men, which premieres Oct. 11 at 8.30 PM on ABC TV and ABC iView, Worland discovered that most blokes in Australia didn't have the same ease he had in expressing himself freely, and that's what may be driving them to early graves.
"The problem in this country is that we talk about suicide in a hushed voice and in the corner of a room," Worland says. "We don't have a proper discussion about it."
So Worland set out to start the conversation, seeking out experts and trying to find answers to why suicide takes the lives or more Australian men aged 18 to 44 every year than cancer, car crashes or heart disease.
"Gus was looking into the whole masculinity thing, asking where do our men come from," says Tom Harkin, a Melbourne-based workshop facilitator specialising in emotional agility. "A lot of the issues he was exploring were all the seeds planted with our young boys. He found himself thinking about his son and what kind of man Jack would grow into."
Worland, who in his documentary spent a night at a Lifeline call centre, visited a ranch in Western Australia, attended a nude men's yoga night and sailed with returning soldiers, learned that pressure for guys to conform to the 'He'll be all right' brand of masculinity had forced many to bottle their negative thoughts and emotions inside without seeking help.
"The pioneer type of Australian whom we all love so much, the Anzacs and that type, those people really did have very, very hard times," Worland says. "They did what they had to do to make the nation we have now. But in the world that is out there now, we don't have to be that old-fashioned stoic Australian anymore."
Says Harkin, "Gus is on this blokey-bloke show with two rugby players and beefed up gents and he's more than comfortable shedding a tear, hugging his son and telling him how much he loves him and the family. He's a great conduit for a message like this because then this isn't some New Age-y thing. This is just an everyday Aussie bloke saying, 'Guys, we need to get real and have real converations so it doesn't end in tears, pain and hurt."
Honouring the legacy of his mate Angus Roberts, who killed himself in 2006 at the age of 53, was the motivation Worland needed to make the series.
"His other TV shows have been more comedic and have made people laugh," says Worland's son Jack, 16, of series such as An Aussie Goes Barmy. "This one is a little more serious and out of his comfort zone. The issues he's addressing are pretty confronting and no one else has tried to do it before. I think it's been a good experience for him."
To read more about Gus Worland and Man Up, pick up this week's issue of WHO, currently on newsstands.
For help with depression, contact Lifeline: 131 114; lifeline.org.au.
You may also like...