About Us

Why We Exist

Many men are taught that they need have it all figured out and that emotions are a sign of weakness. They’ve learned to bury their feelings and deny their fears.


Whether it’s poor mental health, suicide or increasing rates of domestic violence, it’s clear that this narrative is no longer serving us. Our research suggests that four key factors appear to be driving this narrative.


These factors need to be addressed to transform the current state of masculinity in Australia:

Male Mental Health

Male Mental Health

1/5 boys are likely to experience depression before they are 18. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 25 and 75% of suicides are committed by men. Research suggests that this is perpetuated by outdated and ill-equipped systems men have in place for dealing with these challenges.

Gender Inequality (Men's Roles Specifically)

Gender Inequality (Men's Roles Specifically)

Gender inequality consistently predicts higher rates of violence against women. This is driven by violence against women being condoned, men’s control of decision making, rigid gender roles and stereotypical constructions of masculinity and femininity. Australia is ranked 35 out of 144 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index (2017).

Hyper-masculine Identity

Hyper-masculine Identity

“The Man Box” is a set of beliefs, communicated by society, parents, families, peers and the media that apply pressure to be a ‘real man’. These pressures tell men to be entirely self-sufficient, to act tough, to be physically attractive, to stick to rigid gender roles, to be heterosexual, to have sexual prowess and to use aggression to resolve conflicts.

Relationships & Connection

Relationships & Connection

Research by beyondblue shows that 1/2 of all males are not satisfied with the number of social connections they have and 1/3 are not satisfied with the quality of their relationships. Providing males with the tools to help them initiate a deeper level of conversation, especially across generations, including being able to talk about their problems and difficulties, should help to improve their satisfaction with the quality of their relationships.

Collectively, mental health and domestic violence costs the Australian
economy over $50bn per year. We believe it is time to invest in
preventative measures.

Our Philosophy

Our programs provide opportunities for young men, often for the first time in their lives:

To realise that their daily challenges are widely shared;

To redefine their experience of masculinity not as silence, isolation and indifference, but rather openness, vulnerability, trust and mutual responsibility;

To develop their emotional toolkit to powerfully deal with the challenges of life; and

To develop interpersonal skills that help them foster the important relationships they want and need.

We achieve this by creating emotionally-rich ‘male positive’ sharing environments, intentionally built to create trust, confidentiality and peer support. These environments are grounded in best practice and the latest research on positive psychology, social and emotional intelligence, personal identity, ‘masculinities’, mental health and youth work.

Research shows that such experiences build self-esteem, develop emotional and social intelligence, increase mental and physical wellbeing, build resilience and, ultimately, help our boys and young men lead a life of connection, purpose and positive impact.

Our parent/teacher/community workshops further strengthen the outcomes above by helping build a supportive community in which our boys can realise their full potential.

Our Approach

We are experts in youth-engagement strategies and facilitation

Our programs are tailored to suit each group’s specific outcomes

We combine evidence-based research with emotional connection

Our work is primary prevention and provide students with tangible skills

Our programs are co-designed with mental health experts and young people

We aim for long-term engagement and positive behaviour change

How The Man Cave Works

Our workshops create a safe space for courageous conversations that:

DECONSTRUCT

‘Traditionally’ held views of masculinity, the influence of mass media, the behaviour role-modelled around them, and the impacts of social pressures on identity, mental health and relationships.

CHALLENGE

The boys and young men to be actively present, to be vulnerable and real, to build authentic relationships, and positively impact the world around them.

REDEFINE

Their personal sense of self, of place and their abilities to make choices that positively impact their journey to lead a life of connection, purpose and positive impact.

The Man Cave Global Ltd (ABN 71 624 984 836) is a registered charity with the ACNC and endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

The Team

Hunter Johnson

CEO

Hunter is passionate about the audacity, brilliance and resilience of young people having facilitated programs with over 25,000 young people across Australia. With a diverse background in emotional intelligence, youth leadership and social entrepreneurship, Hunter’s work has led him to speak around the world including presenting at the United Nations, Government House, the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Town Hall, Graduation Ceremonies and various Universities. Hunter was named a 2018 Queen’s Young Leader by Her Majesty The Queen, Winner of the 2018 EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year (Southern Region), and Winner of the 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year Award by Third Sector Australia.

Joel Lazar

Head of Operations

Joel spent a few years honing his craft in commercial law at one of Australia’s leading law firms. Joel has lead a colourful and passionate life, including as an educational program designer, editor and project manager (Stand Up), a youth leader and facilitator (Hineni Youth & Welfare), a human rights law intern (ISHR, Geneva) and a script writer (Castan Centre for Human Rights Law).  In every societal endeavour, Joel cares foremost about two questions: What is our purpose? What is our impact? These questions continually guide his work at The Man Cave. In his spare time, Joel plays a fierce game of table tennis, writes obscure poetry, and is a regular cantor at his local synagogue.

Matt Defina

Head of Programs

Matt is a registered Psychologist, specialising in Organisational Psychology. This field has given Matt the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to create organisations and community environments that allow people to thrive. His research includes understanding the balance of gender attributes required to be an effective modern leader and how to reduce burnout and increase engagement in organisations. Matt has worked in change management at PwC, built and facilitated crisis simulations at Business Olympian and coached the next generation of young Victorian hockey players. Matt is constantly finding ways to push himself and has Scuba dived around the world, trekked to Mount Everest Base Camp, completed a 10 Day Vipassana meditation retreat and is currently training for an Ironman.

Doogie Chapman

Head of Communications

Doogie’s 20+ year career in communications has seen him win countless awards creating advertising campaigns for some of Australia’s best known and most loved brands. In fact, if you’ve ever seen an ad for ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Yellow Pages, Carlton & United Breweries or Australia Post, chances are you’ve seen his handiwork. His experience in the not-for-profit sector is no less extensive, having launched successful appeals for Movember, Save the Children and Australian Red Cross Blood Service. He’s now putting that experience to work at The Man Cave, seeking to improve mental health for the next generation, most especially for the three young children he has at home.

Al Green

Manager of Facilitator Development

Coming from a strong background in drama, Al values and focuses heavily on creative, experiential training to explore and understand the human condition. He honed his skills through 7 years at The Reach Foundation as a Facilitator, Trainer and Culture Leader, working with over 40,000 young people across Australia and creating and delivering hundreds of workshops. His experience also spans keynote presentations, MC’ing and facilitating workshops from graduate programs to CEOs in the corporate space exploring authentic leadership and positive organisational culture.

In his spare time, Al hosts a creative performance space in a blanket fort, is the 2012 Australasian champion of Wall Ball and has an ongoing interactive sound project focussed on lucid dreaming.

Katie McLeod

Programs Volunteer

Katie has an extensive background in retail and the realities of delivering outcomes that genuinely meet customer needs.

More recently Katie has applied those skills to the not-for-profit sector through her stakeholder engagement role at ShareGift Australia where she built strategic relationships with top ASX-listed companies and a number of major charities.

Katie is a mother of two teenage boys. Originating from a family of all girls, Katie experiences every day of motherhood as a revelation. As a parent, Katie has direct experience helping her boys navigate the complexities of high school and adolescence.

Katie is a curious seeker of new information, with a personal interest in global politics and global equity. She reads broadly and enjoys indulging in a good crime novel.

Daniel Tan

Senior HR Consultant

Dan is passionate about all things related to people and positive mental health. Specialising for over a decade in Workplace Relations, Dan began his career at the Fair Work Ombudsman where he enforced the correct pay and entitlements for vulnerable workers. Dan has since worked with a number of Australia’s largest companies where he has led performance, grievance and conduct management.

In his spare time, Dan is a keen traveller and has visited 32 countries and lived in 3 cities. One of his biggest achievements is surviving a trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Dan is the proud father to his fur baby, Rose, a rescue cat.

Facilitators

None of the work we do with boys and young men would be possible without our facilitators who come from a wide range of backgrounds including coaching, youth facilitation, psychology, consulting, journalism and the law. What unites them all is they are exemplary role models for boys and have a powerful ability to create safe spaces for boys to connect with themselves and others in order to become great men. All our facilitators undergo regular and rigorous facilitation training with some of Australia’s leading youth facilitation experts and have valid Working With Children Checks.

The Board

Michaela Healey

Michaela is a founder of the International Women’s Forum Australia, a member of Chief Executive Women and Vice President of Berry Street, Victoria’s leading provider of care and support for children who have experienced trauma or family difficulties. She was previously Group Executive, People Communications & Governance at the National Australia Bank Group, responsible for people, leadership, culture, corporate responsibility, government affairs, communications, legal and governance.

Michaela was also a founding director of ShareGift Australia, a not-for-profit that enables shareholders to convert their shares into cash for tax deductible donations to a charity of their choice, and an advocate in the establishment of the Big Issue Homes for Homes initiative. As a mother of a teenage son and a director of Berry Street, Michaela is aware of the pressures and challenges young men face and the importance of the development of skills to navigate life. After many years in board rooms Michaela now seeks to spend more time out in nature on her stand up paddle board or in her vegetable garden. Michaela is also an aspiring apiarist and yogi.

Ian Ward-Ambler

Ian contributes widely to the community, and carefully considers each role before accepting. Mission alignment for him is imperative but it’s also about ensuring he can make a contribution (and learn much in the process!) In addition to Chair and Board Director at The Man Cave, Ian is Deputy Chair, Voyages Indigenous Tourism (Ayers Rock Resort) and Chair, Mutitjulu Foundation; Trustee Director and Investment Committee member, CBA Group Superannuation Fund; Board member and Chair, Finance and Audit Committee at Trinity College; Council Member and Chair, Investment Management Committee at Melbourne Grammar School; Advisory Board Member, Indigenous Leadership, Excellence and Achievement Program (I-LEAP) at Melbourne University; and Director, Foundation Five Nine.

Ian is also an executive coach.

Ian spent much of his career in Finance, retiring in 2012 from Goldman Sachs, as Head of the Asset Management Division. He is the former Chair of Hands on Learning and former Vice Chair of ANROWS. Ian is a family man, married with four children. His passions include travel, golf and enjoying life to the fullest.