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Walking towards a healthier community


By Watergardens Town Centre

Terry Charles is leading the Watergardens Walkers to better health and stronger relationships. The 51-year-old volunteer organises Watergardens’ weekly walking sessions around the centre, which will see strangers united by a shared goal of getting active and meeting new friends. A graduate of the Western Bulldog’s Sons of the West program, Terry sees leading group exercise as an important way to give back to the community. “It helps people out of depression and helps to change lifestyles,” he says. 

Terry has fought his own battles with depression. In 2014, he found himself overeating and rapidly gaining weight after losing his father. It was through joining the Sons of the West’s mental health and exercise sessions that he found the motivation to get off the couch. Terry has since remained in the organisation, stepping up to leadership roles. “My first year in the leadership role, a bloke told me about how he used to smoke 20-30 cigarettes a day, but since participating in the group, was down to four a day and about to give it all up,” he says. “The Sons of the West group has really helped create a positive lifestyle.”

Terry has always found community in sports. As a youngster, he was involved with the YMCA as a young leader, and in the early 2000s, was a FISAF national aerobics champ. Now, one of his many goals is to break the Heart Foundation’s Walking Group record of 65 participating members (currently held by the Highfield Hoofer’s Walking Group in Queensland). With 25 people signed up for the Watergardens Walkers debut walking session, the target is well in reach. “We can definitely do it!” he enthuses. “I feel very proud of myself to get out there. I’m doing this for myself and for the community.”

To learn more about the Watergardens Walkers program and to register click HERE

The Watergardens Walkers set off every Thursday night at 7pm. Meet at the Information Desk, located across from The Cupcake Queens.

Hawk hosts 'Man vs. Food'


Hobsons Bay City Council Sons of the West participants were met by Bulldogs legend, Doug Hawkins last week for the ‘Man vs. Food’ cooking master class at Newport Community Hub.

Together with Woolworths, the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation hosted an interactive session whereby participants could put their nutritional knowledge to practice and create quick and healthy meals in replace of those with low nutritional value.

As an avid supporter of Sons of the West since its inception in 2014, Hawkins expressed his passion for the men’s health program.

“Men's health is so important,” the 321-game men's health ambassador said.

“It's critical (that) blokes eat correctly and look after themselves because life is very, very short”.

With a focus placed on food preparation skills, food safety, and healthy meal choices, participants were encouraged to take control of their physical health while understanding the importance of a balanced diet.

As always, the session was followed by the weekly physical activity session, with men broken up into separate groups based on their fitness levels.

For more information about Victoria’s largest free men’s health program, head to

Drop weight, meet friends with SOTW


Sunbury man John Lilley has lost thirteen kilograms since Christmas thanks to the Club’s Sons of the West men’s health program, now in its fourth year of operation.

Lilley is one of fifty men who have signed up for the program since it was introduced to Sunbury for the first time this year.

Speaking to the Star Weekly, Lilley said that for him, the program was about more than weight loss, it also been good for building relationships in his local area.

“I like it because of the company,” he said.  “You meet friends.”

Lilley and some of his new friends have also formed a walking group; last week walking around Sunbury to raise money for the Heart Foundation.

Sons of the West will be part of a free tradie breakfast as part of Men’s Health Week at Bunnings Sunbury from 7.30-9am on Thursday, June 15, where men can pick up tips to live and work healthier.

For more information on Sons of the West, including dates and times, click here. 

Sons of the West - A beginner's guide


Sons of the West – A beginner’s guide

What is the ‘Sons of the West?’

Sons of the West is a FREE health program for men aged 18 and over living, working and recreating in Victoria’s west.

It consists of programs aimed to improve your mental health and physical health through a series of workshops, presentations, events and experiences.

The Sons of the West now runs three programs over the calendar year helping men across Victoria’s west improve their health.

The 2017 Premiership Season program starts on May 22, click here for session information and schedules for a location near you.


What is the ‘Premiership Season?’

The Sons of the West ‘Premiership Season’, formerly known as the ‘Main Program’, has been renamed to coincide with the Sons of the West establishing itself as a leader in men’s health. 

The ‘Premiership Season’ is the second Sons of the West program for the year and is run by the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation.  It is a 10-week program that helps men, learn about their health and wellbeing. Activities are held locally under the themes of Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Mental Health.

There are loads of giveaways and incentives including match day experiences, customised Sons of the West hoodies (a Sons of the West favourite!) and the chance to win signed merchandise from the Premiership winning Western Bulldogs.

Get together with your mates, get healthy and pick up some cool free stuff while you’re doing it.

It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Why Men’s Health?

The stats tell us that men out west are some of the unhealthiest in Victoria. We want to chip away at these numbers by raising awareness and helping men live better, eat better and get back into the game of life.

  • Males living in Maribyrnong have the lowest life expectancy in urban Victoria (76.5 years)
  • 9 per cent of Victorian males are overweight or obese - in Hobsons Bay this jumps to 50 per cent
  • Less than 1 in 5 Victorian men smoke - in Brimbank this jumps to 1 in 3
  • In Victoria 41 per cent of people report being involved in organised sport – in Wyndham only 30 per cent are involved in sport
  • 9 per cent of men living in Melton are classified as sedentary – almost double the Victorian average
  • 3 per cent of men within the Central Highlands of regional Victoria are obese
  • 4 per cent of Victorian males are obese; in Central Goldfields this jumps to 28.1 per cent


Who is it for?

Sons of the West is open to all men over the age of 18 who live, work or recreate in Victoria’s west.

The Western Bulldogs partner with local councils and community health centres within the municipalities of Ballarat, Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Sunbury and Wyndham. This year we are also proud to have Central Goldfields Shire rolling out the program in Maryborough.

The program caters for all levels of knowledge and fitness. The programs physical activity sessions are split into three groups of varying levels including ‘Getting Active, ‘Active’ and ‘Active Advanced’. We aim to make exercise fun, achievable and enjoyable – just the way it should be.


What happens in the Premiership Season?

So how does a session run? We’re glad you asked



Each session runs for 2 hours at 17 different sites.

Each week the first hour of the session will have an interactive presentation from experts in men’s health.

One week you will be hearing from cancer survivors, the next you will be making fresh healthy meals in an interactive cooking class. 

At Sons of the West, no two sessions are the same!


Physical Activity

During the second part of the session, we will put our knowledge to the test by getting out and you guessed it… being active!

The physical activity sessions cater for all levels of knowledge and fitness. The session is broken down into three different groups.

Getting Active

This group is for those guys who may not be familiar with physical activity. Maybe you’re just coming back from rehabilitation or an injury, or maybe you just haven’t been active in a while and want to dust off the runners.

This group is perfect for those who just want to get moving again with the support of our qualified staff.


This group is for the men who may have a base level fitness already, or for those guys who may have played a bit of sport back in the day. We will look at making physical activity fun again with plenty of variety and enjoyable activities. 

Active Advanced

This group is for those guys who are in good condition and really want to challenge themselves. Here you will really build up a sweat and get a good workout. Are you up to the challenge?

We all have good days and bad days, so please remember that at any time throughout the program you can move up and down within these groups. Your health is our priority.


How do I get involved?


All you have to do is turn up to a session.

There are now 17 locations over 8 different municipalities. Find your nearest or most convenient location under the Schedules section or head to for more info.  The ‘Premiership Season’ will commence in late May, 2017.

On the night, all you will need to do is fill out a basic registration and medical history form, once completed you will receive your free incentives and can proudly say that you are an official Sons of the West member.

Look out for our brand new Leaders this year! They will be wearing dark blue polos. These guys have graduated from three years of the Sons of the West program. They are there to improve the program, have a chat and make sure you’re getting the most of the Premiership Season.


Who is involved in the Program?

The Sons of the West is highly diverse, and is now one of the biggest men’s health programs in the world.

A range of highly qualified, experienced and passionate people make the program what it is today, including:

  • Council Coordinators
  • Community Health Centre employees
  • Accredited Exercise Physiologist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Community Partnerships
  • Podiatrists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Counsellors
  • Health Promotion and Public Health Specialists
  • Translators


The Sons of the West provides exciting student placements for our associated universities, including positions in:

  • Exercise Science
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Health Promotion
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Psychology
  • Community Development
  • Speech Pathology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


The placements provide hands on experience contributing to major changes in hundreds of men’s lives, while also providing career development opportunities.  


Attend Week 1:

Everyone will receive a FREE ‘Sons of the West’ Premiership Season t-shirt and a 2017 Premiership Season passport.

Recruit: A white t-shirt for those men attending their first ever Premiership Season program. You’ll also get a ‘Sons of the West’ water bottle and hat.

You are now an official ‘Sons of the West’ member. Welcome!

Graduate: A blue t-shirt for those men who are attending their second ‘Premiership Season’. Welcome back fellas!

Captain: A red t-shirt for the men who are attending their third and final year of the ‘Premiership Season’. You guys know the drill, this year we will have some exciting new instalments to the program.

Leadership Academy: You men have proudly graduated from the first instalment of the Sons of the West Leadership Academy! You guys will continue to make this program bigger and better.


If you have attended at least 7 sessions:

Receive a ‘Sons of the West’ 2017 Graduation hoodie which is a ‘Sons of the West’ favourite from 2016.

You will also get an exclusive invite to the ‘Sons of the West’ Graduation.


Sons of the West Graduation:

This night is a celebration for the men who have successfully completed the program. Family and friends will be invited to help celebrate the commitment you have shown to improving your health.

But remember, you need to attend at least 7 different sessions to be part of this fantastic night! So make sure you get your passport stamped each night.


Sons of the West Club Champion Award

This year the ‘Sons of the West’ program will again be recognising outstanding individual achievements within the program.

The recognised participants will have made a significant contribution within his team or the wider community, whilst demonstrating the ‘Sons of the West’ values and always going above and beyond.

This individual will receive a signed 2017 Sherrin Football from the Western Bulldogs.

For more information please contact (03) 9680 6499 or email

Sons of the West announce new partners


The Western Bulldogs Community Foundation’s Sons of the West men’s health program are proud to announce three new partners for the 2017 Premiership Season.

Golden Plains Shire Council, Maryborough District Health Service and Sunbury Community Health Service have partnered with Sons of the West to help promote health and prevent disease in men aged 18+ living in their local community.

Each of the new partners will run a Premiership Season program within their area.

Golden Plains will host their Premiership Season in Smythesdale, while Maryborough District Health service host their sessions in Maryborough.

Sunbury have recently completed the Preseason Program and are continuing their success into the Premiership Season.

This year’s Preseason Program saw over 600 men from Western Victoria participate in weekly sessions on physical education and a range of exercises.

Sons of the West Preseason is now complete, with the 10-week Premiership program kicking off in May.

Premiership Program timetables will be provided shortly.

Preseason over for Sons of the West


The Sons of the West preseason program is wrapping up for 2017.

This year’s program saw over 600 men from western Victoria participate in various workshops that covered potential barriers to exercise, mental health, nutrition, as well as musculoskeletal conditions (injuries) and exercise.

The final Preseason sessions will close by 13 April, with the 10-week Premiership program kicking off in May.

As a reward for their efforts, men who have attended at least six preseason sessions will be invited to attend the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation’s Inside the Club event, where they will hear from a panel of Western Bulldogs senior players and coaching staff.

To be a part of Australia’s biggest men’s health program, all you need to do is to turn up to any one of the below venues and you’re on your way to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Premiership Program timetables to be provided shortly.

Visit for more information.

City of Ballarat

Ballarat South Community Hub
Tuppen Drive, Sebastopol VIC 3356

Ken Kay Badminton Stadium
Dowling Street, Wendouree VIC 3355

Brimbank City Council

Deer Park
Sassella Park Hall
119 Station Road, Deer Park 3023

Delahey Community Centre
80 Copperfield Drive, Delahey 3037

Hobson's Bay City Council

Newport Community Hub
13 Mason St, Newport VIC 3015

Laverton Community Hub
95–105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 3028


Maribyrnong City Council

Braybrook Community Hub
107 -139 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook 3019

Footscray West
RecWest Footscray
Essex St and Market Street, West Footscray VIC 3012

City of Melton 

Caroline Springs
Taylors Hill Community Centre
121 Calder Park Drive, Taylors Hill 3037

Melton West
Arnolds Creek Community Centre
19 Claret Ash Boulevard, Melton West 3337

Wyndham City Council

Wyndham Vale
Werribee Masters Football Club
Wyndham Vale Reserve, 63 Honour Avenue, Wyndham Vale VIC 3024

Point Cook
Carranballac College (Boardwalk Campus)
Cnr Foxwood Drive, Dunnings Rd, Point Cook VIC 3030

Goonawarra Primary School
3-6 Gullane Drive, Sunbury VIC 3429

February return for SOTW


The Sons of the West men’s health program will be bigger and better than ever when it returns for its preseason program this year.

Now in seven councils and thirteen sites across Victoria’s west, the pre-season program kicks off in Sebastopol and Deer Park on Monday 13 February.

To be a part of Australia’s biggest men’s health initiative, all you need to do is to turn up to any one of the below venues and you’re on your way to a happier and healthier lifestyle.


2017 Sons of the West Men's Health Program Locations
City of Ballarat

Monday nights from 13 February to 10 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Ballarat South Community Hub
Tuppen Drive, Sebastopol VIC 3356


Wednesday nights from 15 February to 12 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Ken Kay Badminton Stadium
Dowling Street, Wendouree VIC 3355

Brimbank City Council

Deer Park
Monday nights from 13 February to 10 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Sassella Park Hall
119 Station Road, Deer Park 3023

Wednesday nights from 15 February to 12 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Delahey Community Centre
80 Copperfield Drive, Delahey 3037

Hobson's Bay City Council

Tuesday nights from 14 February to 11 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Newport Community Hub
13 Mason St, Newport VIC 3015

Thursday nights from 16 February to 13 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Laverton Community Hub
95–105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 3028


Maribyrnong City Council

Tuesday nights from 14 February to 11 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Braybrook Community Hub
107 -139 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook 3019

Footscray West
Wednesday nights from 15 February to 12 April, 7pm–8:30pm
RecWest Footscray
Essex St and Market Street, West Footscray VIC 3012

City of Melton 

Caroline Springs
Tuesday nights from 14 February to 11 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Taylors Hill Community Centre
121 Calder Park Drive, Taylors Hill 3037

Melton West
Thursday afternoons from 16 February to 13 April, 4:30pm–6:00pm
Arnolds Creek Community Centre
19 Claret Ash Boulevard, Melton West 3337


Thursday nights from 16 February to 13 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Arnolds Creek Community Centre
19 Claret Ash Boulevard, Melton West 3337


Wyndham City Council

Wyndham Vale
Tuesday nights from 14 February to 11 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Werribee Masters Football Club
Wyndham Vale Reserve, 63 Honour Avenue, Wyndham Vale VIC 3024

Point Cook
Wednesday nights from 15 February to 12 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Carranballac College (Boardwalk Campus)
Cnr Foxwood Drive, Dunnings Rd, Point Cook VIC 3030

Thursday nights from 16 February to 13 April, 7pm–8:30pm
Goonawarra Primary School
3-6 Gullane Drive, Sunbury VIC 3429


SOTW Community Week


The Sons of the West men’s health program is back for 2017 and it will kick off with the Sons of the West Community Week on January 30.

In partnership with Watergardens Town Centre, Australia’s biggest men’s health program will be bringing a week of entertainment and fun to Melbourne’s West, beginning with a panel discussion and a screening of the Sons of the West documentary on day one.

The week is a great opportunity for both men and women to learn about ways to keep healthy and active, all while enjoying a range of free activities, events and exclusive retailer offers.

The festivities wrap up with a presentation from award winning chef and SOTW ambassador Shane Delia, and the chance to meet Western Bulldogs legend Doug Hawkins on Community Family Day on Saturday, 4 February.

For a full schedule of events click here.

SOTW expands into Sunbury


The Western Bulldogs Sons of the West men’s health program will make a move into Sunbury for the first time in 2017.

Sons of the West will work with Sunbury Community Health to kick-start the program, which commences with the pre-season program on 13 February. Sunbury Community Health is a not-for-profit community health organisation, providing a range of services that respond to the needs of Sunbury and its surrounding communities.

Returning for its fourth year in 2017, Sons of the West has supported men living and working in Victoria’s west. The program aims to promote health and prevent disease in men aged 18 and over through a series of workshops, activities and information sessions.

The innovative, free health program aims to engage men across the west in simple, healthy activities aimed at boosting their health and wellbeing.

In its first two years the program focused solely on Melbourne’s western suburbs but extended to Ballarat in 2016 and now to Sunbury in 2017 – with the Bulldogs committed to expanding their community beyond Melbourne’s west to include Ballarat and western Victoria. 

Check back here to early 2017 for more information, dates, venues and times.

Preseason partner announced


The Western Bulldogs men’s health program Sons of the West will partner with Watergardens Town Centre for its 2017 pre-season program.

Introduced in 2016, the pre-season program encourages Sons of the West participants to focus on their physical health and fitness in the lead up to the main program.

While all aspects of men’s health is a focus during the Sons of the West program, the pre-season will provide participants with a great understanding of the importance of incorporating physical exercise into their lives.

Kicking off in February 2017, Watergardens Town Centre will join Sons of the West for a series of key events, with further details to be communicated in January.

Men’s health program wraps up for 2016


The Sons of the West men’s health program is wrapping up for another year this week as 500 men will be presented with their graduation hoodie at ceremonies across Melbourne’s west.

Last Wednesday saw 90 men graduate at Victoria University Whitten Oval, with a final even in Melton tonight for a further 150.

The free men’s health program expanded in a big way in its third year going from five sites to 12, including Ballarat for the first time, and included The Locker Room, separate sessions dedicated to mental health.

Western Bulldogs acting CEO Michael Quinn said the Club was delighted with the way that men have embraced the program.

“It gives men of the west a friendly, open and inclusive forum to learn more about their health and wellbeing, Quinn said.

“We hope our participants will graduate with knowledge and skills they can apply to their everyday lives.”

52-year-old Frank Vella graduated for the first time in 2016 won the Club Champion award last night for outstanding individual achievement in the program.   

Speaking with, Vella admitted feeling anxious on his first night, but couldn’t have been happier with the welcoming environment.

“First night I thought ‘this is great,’” he said.

“Sometimes you get a whole bunch of blokes in a room and everyone is cliquey - they stay in their own groups but it wasn’t like that.

“Everybody was really welcoming, very interested in where you came from and what you did.”

Vella said that he thought the reason was that everyone was there for the same reason.

“Internally they may have different reasons, some may have come to lose weight, others for medical type things, or the health side of things, but I think it’s all for being able to be part of a team and help each other out.

“Even when we’re doing simple exercises it’s all about the teamwork and helping each other out.  It’s all about asking your mate if he’s ok and just being more aware and offering a helping hand.”

The Sons of the West Leadership Academy will be open for applications later in Sons of the West will return in 2017.

500 men to graduate from SOTW


Never wear another teams colours.

It’s something we’re taught from an early age, especially in Melbourne where football is nothing if not tribal.

But for Frank Vella, a lifelong Magpie, who’ll receive a Western Bulldogs hoodie for graduating the 2016 men’s health program on Wednesday, he’ll be proudly sporting the red, white and blue of the Dogs in honour of what he and his fellow participants have achieved over the past couple of months.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve done, and I’m really proud of achieving it, Vella told during a photo shoot for local newspapers.

“I’m just rapt to be part of the program, just for what it can do for people. 

“I’m fortunate, I don’t feel like I’ve got any major issues but there are blokes out there that do have, and just by being here is getting them to the doctors or getting them to talk to people, getting them to talk to health professionals.”

Of the 800 men who took part this year, over 500 will graduate the program in ceremonies across Melbourne’s West, as well as Ballarat.   That is up from 230 last year and 90 in year one.

Vella said one of the keys to the programs’ success  was creating a space where men could go and feel comfortable being themselves. 

Whether they wanted to exercise, whether they wanted to talk through some problems, or just wanted to meet a few people, Sons of the West has created that environment.

“There’s a lot of blokes that I’ve spoken to who said that they enjoy the company of other blokes, he said.

“A lot of guys don’t spend time with other men as they get older, and I think that’s important.

“I’ve found that just by walking around and talking to people, it’s an opportunity to open up about things they don’t want to talk to their workmates about because it might be a bit personal.   

“Just the other day I was talking to a guy about the a marriage break up.  He just wanted to vent. 

“As blokes we tend to keep things in but everybody here makes you feel so part of the group. That you don’t mind opening up, someone to listen to, you know.”

This is Vella’s first year in the program, having joined after watching the positive impact it had on his great mate, Jonathan Manallack over the past two years, and he wants to return the favour to other men next year.

“The goal is to continue with the program, bring more people in and hopefully contribute in some other way. 

“A goal for next year is to bring ten people.”

Sons of the West will be back in 2017.

A Sons of the West Q&A


Maribyrnong City Council are one of six councils who have partnered with the Western Bulldogs to run our innovative Sons of the West men's heatlh program.

Below is an interview with participant Jonathan Manallack about his experience in the program that orginally appeared on


Q: Tell us about your experience of the Sons of the West (SOTW) program – what can participants expect?

A: Men who come along can expect a really supportive and friendly environment with a group of men all there for the same reason – because they all want to do something positive about their health! You attend weekly interactive workshops delivered by a range of informative and inspirational speakers talking about things like portion sizes of meals, calories in each food and the required daily exercise levels to maintain or improve fitness.  You then follow that up with an exercise session that you do at whatever level you are comfortable with.  The information from the workshops gives us the tools to then go home and work on these things during the week.

Q: Tell us about attending the sessions at the Braybrook or West Footscray location. What do you love about this neighbourhood and its people?

A: I attend the West Footscray sessions and I love it. Firstly, because it’s only a 10 minute walk from my house so I get in the extra exercise before and after by walking there. Secondly it’s at the Whitten Oval and we actually get to train on the oval and use the Bulldogs facilities.  During the pre season program earlier this year, I feel we developed into a real team and everyone was supportive of each other.  Having a Coach for each session was great and Aiden (our facilitator) really made each session informative and left us with something to work on for the following week. It also gave the program a sense of direction each week and we looked forward to the next week’s session. Having it at West Footscray is great as its central and close to public transport and the area is such a diverse community and that is reflected in the men who come along each week.

Q: What has been the most important and most valuable thing you have walked away with in the Sons of West experience?

A: The most important thing is that we all have to start somewhere and often we as men don’t know where to find that help or are to proud to ask for it. Through the Sons of the West men’s health program, it is all laid out for us in weekly sessions aimed at helping our overall health. Not only are we learning to take control of our health, but we’re also making mates along the way. It really feels like a team and that makes coming each week much easier. And even better, its free!  We as men tend to neglect our health a bit for many reasons, and for some of us it’s not knowing where to start. The Sons of the West men’s health program is that place. It doesn’t matter if you are there to lose weight or just for the exercise sessions, some blokes come along just for the company and that’s great too. They will learn new things or even remember things they had forgotten and are able to put it into practice at home, so it’s a win all round.

 Without a doubt this program is helping make many men’s lives better, and I applaud the Western Bulldogs and Council for having the vision to run a program like this for free to the men of the western suburbs.  Sons of the West is not only helping me learn alongside men in my situation, but it’s actually saving my life.  Since the day I walked into the Bulldogs ground two years ago I’ve not only dropped weight, I have gotten fitter and my medication has been reduced due to that, and I am really enjoying life again.

Q: The Sons of the West program has been running for three years and you have taken part in the last two years. You are a seasoned pro! Tell us about the benefits, both social and physical, of the program classes?

A; This time three years ago I was walking the bare minimum, just to walk my dog 750 meters to the dog park and back about every second day. Now I am walking each day for around an hour. I leave the car at home and walk to the shops, and I also go to the gym three days a week.  Physically it’s still a struggle because of some health issues that I have, but I know I just have to do it each day. After the exercise I feel tired, but I know it’s benefitting my health and in my head I know I have done a good thing and it makes me feel good about myself.

When you exercise, whether it be the gym or just out walking, you see people and those contacts and engagements lighten your mood. It’s the same as when you come along to the weekly session. You see people in the same SOTW t-shirt as you and you get to know these men and have a chat and a laugh. It’s a social thing, something to look forward to.  It also has made me feel better about myself as I am doing more socially and physically. I can’t tell people enough about it, and I hope many more men join and see what changes it can make to your life.

Becoming a ‘better me'


A couple of weeks ago, three generations of the Hoy family went to see the Western Bulldogs take on the West Coast Eagles.

The tickets had come as part of an incentive to take part in the Sons of the West preseason program, and it was the first time the three of them had ever gone to see a game of football together.

But for Michael Hoy, taking part in the Sons of the West program has always been about much more than free tickets.  Hoy was one of the original participants, having joined up in 2014 on the back of a testicular cancer scare and having put on a lot of weight.

Speaking to at the time, Hoy said his family were ‘really proud’ that he had decided to do something about his health.

Two years later, he is cancer-free and one of the ‘red shirts’.  Hoy and his fellow original participants were presented with red SOTW shirts to symbolise their commitment and their leadership, and he said he couldn’t be prouder to wear it.

“The red shirt means a lot to me and I'm very proud to wear it to the weekly information sessions and the fitness classes," he said.

“I feel a better 'me' when I wear the Sons of the West shirt, kind of like the players feel wearing the jumper I guess.

“The red shirt is a visual that I - and the others wearing it - were the originals, and are back because we enjoy it and benefit from it.

“We're a face that new guys can come to ask what the program is about, what we've learnt, etc.”

He still dusts off the orginal white tee every now and then, esepcialy when he is umpiring his daughters’ Wyndhamvale Youth Girls footy team. 

“We usually wear a white bib for the role but the team manager said I could wear the shirt as is given it's white," he said.

While Michael himself has lost weight and is now cancer free, his next goal is even bigger -  signing up his Dad up for 2017.

It all starts in June!


The Sons of the West men’s health program will be bigger and better than ever when it returns in June this year, expanding to twelve separate sites across Melbourne’s West, including Ballarat for the first time.

Sons of the West is a 10-week program  that aims to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of men in the Bulldogs’ heartland through a series of interactive workshops, a range of guest presenters, events and experiences.

Activities are run under the themes of healthy eating, physical activity and mental health, and if that’s not enough, the program is packed with loads of giveaways and incentives including match day experiences, customised Sons of the West hoodie and signed Western Bulldogs merchandise.

*How do you get involved? Easy! All you have to do is turn up to a session.

There are 12 locations over the six different program councils in Melton, Wyndham, Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay, Brimbank City Council and Ballarat.

2015 program graduate Jonathan Manallack of West Footscray said that he can’t wait to get going again in June.

“I am really pumped about the program starting again soon, he said.

“I still have a few goals to tick off and being back there again weekly with the rest of SOTW team is going to be great.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing our mates again and welcoming many new faces as well.  

“Bring it on!”  

2016 will be the highly successful program’s third year in operation, with the City of Ballarat  partnering with the program for the first time.





Every Monday night from 6 June to 8 August, 7pm-9pm

Deer Park – Sassella Park Hall, 119 Station Road, Deer Park 3023

Sebastopol Ballarat South Community Hub, Tuppen Drive, Sebastopol VIC 3356


Every Tuesday night from 7 June to 9 August, 7pm-9pm

Williamstown – Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club, Cnr Esplanade and Victoria Street, Williamstown 3016

Caroline Springs – Taylors Hill Community Centre, 121 Calder Park Drive, Taylors Hill 3037

Braybrook – Braybrook Community Hub, 107–139 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook 3019

Wendouree – Yuille Park Community College, Violet Grove, Wendouree VIC 3355


Every Tuesday night from 7 June to 9 August, 7pm–8pm

Werribee – Werribee Bowls Club, 239 Watton Street, Werribee 3030  (guest speaker only)


Every Wednesday night from 8 June to 10 August, 7pm-9pm

Delahey – Delahey Community Centre, 80 Copperfield Drive, Delahey 3037

Footscray West, Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, Footscray West 3012


Every Wednesday night from 8 June to 10 August, 7pm–8pm

Werribee – Eagle Stadium, 35 Ballan Road, Werribee 3030 (fitness session only)


Every Thursday night from 9 June to 11 August,7pm-9pm

Melton – Arnolds Creek Community Centre, 19 Claret Ash Boulevard, Melton West 3337

Laverton – Laverton Community Hub, 95–105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 3028


Every Thursday night from 9 June to 11 August, 7pm–8pm

Tarneit – Penrose Promenade Community Centre, 83 Penrose Promenade, Tarneit 3029 (guest speaker only)

Where there's a Will, there's a way


Paul Bowman would rarely leave his room.

Unemployed and reeling from the loss of his mother Paul found himself on a downward spiral where just interacting with his flatmates was becoming difficult.

“Because of my depression I get stuck in my room a lot, I don’t associate with my flatmates as much as I should,” Bowman said.

“It is tough because it is one big circle, you don’t’ have a job so you feel worthless. 

“You feel worthless so you don’t eat right, you don’t associate with people, your self-confidence drops and it’s really, really tough. “

The only thing that would brighten up his day was his regular trip to Victoria University Whitten Oval to watch the Western Bulldogs train, and it was here that he struck up a conversation with Will Minson.

Paul got speaking to the ruckman during the Bulldogs Family Day in March about his battle with depression and Minson urged him to join the Club’s men’s health program, Sons of the West.

“I love my footy and I met up with Will on the Family Day, and that’s where he asked me to join Sons of the West, Paul said.

“I brought it up with him because I suffer depression and diabetes issues, and how it’s affected me over the last ten years.

“I lost my mum just over a year ago which has caused my depression to deteriorate.  

“So I spoke to Will about it and he introduced me to (Program Manager) David, and we took it from there.”

Since joining the program, Paul says that although there is a long way to go, he says things have improved a lot thanks to Sons of the West.

“The exercise has definitely helped because at the end I felt like I achieved something.  

“It pushed my happiness up a lot.

I’ve had a lot of downs, and the downs hurt because you really start doubting yourself and your worthiness and self-confidence, but when you do have a good time it picks you up.

“There’s a long way to go, but the early steps… I’m loving it.  I urged anyone who’s thinking about it to do it.”

Paul says that the fact that he feels so welcome is what brings him back each week, but there’s also another motivation: to make Will proud.

“I owe everything to Will. 

“I’m determined to make Will as proud of me as I can, so I’ll do everything in my power to keep coming back and keep improving.”

The next round of the program will begin in early June, if you’re interested in find out more, join our mailing list here.



For too long, prostate cancer has been a silent killer of our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, sons and friends.

While one in five Australian men will be diagnosed with the disease, even more will go undetected before it is too late to intervene.

“Almost 3500 men die of prostate cancer each year in Australia,” urologist and one of the world’s leading prostate specialists Professor Tony Costello, AM, said.

The AFL has supported the Breast Cancer Network Australia and the Pink Lady Match, which has done a brilliant job highlighting the importance of awareness and raising funds to tackle this disease.

And now Professor Costello and his team at the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre are keen to use a similar model to promote the plight of men in our community.

It will start in this round with the top of the table North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs match being promoted as #clash4prostate to help raise awareness and funds.

“Aside from the Ted Whitten Legends Game, this is the first time we’ve been able link with the AFL on the most important cancer for men and we’re incredibly grateful to North Melbourne for partnering with us, as well as the Western Bulldogs and AFL for their support,” Professor Costello said.

Former Bulldogs captain, Luke Darcy, who turned 40 last year recalls fondly the legend that was former Bulldog premiership hero, Ted Whitten who tragically died of prostate cancer in 1995, aged 62.

“My first job at the club was driving the great EJ Whitten around, who had played with my dad, and what a great initiation into Melbourne with Mr Football himself.

“To think he could still be here with a simple test, it’s just a tragedy. I’m now at the age where I need to get checked and I urge every man 40 and over to do the same.”

For more information on the work of the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre

Footy, food and fitness


Sixty men of varying ages sit in one of the auditoriums in the Western Bulldogs Footscray training facility. They’re all wearing white t-shirts with Western Bulldogs Sons of the West branding, shorts and trainers. They’re all sitting erect, listening intently to the coach talk about ‘eating right and how eating affects your exercise regime’.

“Make small changes to your weekly meals, don’t try to implement everything you learn here, all at once,” says Sons of the West coach, Aidan March.

Aidan goes on to talk about typical foods the men may be eating and asks them how many calories they think are in each food. “My favourite treat-meal is BBQ chicken pizza. But guess how many kilojoules are in a standard BBQ chicken pizza? 7005 kJ!” Aidan introduces the idea of food credits and treat meals that could be used once a month. If you’ve eaten under your standard 8700kj a day throughout the month, bank those credits for a time that you can have a blowout and have a treat-meal like the BBQ chicken pizza.

Aidan asks, and the men shout out their favourite foods. Aidan shouts back the kilojoules. Big Mac – 5000kj, a 600ml bottle of coke – 1080kj, a VB stubbie – 650kj, premix cans of alcohol – 1050kj. It’s a simple yet effective approach. The men in the room are engaged and relaxed. They yell out funny comments and witty quips, and everyone laughs.

The talking part of the program is over, and it’s time to hit the oval. The crowd split into several groups of varying levels of fitness. Some of the men have done the program before and are really pushing themselves through sprint sessions. Others are learning to use the boxing gloves and pairing up with coaches and occupational therapists. Some of the new guys are doing walking laps around the oval, and others are doing push-ups off the fence.

Two people participating in the preliminary 10 week Sons of the West program are annecto David House attendees, Chris and Brenton. “We have a lot of men in the 40s and 50s attending weekly programs at annecto David House, and they could use some help in improving their physical health,” explains Helen Kowalyk, Community Inclusion Coordinator at annecto David House.

With the focus for older people and people living with disability usually being on essentials, many forget to look after their health. Sons of the West gives people permission to take some time to look after themselves, and improve their health, especially older men.

Fourth year Occupational Therapist student, Andrew Mizzi, is currently on clinical placement with the Western Bulldogs Men’s Health program, Sons of the West. “My role is to facilitate some of the men to engage more fully in the program,” explains Andrew.

Andrew has spent a lot of time with Chris focussing on his social interactions and enhancing his performance outcomes. “In the first session Chris seemed uncomfortable and spent a lot of time on his phone. The difference between that first session and Chris’ involvement now, six weeks in, is remarkable,” explains Andrew.

This article orginally appeared on

Buddy up with Sons of the West


Liam McEwen enjoys meeting people. 

He has three grown-up children, two new grandsons, a wife, and has recently retired from a job he held for 32 years, with Scope.

But one could say he digs a little deeper than most when meeting someone for the first time.  “When you look into a person’s eyes, you can see the person. They’re just like you or I.  You don’t see the disability, or homelessness or someone from a dysfunctional family; you just see a person, someone who needs love and friendship,” explains Liam. 

A fit and healthy man, Liam does most things in moderation.  Last year Liam’s brother wanted to improve his health, and Liam signed up with him to the Western Bulldog’s Sons of the West program.  "From the moment you walk in the door, you can tell the group are really supportive,” explains Liam.  With a combination of regular meetings with speakers educating the group about fitness and nutrition, and online modules to complete, Sons of the West is a program that educates, empowers and replaces bad habits with good ones. 

This year Liam has committed to being a buddy to Chris and Brendan, who attends annecto David House, and help the men improve their health and fitness through the Sons of the West program.  “I’ve seen people grow in confidence when you’ve helped them to do something that they couldn’t do before,” explains Liam. “All anyone needs is a bit of support, and they can achieve.”

annecto are looking for more men like Liam, who can buddy with a person, pick their buddy up, drive them to one of the local weekly meetings, assist them to follow and complete the Sons of the West program, and act as a support when the going gets tough.

“We’ve got a lot of men in their 40s and 50s who attend programs at annecto David House who could use some help improving their physical health,” explains Helen Kowalyk, Community Inclusion Coordinator at annecto David House. 

“The priority for many people with a disability, older people, and carers is to focus on the essentials and not take the time to look after health.  This program is excellent in that it gives people permission to take some time to look after themselves, particularly older men,” said Helen.

A free program open to all men, Sons of the West run sessions in Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Wyndham City, Hobsons Bay and Melton.  Participants learn what’s good for them and what’s not, how to gradually increase their exercise levels, cook healthy meals, and are supported to achieve their goals. 

One thousand men completed the program in its first year of operation in 2014.  Last year Sons of the West saw this number more than double, with 2100 men successfully completing the program in 2015.  This year is the third year of operation and the pre-season started on the 23 February. 

The pre-season is a new addition to the program and consists of 10 weeks of low-level exercise, to get participants ready for the main 2016 program that starts in June 2016.

If you are interested in buddying with someone to support them through the 2016 Sons of the West program, that starts in June, you have a current driver’s license and can dedicate two hours a week to attend a meeting, please contact Helen Kowalyk at annecto David House or phone Helen on 03 9314 0988.


Sons of the West is BACK!


Sons of the West will return in 2016 for the third year running, beginning with the launch of a preseason exercise campaign right across the West in February.  

The FREE ten week campaign will focus on light physical exercise and is open to all men ahead of the beginning of the main program that’ll kick off in June.

Sign up is easy - just attend any one of the below local sessons and you're in.


Every Tuesday night from 23 February to 26 April, 7pm–8:30pm



Braybrook Community Hub, 107–139 Churchill Avenue, Braybrook 3019


Caroline Springs

Taylors Hill Community Centre, 121 Calder Park Drive, Taylors Hill 3037


Deer Park

Sassella Park Hall, 119 Station Road, Deer Park 3032



Werribee Bowls Club, 239 Watton St, Werribee 3030



Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club, Cnr Esplanade and Victoria Street, Williamstown 3016



Every Wednesday night from 24 February to 27 April, 7pm–8:30pm



Delahey Community Centre, 80 Copperfield Dr, Delahey 3037


Footscray West

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, Footscray West 3012



Every Thursday night from 25 February to 28 April, 7pm–8:30pm



Laverton Community Hub, 95–105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 3028



Bridge Road Children’s and Community Centre, 260–266 Bridge Road, Melton South 3338



Contact Details


Maribyrnong City Council (general)

Council telephone contact: (+613) 9688 0200

Are You Deaf, Speech or Hearing Impaired? Contact Council through the National Relay Service using one of the following methods. Once you are connected ask for 03 9688 0200.133677 for TTY users 1300 555 727 for Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech) for Internet Relay users


Wyndham City Council

Council telephone contact: (+613) 9742 0777


Hobsons Bay City Council

Council telephone contact: (+613) 9932 1000.


Melton City Council

Council telephone contact: (+613) 9747 7200


Brimbank City Council

Council telephone contact: (+613) 9249 4000


NEW Sons of the West Documentary


It’s been almost a year in the making, and now it’s here.

Make the Rest of your Life, the Best of your Life isn’t a standard documentary.  The short film is a deeply personal reflection of one man’s Sons of the West experience, and Jonathan Manallack was brave enough to take us along with him on his journey.

At the beginning of the 2015 program, he set up video camera in his home, and would regularly sit down and record his experiences, both good and bad;  he allowed us to follow him to the weekly sessions in Footscray with a camera, and to his regular catch ups with SOTW ambassador Tony Liberatore, who acted as a mentor.

Jonathan has laid out his life, his challenges, his wins and his losses for all to see.  When we spoke to him about doing this earlier in the year, we didn’t know what the result  would be, and nor did he. 

There was always a possibility that he may not made it to the end of the program, or not achieved the goals he had set for himself, so what you’ll see is unfolding in real time.

It’s raw, it’s emotional, and it's inspiring.

CLICK here to watch.

Get Back into the Game of LIFE! with Diabetes Victoria


If you are overweight and over 45 you may be at risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Men, in particular, are more likely to develop these chronic diseases because more men are overweight or obese compared with women.

The good news is that you can take action now. Being active, maintaining a healthy weight and eating balanced meals are just some of the important lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.

Changing your lifestyle isn't easy, especially on your own. The Life! Helping you prevent diabetes, heart disease and stroke program gives you the motivation and support you need to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The first step is to understand your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Take the online risk test here.

If you score 12 or more and live in Victoria, call 13 74 75 and find out if you are eligible for the Life! program. Depending on your availability and commitments, you can choose from a group-based course or a one-on-one telephone health coaching service.

The Life! program is the largest prevention program in Australia and since 2008 over 40,000 Victorians have joined the program. Call 13 RISK (7475) or visit to learn more.

But don't take our word for it:

“We blokes look after our cars but we ignore our bodies. I was floundering for a while trying to do it on my own but now it’s a wonderful feeling to know I’m on the right track. Everything’s improved. I wake up feeling brighter in the morning. You know, bushy tailed!”

Richard, Life! program participant

“I’ve lost two-and-a-half stone (15.8kg), which I am very happy about. Physically I feel really good. I drive and operate a lot of heavy machinery as part of my job, and now I find that I can move around a lot easier. I feel good about myself, too, and I’m very pleased with what I’ve done. I’d certainly recommend it [the Life! program] to other people – in fact, I’ve just recommended it to my accountant.”

Alan, Life! program participant

“Psychologically you’re on a journey and you have to prepare yourself for times when your motivation drops. Both my Life! coach and the other members of my group were very supportive in that respect, but you also have to support yourself. So I concentrated on looking after myself on a daily basis – if you do that, the future looks after itself. It’s about conditioning over a period of time, forming new habits and discarding old ones.

Robert, Life! program participant

The rest of your life starts today.

5 Steps to Good Heart Health


Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia. Every day, 98 men will have a heart attack, and 1 in 7 of these will die. The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable, and the foods you eat can have a huge impact on the health of your heart.

Preventing heart disease isn’t the only positive of a healthy diet – eating well will fuel your body with the right energy and allow you to perform at your best.

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be restrictive or boring. The Heart Foundation has the following tips to help prevent heart disease:

  • Reduce Your Salt Intake: Most Australians don’t realise that 75% of the salt in our diets comes from everyday packaged foods like cheese, processed meats, and canned products. Look out for ‘low/reduced salt’ or ‘no added salt’ varieties of these – or even better, go for fresh, unprocessed foods wherever possible! You can also try using herbs and spices instead of salt when cooking.


  • Swap our Fats: Swapping unhealthy saturated fats for healthier mono and polyunsaturated fats can help prevent heart disease. This can be as simple as swapping the oils you cook with. Look for plant based oils like canola, olive, or sunflower oils (but be careful of some plant oils – coconut and palm oil are very high in saturated fat). Look for oils that have less than 21.7g/100g of saturated fat and less than 1.1g/100g trans fat. Healthy fats are also found in foods like nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocado.


  • Eat Plenty of Fruit and Veg: Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – which can help protect the heart from damage. They also contain fibre and are usually low in kilojoules, so can help you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for 5 serves of veggies and 2 serves of fruit every day


  • Watch Your Portion Size: Portion sizes have been growing over the years, both at home and when eating out, so people have become confused about what a normal sized meal should look like. As a general rule, half your plate should be made up of veggies, ¼ should be protein (meat, fish or alternatives), and ¼ should be starch (pasta, grains, or vegetables like potatoes). A good way to decrease your portion size is to use a smaller plate or bowl.


Eating a healthy, balanced diet means there is no food group you need to completely cut out. Try to eat as many fresh, unprocessed foods as possible – this is the easiest way to make sure you aren’t eating too much salt, saturated fat or kilojoules.

It’s not about depriving yourself or crash dieting – it’s about leading a healthy lifestyle to decrease your risk of heart disease and feeling better now and in the future.

For recipes or more information on healthy eating, check out the Heart Foundation website or  

You can also call our Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87

Small Steps, Big Gains


Douglas-John-Ramm is a burden on his family. At least, that’s what he thinks.

The 43 year old father of five is a long term sufferer of depression and anxiety, is battling Sleep Apnoea and sustained an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) that resulted in a long term hospital stay in October 2011.

“From the day I came home and I was able to think about it, I felt like I was a burden to my family because I now rely on them,” he said.

“I’m not, so they keep telling me, but the simple fact that I can’t go out and earn a dollar to put food on the table and buy them that little bit extra at Xmas and birthdays… it cuts deep sometimes.”

His wife of 18 years, Karen, is also battling her own health issues, but is hopeful she can return to work soon to help put some money on the table. But the prospect makes DJ uneasy.

“If she can get back to work that’ll be good for her but I don’t know how I will go. I’m a 43 year old man but I still need an adult around because I still panic at home.”

DJ is a friendly and likeable bloke but is uncomfortable in social situations. Breaking down that barrier is a big part of why the Sons of the West program has been so beneficial for him over the past two years.

“Last year when there was an ad (for SOTW), I think in the local papers – Karen saw it and suggested I go. I was keen to go. At that stage in my life I didn’t want to do anything – it’s still very hard for me to get out. I really don’t like crowds. I tolerate it because I need to get myself out.”

And get out he has. He talks about looking forward to going to the sessions each week, and you get the sense he hasn’t looked forward to an outing in a long time.

“I might be 43 but I act like a kid sometimes.. As a 15 year old I remember getting excited about things and I feel the same now, you know,” he says.  

“I get to go there; I get to see the guys, Stuart and Michelle, and whoever else. Just the routine – the routine as well. I need that.”

An underestimated benefit of the Sons of the West program is the social inclusion that comes with regularly attending the weekly sessions. Some men are unemployed, some are retired and some men have just fallen into bad habits and needed to get out of the house every now and then.

DJ ticks a couple of these boxes but with social isolation often comes physical health issues and in this area he’s starting to see some results and he feels good about the progress he is making.

‘When I came in this year, all of my figures from the end of last year to the beginning of this year were down. The blood pressure was down and that meant a lot to me.

“I knew that I had lost weight but actually seeing it, seeing it written down was great. I’m not looking for big steps but I’m seeing that routine is turning into habit, habit is turning into a better lifestyle and it’s all entwined with the goals I have set for myself.

“Hopefully at some point I get a little bit skinnier but most importantly, I hope by joining this program I might live a little bit longer.”

Bulldogs Join in the Fun at Toyota Family Day


Led by ambassadors Doug Hawkins and Tony Liberatore, the Sons of the West team were invited to be a part of ‘Ekiden’, Toyota’s Family Fun Day in Altona North yesterday.

While the SOTW health and wellbeing tent was offering free health checks and chance to register an interest in the 2016 program, the undisputed highlights of the day were a cooking demonstration led by SOTW dietician Vanessa Korfiatis (ably supported by The Hawk) and a push up competition where 49 year old Brownlow Medallist Tony Liberatore saw off all challengers.

The Western Bulldogs inflatable road show kept the kids busy all day and popular club mascots ‘The Pack’ posed for almost as many photos as Hawk and Libba. Almost.

Running since 2005, the annual event is based on a traditional Japanese running race, however in Australia Toyota have shaped it into a family fun sports and a career day.

The Bulldogs’ contingent were joined by representatives of beyondblue, Heart Foundation, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Diabetes VicWestern Private Hospital and the Cancer Council.

Stop by our Facebook page for pics and videos.

Williamstown Men's Health Forum


Sons of the West was the star attraction at a men’s health forum hosted by State Member for Williamstown, Wade Noonan, in Williamstown last night.

Almost 100 men packed out the Williamstown Sailing Club to hear SOTW ambassador Tony Liberatore talk about the impact the program has had on men in Melbourne’s West and how men in the Hobsons Bay area can get on board in 2016.

The Brownlow Medallist’s message to the men in the room was a simple one:

“Your issues are important to us and the Western Bulldogs are here to help.”

“We invite you to embrace this opportunity to take a step forward and make meaningful changes in your life. And feel good about the journey ahead, we’re all in this together.”

Libba was joined on stage by Jason Cranage, 2015 graduate founder of The D.O.N.S (Dads of Newport and Surrounds), who talked about his own experience in the program and his motivation for joining.

Western Bulldogs CEO David Stevenson also spoke about what the Sons of the West program means to the club and encouraged men to consider signing up in the new year.

“This program at its core is that the Bulldogs are all about. We are about people, we are about community,” Stevenson said.

“This program is slowly changing the culture of men in the West by breaking down that stigma around men and their health and we’d love all of the men in this room to be a part of it next year and beyond.”

Men interested in being a part of the 2016 program can register their interest here.

Cover Up this Grand Final Weekend


It's grand final weekend, we've got a publc holiday and it's going to be sunny. Real sunny.  At least by Melbourne's standards anyway, and SunSmart want you to keep a few thngs in mind.

Between May and August, the average UV in Victoria is 1 or 2. At these levels, UV isn’t strong enough to damage your skin, unless you’re near highly reflective surfaces, such as snow, or outdoors for extended periods. During these months you should aim for at least 20 minutes of sun exposure around midday to give your vitamin D levels a boost.

But between September and April, UV levels are regularly 3 or higher. That means the UV is at a level that can cause premature ageing, eye damage and skin damage that could lead to skin cancer.

So how can you enjoy the spring sunshine safely, without overexposing our skin to UV?

Check the UV Index

The rule of thumb is that you’ll need sun protection whenever the UV Index hits 3 or higher. The daily UV Index is available via the free SunSmart app, the widget at the SunSmart website or at The weather section of major Victorian newspapers will also tell you the times of day you will need sun protection. Remember, UV levels will usually be at their highest around midday.

Use sun protection

When the UV Index is 3 or higher…

  • Slip on clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Look for long-sleeves and collars.


  • Slop on sunscreen that is at least SPF30 or higher, broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Top up your application every two hours.


  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your neck and ears, as well as your face.


  • Seek It could be as simple as choosing to walk under shaded shopfronts as you walk along the street or bringing a shade tent if you’re at a park or beach.


  • Slide on sunglasses that are lens category 2, 3 or 4. These categories will ensure the sunglasses actually provide UV protection for your eyes.


Using one of the five steps by itself isn’t enough to protect your skin – the more steps you use, the better protected you’ll be!

Avoid tanning

Tanning is your skin cells in trauma. It means you’ve already been overexposed to UV and your cells are trying to adapt to the damage by producing melanin. Many people mistakenly believe that having a tan protects their skin against sunburn and UV damage. In fact, a tan offers minimal protection against sunburn (equivalent to about SPF3). Avoid tanning and you’ll avoid UV damage.

For more information on UV and sun protection visit

Courtesy of SunSmart.


An EJ for EJ


How would you like to get your hands on a beautiful 1963 EJ Holden Special Sedan with all proceeds going to the EJ Whitten Foundation?

“An EJ for EJ” is a joint project between the EJ Whitten Foundation and Resto My Ride who have restored this unique piece of footy memorabilia in just 9 weeks to be auctioned off at the EJ Whitten Grand Final Luncheon THIS Wednesday, September 30.

Special features that make it one of a kind are a titanium signature of Ted Whitten as a customised car badge.

The EJ Holden’s original colours also happen to be Blue, White and Red, and if that’s not Bulldog enough for you, the restoration has been overseen over the last two and a bit months by Sons of the West ambassador Doug Hawkins as well as footy legends Sam Newman, Billy Brownless, Sam Kekovich and Dipper.

Need more specs? Read on:

Car Specifications


The car and engine have undergone an entire rebuild and has been restored back to original.

Original 138 Grey motor, 6 cylinder inline engine and suspension has been fully restored and re-built. Value $5000

Full New interior with original material sourced for new fit out including roof lining, seats, door trims and carpet. Value $10,000

Car was stripped back to bare metal by sand blasting and all rust has been removed – Value $5000

Replacement panels and custom fabricated parts have been fitted.

All replacement parts, panels, fittings and mould provided by Rare Spares Valued at over $20,000

Car has been painted in original colours, Tully Blue and Ivory white – Valued at $10,000

All chrome parts have been chromed and restored. Valued at $5000

New tyres and accessories fitted to the car. – Valued at $5,000

Over 3000 labour hours have gone in to the build and over $90,000 worth of products and consumables have been used to restore the car back to its original condition.

Click here for more info and if you can’t make it on the day of the auction but still want to bid for the car, contact Sam as below.   0481 357 079

99% Fat Free? Sugar Free? Sorting Fact from Fiction with Diabetes Victoria


A quick internet search for information about diet and diabetes turns up a huge list of sensational dietary claims. Turn on the news and you are likely to hear a report on the latest diet study that is producing ‘miraculous’ results.

A recent Australian study showed that the most preferred and trusted sources of nutrition information were dietitians, nutritionists, and GPs. Despite this, people most often got their nutrition information from other sources - the internet, friends and family, and magazines.

How do you sort through all these messages to find sources of information that are reliable and accurate? Until we have internet search engines that can sort results by quality or credibility, it’s up to you to spot the misinformation.

Below are a few tips to help you find accurate and reliable nutrition information.


Check the source

The first step is to identify who is providing the information.

Consider who owns the website or has published the book – what is their purpose, and who is their funding source? Next, look at the author of the content – what are their qualifications and experience? Do they have any connections to certain products? Are they trying to sell you something?

Funding from a food company or offering products for sale does not necessarily mean that the information provided is unreliable, but it is important to be on the lookout for any possible bias.


What evidence do they provide?

When looking for nutrition information you want it to be current and backed up by good evidence.

Always check the date of the information provided. Evidence can change as new studies are done, so the more recent the information the better. If a website does not provide a date for their content, this is a warning that they may not review their information regularly.

Avoid relying on opinion and those reporting only on personal experiences – while this can be interesting, it does not mean that it will work for you. Look to see if they have provided any references to back up their claims – this might be written references to scientific journal articles, or it might be links to the source on other websites.


Do they provide a balanced view?

A well-balanced article should discuss the pros and cons of adopting whatever approach they are promoting. It should also state if the advice they are giving is not suitable for certain people.

Be wary of sources that do not acknowledge any potential downsides to their approach. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!


Where to start

A good starting point when looking for quality nutrition information is to consult known reputable sources. Look for websites that are from government or educational institutions – these will have web addresses ending in .gov or .edu. You can also start with professional nutrition organisations, such as the Dietitians Association of Australia and Nutrition Australia.

If you are unsure about information that you have found, consult a second source to see if it backs up the information. Talk to your diabetes health care team – they will be able to help you decide if it is relevant and suitable for you.

For more information about healthy eating and diabetes, you can speak with a dietitian when you call the Diabetes Helpline on 1300 136 588.


Courtesy of Kim Duggan-Larkin, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Diabetes Victoria

How to Avoid the Lobster Look


It's tricky. Some days you don't notice that you're getting burnt until it's far too late. You look in the mirror and realise that your nose could rival Rudolph's, your cheeks are more than rosy and your parting is bright red and already starting to peel.

On a summer day the temptation to strip off and hit the beach or the pool is irresistible. It's so easy to use sun protection, but not correctly, or not enough, and you end up burnt.

Here are some tips from SunSmart to help you avoid the lobster look this summer:

  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and reapply at least every two hours.
  • Always reapply after swimming or sports, even if it's water resistant.
  • Use broad spectrum, water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen. That's a lot of jargon! So, SPF stand for sun protection factor and in lab conditions SPF30+ sunscreen filters around 97% of UV (or ultraviolet) radiation. Broad spectrum means it protects you from both UVA and UVB radiation - UVA radiation causes wrinkles blotchiness, sagging and roughness and contributes to skin cancer, while UVB penetrates the top layer of skin and is the main cause of skin damage and skin cancer.
  • Use lots of sunscreen. If you don't you'll not be getting the SPF that it says on the bottle. For a medium sized person ( for example someone that is 65kg and 165cm tall) you should use half a teaspoon on each arm, your face and your neck, and over one teaspoon on each leg, the front of your body and your back - this totally up to about 35 ml per application! If you are a bigger frame you will need more.
  • Check the expiry date. Did you know that sunscreen goes off? Most sunscreens last two or three years but they need to be stored at a temp below 30°C. If sunscreen is left in the hot glovebox of your car all summer it may not work as well.
  • Pick for purpose not by price. Price isn't always an indication of quality, so select sunscreen based on what activity you'll be doing. It can come in many different forms such as cream, lotion, milk, spray or gel.
  • Not all sunscreens are the same; they have very different ingredients. Not all people are the same, some with very different sensitivities. Find one that works for you. If you've got allergies chat to a chemist or doctor and they can help you find something suitable.


But you should never just use sunscreen, remember to...

  • Seek shade - shade can block out 75% of a person direct exposure to UV.
  • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible such as collared shirts and three-quarter-length trousers and tops if you're out in the sun.
  • Put on a hat, ideally one with a wide brim that will protect your face, head, neck and ears. Caps provide very little protection.
  • Grab your sunnies. Everyone looks cool in sunglasses, FACT. Just make sure that they meet the Australian Standards.
  • Check the UV each day before you go out online at or on your iPhone using the free SunSmart app. At this time of year, UV Index levels are likely to be high even on mild or cloudy days, so use the alert daily to check the times of the day that you need to slip, slop, slap, seek, slide.
  • If you are wondering about vitamin D. This time of the year most people should be able to maintain vitamin D by getting just a few minutes a day on their face, arms and hands (or an equivalent area of skin) of sun but keep it to when the UV is not at its peak (either side of 10 am to 3 pm). People with naturally very dark skin may need three to six times this exposure.


For more information about UV, skin cancer and vitamin D, check out the SunSmart website.

Courtesy of SunSmart.

Get Behind Bowel Screening


Are you aged over 50? You are at increased risk of developing the most common cancer affecting both men and women in Australia – bowel cancer – but there’s something you can do about it.

Bowel cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age from 50 and has no visible symptoms in its early stages. Luckily, detecting bowel cancer early increases your chances of successful treatment and long-term survival.

Who is at risk?

Men and women aged over 50 are at increased risk of bowel cancer. Some people may be at a greater risk of developing bowel cancer, including those with:

  • A previous history of polyps in the bowel or bowel cancer.
  • A strong family history of bowel cancer.
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (eg. Crohn’s disease).
  • Increased insulin levels or type 2 diabetes.

People who are at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer should discuss this with their doctor.


Many lifestyle risk factors contribute to bowel cancer.

You can reduce your risk:

  • Get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per day.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid processed and burnt meat. Limit red meat intake to three to four times per week.
  • Avoid or limit your alcohol intake.
  • Quit smoking.


Test for bowel cancer from the comfort of your own throne

Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, contact your doctor.

Where can I get reliable information?

Cancer Council 13 11 20 - information and support for you and your family for the cost of a local call anywhere in Australia or the website at

Offseason Survival Pack: Part Two


It’s August, it’s Melbourne and it’s bloody cold out so what better way to spend your time than to get into the kitchen and cook up a treat for the family.
Part two of the ultimate Offseason Survival Pack is focused on diet because as we know, you can exercise until you’re blue in the face (don’t do that), but if you’re shoveling the wrong foods into your mouth you’re wasting your time.
Developed and designed by master chef Shane Delia and Brownlow Medalist Tony Liberatore, the TWO BALD BULLDOGS online cooking series is about demonstrating how small changes to your diet can make a big difference down the track. 
Love a steak?  How about a stir fry?  What should you be having for breakfast that will keep you full but won’t turn into a spare tire around your waist?
The boys will show you all of this and more:
Episode 1: Steak
Episode 2: Fish
Episode 3: Chicken
Episode 4: Breakfast Omelette
Episode 5: Pasta
Short clips, recipe print outs and never again will you have to feel guilty about what’s on your plate.
Bon Appétit, gentleman!

Offseason Survival Pack: Part One


It might be the Sons of the West offseason but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and let all of the hard work you’ve put in this year go to waste.

We know it’s cold, we know it’s been a bit wet and the last thing you feel like doing is getting out and exercising but that’s exactly what you should be doing.

So, to make things easier we've put together an Offseason Survival Pack to keep you going until we start up again in the not too distant future.

Developed and designed by resident fitness expert and former Bulldog, Steven Kretiuk, the Rise and Grind series are a set of easy to follow exercises that you can do at home, in the park or wherever is convenient.    
Check'em out:
Episode 1: Legs and Glutes
Episode 2:  Upper Body
Episode 3: Dumbbells or Bricks
Episode 4: Core
Episode 5: Full Body Circuit
The videos target different areas of the body and if you’re really pressed for time, the fifth episode is a one stop shop.   The videos also come equipped with an info sheet you can print off and stick in your pocket so you don’t have to carry your iPad around.

Do these regularly and you’ll have a beach ready rig in no time.


"We'll Look After You"


Michael O’Donnell hadn’t had a drink since the mid-eighties, and for good reason. 

His wife, Brenda, said that had he continued drinking the way he was their marriage would have ended 30 years ago.

“I said I wasn’t going to put up with it,” she said.  

“I couldn’t live like that anymore, it was too much.  He was a nasty drunk. “

30 years later, now in his seventies and battling prostate cancer, Michael was on the brink.  Brenda had fallen seriously ill one evening and he had to rush his wife of 48 years into the Royal Melbourne. 

It was the final straw.

“I got back home and I was lost.  I was alone and I just didn’t know where to turn," he said.

"I rang Beyond Blue.  I rang a friend of ours who was in mental health but couldn’t get in touch with her.  I rang Carers Victoria to see if I could get somebody out to talk to me, and I couldn’t.   

“And that’s when I opened up the fridge and got a bottle of wine out.” 

A visiting friend happened to come to the door and caught him just in time.  The bottle ended up down the sink, “we had a bit of a talk and I thought I was alright.”

He wasn’t. Not only was Brenda’s prognosis grim, his own health had deteriorated markedly around the same time.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2000, he had been receiving steady treatment until it was discovered the lymph nodes on his groin had dramatically increased in size.

His first “blast”, as he calls it, of chemotherapy was on Monday, 5 June.

The morning after the close call with the bottle, he kept an appointment to have a routine x-ray on his left knee at Werribee Mercy Hospital – the remnants of an old injury from his days playing for Oak Park under 17s.

“As I was walking out the hospital, there was an office there and I saw Harp (Hospital Admission Risk program).  I walked in there and I asked if I could speak to somebody regarding mental health.  They said, ‘who’s?’ And I said mine. “

“A lady named Bernadette came out and sat down alongside me.  She said, ‘what’s the problem’, and I don’t think I got three words out.  I just started crying. “

The decision to ask for help that day was the first step in getting himself well enough mentally to handle the battle that he and his wife are now facing.

It was also the first time he’d heard of the Western Bulldogs’ men’s health program, Sons of the West.

“I had a couple of sessions with Bernadette and one day she came in and said to me, ‘have you ever heard of Sons of the West?’  I said, no.  She said, there’s a men’s group – I’ve been in touch with them and they have a thing of a Wednesday night in Werribee but, if you go along this Saturday, you’ll be able to sign up. Which I did.”

He’s a tough old bloke but he can’t help but get a little emotional when he talks about what the program has done for him in a short period of time.

“It was an incredible feeling to all of the sudden to have this network of support.  I felt pretty lonely with Brenda being so ill – running in and out of hospital,” he said.

“It’s just been a success story, really.  I really enjoy the company, the stories… It’s the best thing I’ve done in ages.”

When asked what may have happened to him had SOTW not come along he pauses for a long time. When he finally answers, his voice almost breaks.

“I hate to think.  I really do because if I had of hit the piss again… the mind boggles.  Brenda probably would have left me because she wasn’t going to put up with it anymore,” he said.

“I was just teetering on the edge and thank Christ I didn’t go over.”

To say Michael’s had a tough life is an understatement but his enthusiasm for the journey is back and he’s got a strong message for men who are thinking of signing up to SOTW:

“No maybe, get off your ass and go.  For the benefits that come out of it - the mateship, the camaraderie.”

“But mainly, my message is you’re not alone in the world.   Come down, we’ll look after you.”

Sons of the West Saved My Life


Although he’d been there countless times over the years to watch his beloved Bulldogs, 45 year old Jonathan Manallack approached Victoria University Whitten Oval full of trepidation.

It’s May 17, 2014 and the Western Bulldogs had just launched the Sons of the West men’s health program to help tackle the alarming health outcomes of men living and working in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Recently diagnosed with a heart condition and coupled with a growing list of bad habits and inactivity, Jonathan’s weight had begun to balloon out of control and he was becoming increasingly self-conscious.

Even train rides to the city were becoming a thing of the past.

“If I absolutely had to travel it would be off peak because the last thing I wanted to do was take up other people’s space and have to squeeze them in. And I never ever sat down. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable and I avoided it.”

He had reached a point in his life where he was stuck and didn’t know where to turn.

“So I put my hand up and attended the first Sons of the West Men’s Health Expo.”

But that too came with its own battle: “ For me to get up on the scales was stepping so far out of my comfort zone it wasn't funny, not only would I get to see the weight I actually was, but I had to do it in front of another people.“

He left the ground that day stunned and a little hurt. It had been so long since he had weighed himself that when the needle settled on the number it did, it hit him hard. If you speak to him today, he’ll tell you that it was on that day that his journey to better health began.

It was and continues to be a long journey and even today he’s quick to say that he’s only halfway there.

“I only attended 2 sessions last year and felt a bit disappointed that I hadn’t achieved the goals that I wanted, which was losing weight, but I had in my mind I would do it better when the program ran again the following year.”

The seed had been planted and by the time year two came around, a more determined man arrived at VU Whitten Oval for his health check and he got a pleasant surprise when he again hit the scales at the 2015 expo.

“Of course, I was nervous about standing on the scales again but when I compared where I was with the previous year, I had managed to lose a larger amount of weight than I thought I had by just following the program online.  So I was even more motivated to make it work this time around.”   

As the calendar flipped to 2015 Jonathan was good to his word. It was a rare day when he missed a session, something that he is really proud of.  He puts it down to a couple of things, not the least his own determination to not let himself down two years in a row, but to be able to do it alongside other men, all there for the same reason as he was, to get healthy.

“We learnt that it was OK to say, hey I am not OK and ask for help.”

By the time the 15 week program neared its conclusion and it was time to do another health check, he couldn’t wait to get down to VU Metro West in Nicholson Street to jump on the scales.

And he got the result he was hoping for.

Jonathan has lost 28 kilos since that day in May 2014 when he turned to his football club for help. While the weight loss has made a significant difference to his everyday life, it’s the newfound knowledge about how to improve and maintain his overall health, and the tools and the motivation to keep going that has been the real benefit.

“I fully believe I am on the track to better health and while some changes are visible, others are not. But since starting the program I’m completely off all blood pressure tablets and I have also reduced other medications by 2 tablets a day.” 

“Without a doubt, the Sons of the West program hasn’t just changed my life, it is helping save my life.” 


Jonathan kept a video diary of his 2015 Sons of the West experience.

“Make the Rest of your Life, the Best of Your Life: A Sons of the West Journey” will be released on the Sons of the West website in December 2015.

Going the Distance… Inside the Inner Sanctum Health Experience


Not even one of Melbourne’s all too familiar cold snaps was going to keep the men away from the experience presented to them at Victoria University Whitten Oval on Monday night.

Not when the familiar strains of Bill Conti’s epic soundtrack to the Rocky movies could be heard echoing throughout the Elite Learning Centre, the Western Bulldogs training facility.

And not when Sons of the West ambassadors and club champions Steve Kretiuk, Tony Liberatore Scott West and Doug Hawkins were in the same building.

Now in its second year, the Inner Sanctum Health Experience was designed and developed to reward the men who displayed a genuine commitment to bettering their health through consistent and regular attendance of the education and exercise sessions throughout the duration of the Sons of West program.

While the ambassadors may have felt at home in the howling winds and sideways rain out on the Whitten Oval deck, the men were no doubt relieved to hear that their experience would be held inside the warm confines of the Kennel.

Split into three separate groups, men were given tips on the finer points of our great game under the watchful eye of messrs Kretiuk, Liberator and West.

A fourth group were seated in the theatrette – where the AFL and VFL sides receive their weekly briefings – and were treated to a ‘dancing’ Dougie Hawkins sportsman’s night – complete with mispronunciations of ‘ask’ and ‘manure’ and first hand tales of Hawk’s best work on AND off the field.

Stephan Vereker of Melton City Council could barely believe what he and his young son Jacob had experienced:

“The event exceeded best expectations. Many mightn't believe that we were given a rare privilege to have a footy clinic with AFL legends inside an AFL club's facility!

“And I can’t thank Tony Liberatore enough for his efforts, especially for giving his time to chat to and inspire us individually.”

As 80 plus sweaty men trudged back up the hallway, noticeably slower than when they walked in, and out into the night, you knew families all across the west were about to get their first taste of a story that they will no doubt have to hear over and over again for the rest of their lives - about the night with Hawk, LIbba, Westy and Kritter down at the Kennel.

Because that’s what men do.

Bulldogs Host Community Men's Health Forum


Victoria University Whitten Oval hosted Getting Back into the Game, the inaugural interactive community men’s health forum on Wednesday night.

The forum provided the opportunity for the community to have their say on how the next stage of the Sons of the West men’s health program might look and provided a platform to discuss the wider need for ongoing support for men in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Rob Moodie, Professor of Public Health and Learning at the University of Melbourne and former chairman of NRL club Melbourne Storm delivered the evening's keynote address and said that the strength of a preventitive program like Sons of the West is the potential for the reduced burden on the health system in future.

"Why is something like Sons of the West so important?  Because it's better to prevent illness than to simply wait for it to occur. 

"It's important because every man who has participated in this program is now a healthy role model for his friends, his family and his community.

"This program empowers the individual to help change what is normal in the community and that is a terrific outcome," Professor Moodie said.

Jonathan Manallack of West Footscray signed up for SOTW in 2014 but only started attending regularly in 2015.  He provided some insight into how difficult some men find it to take that first step and confront their health issues.

"For me to get up on the scales at the sign up day was stepping so far out of my comfort zone it wasn't funny.  Not only would I get to see the weight I actually was, but I had to do it in front of another people."

Manallack said that those early uncomfortable days have made way for a healthier and happier existence.

"I now have the tools and the motivation to continue to achieve those goals I have set, and I think I am about halfway there.  The program has enabled me to take what we have learnt through the weekly sessions and use them in my daily life and it has made  a real difference to me and to many people in this room who have participated.

"I fully believe I am on the track to better health and while some changes are visible, others are not. But since starting the program I’m completely off all blood pressure tablets and I have also reduced other medications by 2 tablets a day. 

"I fully believe that the Sons of the West program has not only changed my life, it's saved my life". 



Etihad Stadium Hosts SOTW Night of Nights


Etihad Stadium’s Crest Room and Legends bar came alive with the family and friends of the 252 men who graduated from the 2015 Sons of the West men’s health program on Saturday night ahead the Bulldogs v Carlton clash.

Over 500 guests filled both rooms from 5:30 to hear Western Bulldogs board member and club legend Chris Grant and Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne CEO Dr. Vanda Fortunato talk about the major impact that the program has had across the west of Melbourne in its second year.

“What this program does really well is reach men at the grass roots level. It reaches out to men in their homes, their workplaces, in their communities and challenges them to start changing their behaviours,” Grant said.

“It’s slowly changing the culture of men in the west, enabling us to work with government and health agencies to give men the support and tools they need to live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

Grant spoke of the outstanding support provided by the five local councils in bringing the innovative program to life but reserved special praise for the graduates.

“But of course, credit must go to the men graduating today. The trail blazers. The men who have been the first to put their hand up, to buck the trend and take back control of their lives.

“They’ve set the standard for men everywhere.”

Countdown to Graduation Starts... Now!


The 2015 Sons of the West men’s health program will conclude with a bang on Saturday night with a graduation ceremony ahead of the Western Bulldogs v. Carlton clash in front of over 800 guests.

With participation levels having trebled on 2014, the program that took Melbourne’s west by storm last year went to a whole new level in 2015.

Etihad Stadium’s Crest Room and Legends Bar will be packed to the rafters with government, sport, community and health industry leaders, as well as family and friends of the graduates, to watch each man presented with an exclusive Sons of the West Guernsey as a token of their achievements.

Western Bulldogs board member and club legend Chris Grant and Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne CEO Dr. Vanda Fortunato will kick off the evening before the jumper presentation gets underway at 6:20.

The graduation ceremony is the premier night on the Sons of the West calendar and men who have attended at least nine sessions and undertaken two health checks are invited.

Healthy Eating with Two Bald Bulldogs


At the end of the 2014 program we sat down with the men and asked them what they would like to see more of in 2015. They responded pretty emphatically that they’d like a bit more help with their diets and some guidance on how to cook up simple but healthy meals.

Our response was Two Bald Bulldogs, a healthy eating video series featuring Sons of the West ambassador and master chef Shane Delia alongside Brownlow Medalist Tony Liberatore demonstrating how small changes to everyday meals can make a big difference.

You can check out the first episode in the series by clicking here.

As Libba tells it, the message running through the video series is a simple one:

“Eating right isn’t difficult, it’s really easy.  Most of the time it’s about making simple decisions like getting the grilled fish instead of the fried, getting the salad instead of the chips and drinking water instead of the soft drink.

“The meals that Shane and I put together for 2 Bald Bulldogs aren’t too fancy, they are all about taking a meal you already know and love, like a chicken stir fry, and showing you how substituting basic ingredients for healthier alternatives will go a long way to improving your diet.”

The five part series will show you how to cook a steak the right way, talk you through the benefits of eating seafood and even how to whip up a healthier (and tastier) spaghetti and meatballs.

For a photo gallery of the shoot, visit out Facebook page by clicking here

Health Minister Announces SOTW Funding Agreement


The Victorian Government today announced that they will provide $200,000 to support the Western Bulldog’s Sons of the West Men’s Health program in 2015-16.

Speaking at the third annual Foundation 49 breakfast for men’s health, Health Minister Jill Hennessy, who helped launch the 2015 program in February, said that she was delighted to be able to provide support for what she thought was a “terrific program.”

“It goes out and it accepts men where and how they are and gives them a genuine pathway into good health in a way that is realistic, in a way that is supportive and in a way that I think makes a significant contribution in getting men to make those really simple changes to their health and wellbeing.”

Western Bulldogs President Peter Gordon said that new funding was a vote of confidence for a program that has seen participation treble on 2014 and in an area of Melbourne that has some of the worst health outcomes in the state.

“It’s particularly pertinent to the Western Bulldogs, of course, because we represent the western region of Melbourne and the western region of Melbourne has particular men’s health problems. 

“We’re over represented in areas like obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and Sons of the West gives men practical opportunities to learn about health, learn about nutrition, learn about exercise and the role of mental and physical health in combination.”

Gordon said that the innovative program, the first of its kind in Australia, is particularly good at reaching men at the grass roots level.  

“How do you get men on the ground, in their home and in their communities to actually start changing their behaviours?

“That’s what this program is designed to do and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re achieving those outcomes.  Certainly the follow up and the monitoring of the program both last year and this year is demonstrating some really solid results.”

Sons of the West entering its final stages for 2015 this week with all participants having access to a free health check in the lead up to ‘graduating’ from the program in July.

Final Health Checks


Sons of the West enters its final stages for 2015 this week with all participants having access to a free health check over the next two weeks, beginning tonight in Deer Park.

Coinciding with Men’s Health Week, the Bulldogs are encouraging all participants to make sure they get along to test locations across the West for their second and final check-up before graduation on July 4 at Etihad Stadium.

If you can’t make your usual council session you can drop by any of the below locations and we’ll look after you.



Monday, 15 June

6.30pm- 7.30pm

Sassella Park Hall,

121 Station Road, Deer Park       



Wednesday, 17 June

7pm – 8pm

Glen Orden Sports Pavilion

53/57 Kookaburra Ave, Werribee



Thursday, 18 June

6.30pm – 7.30pm

VU at Metro West

138 Nicholson Street, Footscray


Hobsons Bay

Thursday, 18 June

7pm – 8pm

Laverton Community Hub

95 – 105 Railway Avenue, Laverton



Thursday, 25 June

7pm – 8pm

Quest Apartments

234 Caroline Springs Boulevard, Caroline Springs


Sons of the West has gone from strength to strength in 2015 with participation levels tripling on 2014 and planning already having begun on a 2016 program. Click here if you’d like to register your interest.

New City, New Life, New Man


Glenn Warnick and his family were just settling into their new life in Melbourne when his father in law passed away suddenly from cancer.  Warnick had grown up in Brisbane and had recently taken a job as a  Sales Agent at First National in Taylors Lakes after 12 years working in a private nursing home.

Late 2014 was an exciting time for the Warnock clan.  A new city, a new career and with a young family, there was plenty to look forward to.  But all of the sudden the 33 year old was thinking seriously about his own health and wellbeing for the first time.

“I thought a lot about my family, my kids, my wife and… you obviously can’t pre-empt something like cancer but I know there are issues of high blood pressure on my side of the family,” he said.

“So it was all about keeping that in mind and I’m in the kind of job now where I sit a lot, I’m on the road a lot and fast food is everywhere.  I’m at that point where I could go either way and I thought, maybe I should just get a bit more information.”

As a Queenslander, Warnick was a diehard rugby league fan with not much interest in the AFL but his wife Kristy, having grown up in the heart of Bulldog territory in Sydenham, bled red, white and blue.  So when he spotted ads in the local newspaper that encouraged local men to get down to the Sunshine Leisure Centre to sign up for the Sons of the West men’s health program, everything fell into place.

As part of signing up to the program, all men are given a free health check and when he got his, Glenn found his blood pressure was high. Already concerned about the lifestyle that came with his new job, the program could not have come along at a better time for the young Dad.

“I hardly have anytime to have lunch and I’d often have unhealthy snacks in between opens for inspection so I was really keen to break those bad habits. Now, after hearing from Vanessa, the SOTW dietitian, about the what I should and shouldn't be eating,  I prepare different snacks during the week to have me ready for Saturdays. ”

Warnick says that these small but important changes can healp break the kind of habits that could have a big impact down the track.

But as with most men, staying on top of his physical health is only half the battle. One of the things Warnick was especially keen to get out of his SOTW experience was the chance to meet new people in his local area.

According to Beyond Blue, a man’s circle of friends starts to shrink once he passes the age of 30. For Glenn, this happened much earlier because of the demanding nature of the shift work he'd done over the past 12 years.

Moving to a new city only served to isolate him even further but thanks to his time with Sons of the West, he already feels like a part of a real community.

“I initially thought it might target the older age bracket but there are a diverse mix of guys who go each week. There are guys in their early 20s right through to guys in their 70s, and they are a really good mix of blokes. “

“I was expecting to be the youngest one here but no, it caters for everyone and it’s just fantastic.  I really look forward to going each week.”

Dad Matters


When it comes to health, particularly family health, men have historically been left out of the picture.  So when Tweddle Child and Family Health Service had the opportunity to partner with Sons of The West, the Western Bulldogs Football Club initiative to improve the health outcomes for men living and working in the west, we were thrilled.

What started off as a program for dads, quickly evolved to encompass a program tailored for grandfathers, uncles, mates, dads, cousins and sons.  Above all else, we wanted men attending these sessions to know how important they were as role models to children in their lives.

The stats tell us that men living in the west are some of the unhealthiest in all of Victoria. As parenting health professionals we are all too familiar with the particular challenges of encouraging men to look after their mental health.

The first year after having a baby is a period where some fathers are at risk of significant psychological distress and many don’t know that dads can get postnatal depression. Beyond Blue reveal that on average, 1 in 8 men will have depression and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. When balancing work and a family, this can be particularly difficult to cope with. Fortunately help is at hand.

There is a growing body of evidence about the role of fathers in children’s lives that suggests we should not underestimate the vast importance of this, not only because children ‘need and love their dads’ but also because of the significant impact that fathers have on the social, cognitive, behavioural, emotional outcomes and physical wellbeing of children from infancy to adolescence and with lasting influences in their adult life.[1]

Providing services for men is very important to Tweddle. We know that if we support the dad, the grandparent or the male carer, we are supporting the whole family.

Our services for dads include our Footscray and Williamstown based Psychology services, Residential and Day Stay parenting programs, in home parenting support, relationship counselling, programs for dads in prison and peer support groups for dads of children with additional needs.

During Tweddle's Sons of the West program we distributed a 'Useful resources about fathering' fact sheet which has phone numbers and links to important support for dads including The Fathering Project and Dads Online.

This information is available on Tweddle’s ‘Dads Information Centre’ on our website at under parent resources.

[1] The Fathering Project : How Fathers and Father figures can shape child health and wellbeing

Arocca's Bowel Cancer Regret


Eugene Arocca had pulled into the RACV Club car park off of Bourke Street in Melbourne just before 6pm when his phone rang.  The date was 17 September, 2014. 

Two days earlier he’d had a colonoscopy after his GP had found 3 pre-cancerous polyps almost four years to the day after he received, and ignored, the bowel cancer screening kit that all men are sent in the mail once they turn 50.

He’d been expecting the call but wasn’t ready for the news that he heard at the other end of the phone.

“I’ve just walked out of the car park, I’m going up to a reception, I’m downstairs and I take this call, I knew who it was.  ‘Doc, please tell me the news is ok’.  He says, ‘Euge, the news is not good’.  And then he goes into explaining and at this stage you start clouding up. 

“I had to lean up against the post while he was talking to me so I could take it all in.  Your heart starts pounding, you know, cancer.”

 If the Arocca name sounds familiar, it should.  Eugene Arocca is one of Australia’s most successful sports administrators.  He currently heads up the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and was recently named the 63rd most influential person in Formula One by motor industry bible Paddock Magazine.  Before that he spent four years as the Chief Executive Officer of the North Melbourne Football Club.

Bowel Cancer kills approximately 80 Australians per week but Arocca says that the real tragedy is that 90% of cases can be cured if detected early.  He was one of the lucky ones.

“When the kit arrived within a month of me turning 50, I read the instructions and I thought to myself, gee this looks hard, you’ve gotta do it twice, all that sort of stuff. But when for whatever reason I decided I needed to do something about it I picked it up only to find it had expired. So I through it in the rubbish bin.”

It took multiple prompts from his GP over the next couple of years before he finally “did something about it.”

“Why did I keep putting it off? I don’t smoke, I’m an irregular drinker and I suppose men think of themselves as bulletproof.  I think maybe I had a bit of that.”

“I don’t have many regrets in my life but not having done that screening test will live with me for a long time.”

Arocca is still visibly rattled when he talks about just how close he was to being another statistic.

“I said to my Dr, surely if I had of waited another 6 months I would have been ok and he said, ‘oh no, if you had of waited another 6 months it would have breached the bowel wall and you’d have  been in trouble, mate.”

It’s that sense of what he calls “being touched by the karma bus” that is behind Arocca going public about his brush with Australia’s second biggest killer.  He’s now an ambassador for the Jodi Lee Foundation and works closely with the Cancer Council.

“Recently I was at an airport lounge, sitting there having my coffee waiting to board my flight and a bloke I know from North Melbourne come up to me and shook my hand and said, ‘I want to thank you’.” 

“I thought he was thanking me for helping out the Kangas.  He said my best mate saw that article in the Herald Sun on the Australia Day weekend about your experience.  He was like you, he was in his 50s and he went off and had the colonoscopy. They found a polyp, they removed it and now he’s 100%, so thank you very much.” 

And that makes sharing what is a pretty personal story worth it.

“Did I go through all of this thinking I would be the bloke who is outspoken on bowel cancer?  No.  But is it a good thing to be doing? Absolutely it is.”

Eugene Arocca will address the men at VU Metro West in Footscray this Thursday from 6:30pm.

Tackling Anxiety and Depression with Beyond Blue


On average, 1 in 8 men will have depression and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.

Depression is a serious and common condition which won’t get better by itself.  If you had a broken arm or a deep cut on your foot, you wouldn’t expect that to heal without medical help. It’s the same with depression.

In general, men tend to put off getting any kind of assistance because we think we are supposed to be tough, self-reliant, and able to manage pain and take charge of situations. This can make it hard for us to acknowledge we have any health problems, let alone one which affects our social and emotional wellbeing. 

On average, one in eight men will have depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. While women are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, men are less likely to talk about it. This increases the risk of anxiety or depression going unrecognised and untreated.

It’s important to remember that anxiety and depression are illnesses, not weaknesses, and effective treatments are available.

If you think you may have depression or anxiety, and want to take action, start by talking to someone you trust – keeping it to yourself only makes things worse.

Remember, you are in control of your health and wellbeing - there are lots of different things you can do so find an approach that best suits you. For example, try to stay active and make plans for the day – they don’t have to be grand plans, just small things like going for a run, talking to a mate or doing some gardening.

Try to include activities or hobbies that you specifically enjoy.  At first, you may not enjoy them as much as you did before, but if you keep active and persist, the enjoyment should eventually return.

It’s also important to look after your body by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Try not to drink or take drugs to block out how you’re feeling – this is not a positive long-term solution and only makes the anxiety or depression worse.

So, there are a range of options available, but it’s different for everybody. The important thing is finding the right options and the right health professional that works for you.

If you, a friend or a family member need support or information around depression please visit Get immediate support on the beyondblue website.

The beyondblue support service provides advice and support via telephone 24/7 (just call 1300 22 4636), daily web chat (between 3pm–12am) and email (with a response provided within 24 hours).

No Such Thing as a Sure Thing


Tips to avoid BetRegret from the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation 

We understand that gambling is a big part of Australian culture and at the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation we want to make sure that people are doing it responsibly and that it's balanced up with other activities.

We all feel regret from time to time, whether it's on the sports field or related to gambling but the key is to recognise it and use it positively.

There is a feeling you get after you gamble more than you'd planned to, even if that feeling only lasts a few minutes. That feeling has a name. It's called Bet Regret.

Maybe you've spent more than you'd planned.

Or maybe you're gambling more, or for longer.

Here a few tips that should help you avoid that feeling of BetRegret.

  • Gamble less than once a week
  • Set money and time limits and stick to them
  • Leave your credit and debit cards at home
  • Don't mix gambling with heavy drinking or drugs
  • Gamble for fun, not because you need the money
  • Always know the odds and your chances of winning
  • Learn from past gambling experiences
  • Take breaks when gambling


If you or someone you know needs further support, the Victoria Responsible Gambling Foundation is here to help.

Gamblers Help offers free and confidential support 24/7. Help can be accessed via phone, face-to-face, as well as online and peer support.

For more information, call 1800 858 858 or visit: and

A New Ball Game


After tipping the scales at 100kg for the first time, Graeme Ball decided to do something about it


Growing up in Werribee, Graeme Ball was a sporty kid. He played football, tennis and was club champion in athletics. Then life happened.  

As he tells it, shift work and family responsibilities "conspired to stop the activity" and before he knew it he hardly recognised the bloke in the family photos. 

"My wife and I like to travel", Graeme said. "I was going back looking at some photos of our travels - my wife has a habit of putting her hand across my stomach - and it was becoming more and more evident that the photos were of her, me and my stomach."

Graeme's dad died young of a heart related condition so the pleas from his doctor and family to start looking after himself were constant, but old habits die hard. According to daughter in law, Katrina, "his weekends and weeknights would consist of watching telly, snacking on Tim Tams and being on his laptop."

Already suffering from regular migraines and high blood pressure, a weigh in during his regular GP visit had him tipping the scales at over 100 Kgs for the first time. He knew he needed to lose weight, but that number, and that moment was the trigger he needed to act.

"One of the messages that came through Sons of the West was that if you've got a girth size of more than 94… well, I was up to 104.  So, I got the pedometer out of the show bag that we all got when we signed up and started wearing it for a couple of weeks."

That was in August, 2014.  Today, Graeme walks over 14 kilometres a day, has cut out the Tim Tams and has lost a whopping twenty kilograms.

He says that it's hard to put into words how much better he feels.  "I just feel…better. I feel like, ok, I'm going to set the alarm on the weekends and go for a two hour walk. I feel energised."

But the weight loss and the increased energy levels are just part of the story. "The medication that I am on for high blood pressure, which is also the same medication for my migraines, I've halved, just because I'm in better condition." 

A couple of weeks ago Graeme got up in front of the men at a Sons of the West session in Werribee and told his story. Central to his presentation were three photos. A photo of him in Budapest in May last year at around 100kgs, a photo of him in China from November at 89kgs and the one he is most proud of, a photo taken at the Sons of the West sign up day alongside Doug Hawkins, weighing less than 80kgs.

He credits the Sons of the West program for giving him a kick-start he so desperately needed to take back control of his life.

"The doctor tells you things, your wife tells you things but when a blokey organisation such as the Western Bulldogs tells you that same message, it means more. You'd think a dr telling you something would have more impact. But for me it didn't."

"A professional organisation, who's dealing with professional athletes all of the time, looking after their health, looking after their nutrition. I guess that's it. I can't explain it, but it just meant more."


Bulldogs Roar on Sons of the West Family Day


Scott West joins the men and their families for a big day at the footy


Not to be deterred by one of the colder Melbourne days in some time, 250 men and their families packed Barker’s Café at Victoria University Whitten Oval for the Sons of the West family day on Sunday.

Food and drink were plentiful, there was face painting for the kids and a tour of the Bulldogs Museum for the adults, and more than a few men wandered out to catch the Footscray Bulldogs vs. Casey Scorpions VFL clash winding up out on the Oval.

The final siren was the signal to relive the glory days of suburban footy with a kick to kick on the very ground that Hawkins, West, Kretiuk and Liberatore made their name.  Fittingly, the strains of Sons of the West echoed across the ground after Ash Hansen’s men saluted to the tune of 24 points.

As the last torpedo attempt skimmed off the side of the boot, the big blue Sons of the West bus (and two others) had found a spot somewhere near the EJ Whitten statue, ready to be boarded for the trek to Etihad Stadium for the main event.

Sons of the West ambassador Scott West was on hand to take in the game but even Westy would have been stunned at the Western Bulldog’s demolition of the ladder leading Adelaide Crows. 

With the powerful Jake Stringer leading the way with 6 goals, the home team ran out 57 point winners much to the delight of the folks in aisle’s 31-32.

Family Day is a part of the Gather the Pack, the Second Quarter of the 2015 Sons of the West men’s health program that alongside White Ribbon, Victoria Police and Tweddle, focuses on family and community.


Cooking up a Storm


Bulldogs Clay Smith and Tom Campbell joined the men for 'Cook Smarter' cooking classes thanks to Woolworths


The inaugural Sons of the West ‘Cook Smarter’ classes were held last week and a new generation of budding chefs were born right across the West, thanks to Woolworths.

Over 250 men across all five councils were taught how to knock up an Egg or Tuna, Four Bean Mix with Lemon and Mustard Dressing and were given lessons on how to follow a recipe, how to make a dressing and the best way to quickly clean and then poach/boil eggs. 

The classes were a  highlight of the SOTW year so far, and even more so for participants attending the Maribyrnong City Council session in West Footscray who got the added bonus of being joined by Western Bulldogs players Clay Smith and Tom Campbell in their kitchen.

The Cook Smarter classes capped off Man vs. Food, the first quarter of the 2015 Sons of the West men’s health program that focused on providing men with important information about how to improve their diets through fun and informative presentations from Diabetes Aus-Vic, the Heart Foundation and official SOTW dietician Vanessa Korfiatis. 

For a copy of the 2015 Cook Smarter Cook Book, click here, and for a video wrap click here.


Be a Quitter


Kick the habit with these tips from Quit Victoria

Smoking kills two in three long-term users and continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia.

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health and you are not alone on your journey – Quit Victoria is here to help.

Here are some tips for when you decide to kick the habit for good:

If you have been thinking about quitting smoking, the first step is to list all the reasons you want to quit.

People quit smoking for many reasons, and any reason is a good one but thinking through your own personal reasons to quit will help you start on the journey.

Keep in mind quitting has immediate and long-term benefits on your health and hip pocket.

The surest road starts with seeking out and organising support for your journey. This could include seeking guidance from a Quitline adviser (13 78 48), using an on-line tool like QuitCoach or taking effective quitting medication like nicotine gum or patches.

Family and friends can also be a good source of support. Be upfront and tell them about your quit attempt so they can encourage you when you need it.

Picking a realistic quit date can be helpful so you have time to cut down and prepare for your attempt. Get rid of everything that reminds you of smoking, such as ash trays and lighters, which may lead you to crave a cigarette.

Staying quit can be challenging at first, but it gets easier over time. A visit to your doctor is a good idea, if you choose to use nicotine replacement products such as patches, spray and gum, they can give you a prescription making them cheaper to buy.

Quitline (13 78 48) can be useful too, by helping you set up a plan to quit and offering advice about the different methods and products. Using a Quitline advisor can double your chance of quitting successfully.

Rewarding yourself is also important when you reach your goals. Try putting the money you saved from buying cigarettes into a jar and watch it grow.

For more information see


Steve Kretiuk's TOP 7 tips to getting back in shape


Haven't exercised in a while? There are a few things you should know


With over 1500 men registered for Sons of the West in 2015, there is a chance that there will be a few guys reaching for the gym towel and pulling on the runners for the first time in a while.

While we want men to get as much out of the exercise sessions as possible, we also don’t want anybody hurting themselves, so below are a few simple tips that will not only keep you out of the medical room, but will have you looking and feeling the best you have in years.

1.       VISIT with your GP  – While keeling over is a bad look for a men’s health program, it’s especially bad news for you.  Before undertaking any new exercise program, make sure you visit your health care professional for the right advice.

2.       LISTEN to your body  – If you’re starting an exercise program after an extended layoff make sure you stay within your limits and start slow.  While you might be keen to give it everything, your body needs a bit more time to adjust.  It’s hard to get fit when you’re sitting on the sidelines injured.

3.       SET realistic goals – Results won’t happen overnight, but they will happen.  Consistency is the key here.  If you make exercise part of your life daily routine you are more likely to see long term results.  There is no such thing as a quick fix. 

4.       OBEY gravity If you’re looking to drop a bit of weight, running isn’t the answer.  When you run there is four times more force going through your knees than if you are standing still.  So, if you weigh 100kg that’s 400kg of additional stress.  The answer?  Lose weight to run, don’t run to lose weight 

5.       STOP eating rubbish – You’ve probably heard that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet.  This is true.  Like Lennon and McCartney or Vegemite and Toast, exercise works best in partnership with the right diet.  While beginning to exercise is a great start, if you watch you eat you will reach your goals faster.

6.       STAY hydrated - For your body to function at its best, it needs to be hydrated, so drink heaps of fluid during the day, while you’re exercising and afterwards.  Nothing good comes out of dehydration and people commonly mistake being thirsty with being hungry, causing them to overeat.  Water is king.

7.       BE realistic – Don’t expect to turn into Will Minson overnight.  It takes time and persistence to get into good shape, especially if you haven’t exercised for a while.  Set yourself small goals with a long term goal in mind.  Most importantly, focus on you and don't compare yourself to anyone else. Remember - everybody is different.

Changing life long habits can be tough but getting started is the hardest part.  If you’re reading this, you’re almost there, so congratulations. 

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be introducing Rise and Grind with Steve Kretiuk, an exclusive online exercise video series that will target your core, legs and upper body.

Stay tuned.


Who's up for a Sunday morning walk for a good cause?


Join us in supporting Walk West tomorrow morning in Footscray

This year we’re supporting Walk West, a community event set up by Western Health Foundation to raise money for the Children's Ward at Sunshine Hospital.

Entry is FREE of charge and Sons of the West Ambassador Tony Liberatore will be doing it with you.  It's a great opportunity to get out and about, catch up with men from other councils and have a chat to the 1990 Browlow Medalist, all while supporting a very worthwhile cause.

To register for Team Sons of the West, click here, or look for the Sons of the West marquee when you arrive and we'll look after you.

WalkWest will start and finish at Doug Mills Reserve (next to Footscray Rowing Club and along Marybyrnong Boulevard) and run along the picturesque Maribyrnong River and up to Coulson Gardens before heading back to The WalkWest Village.  We can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday!

Funds raised from WalkWest will directly assist the kids of the west by supporting the Sunshine Kids Appeal Program.

WalkWest Sunday 29th March 2015 9am - 1pm


Registrations still open!


Sign up at your local council for a limited time

If you want to get involved with Sons of the West but didn’t make it down to a Men’s Health Expo, all you have to do is get to a local council session and we'll sign you up.

Get to an enrolment session this week and you'll receive a FREE health check, a FREE 3 game Bulldogs membership and a FREE Sons of the West show bag stocked with gym towels, water bottles, t-shirts and of course, your 2015 passport.

Dates and times are different across all councils so click here for your 2015 schedules.

Think you know Joffa Corfe? Think again.


Men filtering through the Victoria University Whitten Oval Men’s Health Expo on the weekend would have recognised a few familiar faces. 

Sons of the West ambassador and Brownlow Medallist Tony Liberatore could be seen chatting with new sign ups and posing for pictures, SmoothFM breakfast host Mike Perso was spotted standing in line for a health check, and early arrivals would have caught young Bulldog stars Luke Dalhaus, Jack Macrae and Koby Stevens sweating through an early morning boxing session in the team gym.

But there was one familiar face that would have seemed somewhat out of place; that of Joffa Corfe, he of the famed golden jacket, and the second most famous Collingwood fan in the land. 

Most know Joffa only as the face of the Magpie Army but what a lot of people don’t know is that during the week he does serious work assisting homeless men in and around the Footscray area through the Salvation Army’s Foley House.

“This is the second year I’ve been involved through Foley House and the Salvation Army and it’s a wonderful program that’s all about men’s health, with all the problems of heart disease, depression, diabetes, and it’s been a great help to us guys at Foley House. 

Based in Ryan Street, Footscray, Foley House looks after around 45 residents, all of who at some point have been homeless and are living with a disability.

Joffa said that signing up to the program provided the men with simple but important knowledge about their health and was crucial in “getting the guys involved, getting them out and getting them fit.” 

As he watched his men proudly slip into their new Sons of the West shirts, it was only right that he follow suit, telling anyone that'd listen that he didn't mind one bit getting photographed in the red, white and blue of the Western Bulldogs for such a good cause.

“I wish my club was doing this, this is just a wonderful program.”

For more information about Foley House, click here.

Beasley, Del-re Lead March Back to the Kennel


Former Bulldogs link up with SOTW in the name of men's health

Men who were a part of the Sons of the West program in 2014 probably got used to seeing former Bulldogs champs like Scott West at their weekly sessions, but Doggies diehards are in for a treat this Saturday when Simon Beasley and Danny Del-re slip into a SOTW polo at the upcoming Hobsons Bay City Council Men’s Health Expo.

Beasley, known for his strong marking and reliable right boot, kicked 82 goals in his debut season after coming across from Swan Districts, and by the time ‘Pieman’ hung up the boots in 1989, he had 575 goals and the 1985 Coleman Medal to his name. 

Beasley was named as full forward in the Bulldogs Team of the Century in 2002, and his intercept mark and goal with seconds on the clock that sealed a famous comeback win over Collingwood in 1984 was voted the 7th most memorable moment in Whitten Oval history.  You can watch that by clicking here.

Danny Del-re may not have been as decorated as Beasley, but his 1992 season went down as one of the best by a Bulldog in recent history when the muscular wingman booted 70 goals to top the Club’s goal kicking.  While injuries cut Del-re’s career short, the famous number 26 will be forever remembered by Bulldogs fans for his 8 goal haul in the 1992 Qualifying Final against Geelong.

The second round of Men’s Health Expo’s are being held in West Footscray, Laverton, Sunshine and Werribee this weekend following a big turnout in Caroline Springs last Saturday.  Men who sign up on the day will receive a free health check, a free 3 game Western Bulldogs membership (1500 available), and a free show bag stocked with everything from gym towels, water bottles and of course, their 2015 passport and schedules.

Del-re and Beasley join Nathan Brown as former Western Bulldogs who have recently come back to the Club to get involved in the Sons of the West Men’s Health Program.

Full dates and times of the upcoming expos are below:


Maribyrnong City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 10am -12pm

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, West Footscray


Hobsons Bay City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 2pm - 4pm

Laverton Community Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 


Wyndham City Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 10am - 12pm

Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway, Werribee 


Brimbank City Council Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 2pm  - 4pm

Sunshine Leisure Centre, 5 Kennedy Street, Sunshine

Invasion: Caroline Springs


Melton Council men flood first Men's Health Expo

The starting gun was fired on Sons of the West 2015 last weekend with the first of five Men’s Health Expo’s attracting a bumper crowd.

The now familiar Sons of the West bus parked out the front of Quest Apartments on Caroline Springs Boulevard was a sign that something big was happening close by and sure enough, men poured in over the two hours to sign up, get their free health check, and most importantly, collect their 2015 passport and schedules.

While both the Bulldogs and Melton City Council were thrilled with the turnout, the number of signups was easily exceeded by the amount of photos our always popluar Sons of the West Ambassadors Doug Hawkins and Shane Delia posed for across the morning.

Men’s Health Expos are being held right across Melbourne’s West in the first half of March and will continue in West Footscray, Laverton, Sunshine and Werribee this coming weekend.

Full dates and times are below:


Maribyrnong City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 10am -12pm

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, West Footscray


Hobsons Bay City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 2pm - 4pm

Laverton Community Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 


Wyndham City Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 10am - 12pm

Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway, Werribee 


Brimbank City Council Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 2pm  - 4pm

Sunshine Leisure Centre, 5 Kennedy Street, Sunshine 



Men's Health Expos to kick off this weekend in Caroline Springs

Footy's back and so are we!

Quest Apartments in Caroline Springs is the setting for the first of five Men's Health Expos being held right across Melbourne's West over the next two weekends and will be the first opportunity for men to officially register for the 2015 Sons of the West program.

Men who sign up will receive:

  • FREE 3 game Western Bulldogs membership (limited to 1500),
  • FREE Showbag, and
  • FREE comprehensive health check.


Your showbag will include a t-shirt, a gym towel, water bottle and the all important Sons of the West passport.  The passport is the key to getting your hands on some great giveaways and incentives throughout the program.

Every session you attend will get you a stamp, and the more stamps you collect – the more you will be rewarded.

That's a pretty good deal.

The expos are family friendly, there's no obiligation on sign up and if you come down this Saturday you will have the chance to meet Bulldogs legend Doug Hawkins and master chef, Shane Delia.

Full dates and times are below:


Melton City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 7, 10am - 12pm

Quest Apartments, 234 Caroline Springs Boulevard, Caroline Springs 


Maribyrnong City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 10am -12pm

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, West Footscray


Hobsons Bay City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 2pm - 4pm

Laverton Community Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 


Wyndham City Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 10am - 12pm

Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway, Werribee 


Brimbank City Council Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 2pm  - 4pm

Sunshine Leisure Centre, 5 Kennedy Street, Sunshine 

Mega Members Competition!


Are you a 2015 Western Bulldogs member, male, and thinking about signing up for Sons of the West this year?

We’ve got just the thing to get you over the line!

Register at a Men’s Health Expo throughout March and you will go into the running to win the ULTIMATE fan experience down at Victoria University Whitten Oval.

Here’s what you get:

  • A meet and greet with new Western Bulldogs senior coach Luke Beveridge;

  • A coffee (or tea, or juice, this part really doesn’t matter) with two senior players; and

  • A tour of the Mission Elite Learning Centre at Victoria University Whitten Oval from Ben Graham.


Awesome, right? 

Just make sure when you register at the Men's Health Expos that you use the name and address that your membership is under.  We want to be able to find you if you win!

The competition closes at 4:00pm, Sunday March 15, when the last expo finishes.


Expo Dates


Melton City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 7, 10am – 12pm

Quest Apartments, 234 Caroline Springs Boulevard, Caroline Springs


Maribyrnong City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 10am – 12pm

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, West Footscray


Hobsons Bay City Council Men's Health Expo

Saturday, March 14, 2pm – 4pm

Laverton Community Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton


Wyndham City Council Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 10am – 12pm

Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway, Werribee


Brimbank City Council Men's Health Expo

Sunday, March 15, 2pm – 4pm

Sunshine Leisure Centre, 5 Kennedy Street, Sunshine


Please note: time and date of this inner sanctum experience is TBC to work in with the Club football schedule.

Winner must be able to work within the time frame set by the Western Bulldogs Football Club to claim this prize

Click here for terms and conditions.

Hennessy, Kennett help launch Sons of the West 2015


The Western Bulldog’s launched season two of the Sons of the West men’s health program on Wednesday morning to a packed house at Victoria University Whitten Oval.

Inspired by English Premier League giant, Liverpool FC, and their own men’s health program, Sons of the West was originally designed to tackle the poor health levels of men who live and work in Melbourne’s western region, and with over 1000 sign ups in 2014, took Melbourne’s west by storm in its first year.

The event, hosted by former Bulldog Nathan Brown, back at the club for the first time in a decade, was littered with big name guest speakers talking men’s health and discussing why a program like SOTW was so important for men of Melbourne’s West.

Western Bulldogs President Peter Gordon started off the morning with a light hearted dig at former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett’s choice of football team, only to have Mr. Kennett point out that not only did his own daughter used to work at VU Whitten Oval, but that indeed he was once a member of the club. 

The lesson: you never know when you’re talking to a card carrying member!

The former Victorian Premier and Chairman of Beyond Blue went on to speak about how important Sons of the West is in getting men together and having them tackle their issues as group.   “Sons of the West is a terribly important program”, he said, “And not just for individuals.  It’s important for their communities, their workplaces and most of all, their families.”   

Mr. Kennett was joined behind the lectern by avid Doggies fan and Victorian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy MP, who spoke passionately about the challenges faced in this particular area of Victoria and praised the Bulldogs for their leadership in the field of men’s health. 

“Sons of the West is exactly the kind of program my own Dad could use”, the Minister said.

Macedon Ranges and North Western Melbourne Medicare Local CEO Dr. Vanda Fortunato and Sons of the West ambassador Tony Liberatore rounded out the morning by offering a unique and engaging perspective of what the program looks like from the ground.   

But the biggest attraction of the day was easily the fully wrapped Sons of the West bus that was provided courtesy of CDC Victoria.  You would be hard pressed to find a guest who did not get iin on a photo with the 53 seater. Visit our Facebook page for a full gallery.

Men can register for Sons of the West by attending one of the five upcoming men’s health expos across the West in March.

Registrations To Open in March


2015 Men's Health Expo Dates Announced

Keen on signing up for Sons of the West 2015?  You're in luck!

Sons of the West is back bigger and better in 2015 and will kick off with a series of Men's Health Expo's right across Melbourne's West in the first half of March.  The Expo's will provide the first opportunity for men to register for the program that took the West by storm in 2014.

Men who register on the day will receive a FREE THREE GAME WESTERN BULLDOGS MEMBERSHIP.  

Yep, you read that right.

Men will also receive a FREE health check and a FREE show bag complete with a 2015 Sons of the West passport, a 2015 t-shirt, water bottle, gym towel, program schedules and heaps of other cool stuff.

The passport is the key to getting your hands on some great giveaways and incentives throughout the program. How it works is that at every Sons of the West session you attend will get you a stamp in the passport. The more stamps collected – the more you will be rewarded.

All Expo's will be family friendly and will provide men a chance to chat with program partners, last year's participants, and an opportunity to meet former Bulldog champions and 2015 Sons of the West Ambassadors.

All of this just for looking after your health? 

What are you waiting for? Stick these in your diary:


Melton Expo

Saturday, March 7, 10am - 12pm

Quest Apartments, 234 Caroline Springs Boulevard, Caroline Springs 


Maribyrnong Expo

Saturday, March 14, 10am -12pm

Victoria University Whitten Oval, 417 Barkly Street, West Footscray


Hobsons Bay Expo

Saturday, March 14, 2pm - 4pm

Laverton Community Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton 


Wyndham Expo

Sunday, March 15, 10am - 12pm

Wyndham Civic Centre, 45 Princes Highway, Werribee 


Brimbank Expo

Sunday, March 15, 2pm  - 4pm

Sunshine Leisure Centre, 5 Kennedy Street, Sunshine 

Renegades fall short but Brimbank Man a Big Winner


Big Bash Comp Winner Meets Siddle, Wade

One lucky Sons of the West participant found himself amongst Big Bash royalty at the Melbourne Renegades vs. Adelaide Strikers clash on Monday night at Etihad Stadium.

Marc Legovich of Brimbank Council was the first name pulled out the barrel for our Big Bash Facebook Like competiton and scored himself not only a free ticket to the game but a trip down into the rooms post match to chat with two of the biggest names in the Renegades camp, Peter Siddle and Matthew Wade. 

The boys were happy to take a few photos but we couldn’t get passionate Kangaroos man, Siddle, to put down his North Melbourne FC bag.  We’re not sure why he had what looked like a shopping bag with him, but there you go.  Perhaps he swung by the Kangaroos shop on his way to the game, as you do.  You can view the pics here

Marc wasn’t the only man sporting a Sons of the West tee shirt on the night either.  100 other men had their names drawn to cheer on the men in red in their last gasp attempt to reach the final four. 

In the end, the Renegades fell short by 22 runs but it was good to get a good chunk of the boys back together as we get ready to launch the 2015 program.

Melbourne Renegades Facebook Competition


Get FREE Big Bash tickets AND get into the rooms after the game!

How would you like a FREE ticket to see the mighty Melbourne Renegades take on the Adelaide Strikers at Etihad Stadium this January? 

Alright then, how would you also like to head down into the rooms after the match for a bit of a chat with the boys, a few photos and an autograph or two?

Still reading?  Thought so. 

All you have to do to get your hands on one of a limited number of tickets and go into the running for an exclusive post match experience is:

- Ensure you were a registered SOTW participant prior to December 1, 2014;

- Register here for a ticket; AND

- Like us on Facebook by clicking here

If you already like us on Facebook you’re already half way there.  If you’re not on Facebook you better get to it!

Be quick, we only have 100 tickets to give away and only one man will be lucky enough to get down into the rooms.

You have until 11:59pm on 11/01/2015 AEST to register/like and we’ll announce the winner on 13/02/2015. 

Good luck!

Terms and Conditins can be read here.

Sons of the West a Finalist for VicHealth Award


The Sons of the West Men’s Health Program has been selected as a finalist in the Communications in Health Promotion category for the 2014 Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Awards.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Plaza Ballroom on Wednesday, 3 December.

Sons of the West Program Manager said that “The Western Bulldogs are thrilled that our men’s health program has been selected as a finalist for a such a prestigious award.  The nomination is a tribute to the hard work and dedication put into the program by local council staff, our partners and of course the participants.     

“We wish our fellow nominees the best of luck and look forward to the ceremony.”

The VicHealth 2014 Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Awards aim to highlight some of the finest health promotion projects and programs working in Victoria over the last year.

The awards are given to projects which contribute new health promotion knowledge and evidence, provide a model for changes in the way health promotion is conducted in the community, demonstrate solid partnerships and sustainable funding models, as well as having made a tangible difference.

For more information click here

Into The Kennel...


Inside the Inner Sanctum Health Experience

You could see it on some of their faces as they walked up the race and onto what Doug Hawkins refers to as the ‘golden acre’. 

Some of them hadn’t set foot on the turf made famous by names like Whitten, Sutton, Templeton and Grant since they were boys and some not at all.  Even the non-Bulldogs fans amongst the group knew they were experiencing something pretty special when they were ushered through doors that growled “Players and Authorised Staff Only”. 

It’s the kind of access regular footy fans can only dream about.  But this wasn’t any ordinary tour; these men were to be taken through a training session by two of the Western Bulldog’s favourite sons, Steven Kretiuk and Doug Hawkins, deep within The Kennel itself.  More than one bloke was spotted looking up at the 6 metre high banner of newly anointed club legend Hawkins and then back at Doug, and then back at the banner again. 

We set up the Inner Sanctum Health Experience to be a special reward for men who not only did all of the health checks but showed up regularly to the information and exercise sessions.  The way we saw it was the football club could provide structure and support to men looking to make a change to their lives but only they could make it happen through their own hard work and commitment.  And we saw plenty of that amongst this particular group of men across the 12 week program.

The night began with a run through of what to expect in the theatrette – the room the AFL and VFL boys are given their instructions for the weekend - before the doors were flung open and the men marched down the race for some goal kicking and handball drills.  The windy Whitten Oval was brought to life with familiar slap of leather on boots and men getting around their mates.

It’s probably been a fair while since the voices of Kretiuk and Hawkins echoed around the famous ground, too. 

The boys were then led through a light body weight circuit inside the Elite Learning Centre by qualified personal trainer, Kretiuk.  But the man having the most fun looked to be Hawk, who seemed to enjoy reminding the men how sore they were going to be tomorrow as much as they enjoyed hearing him reel off one of his classic footy trip stories.

But the men loved every minute of it.  One of the Maribyrnong boys wrapped it up best:

“It was great to see so many happy faces; we were like kids living out our boyhood dreams.”

Bonds were formed, bad habits were broken and lives were changed over the course of the past three months.

We can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Inner Sanctum Experience Just Days Away!


The Sons of the West team are currently putting the final touches on the Inner Sanctum Experience that will take place this coming Monday for men who have done all of the health checks and attended 7 of the 13 council sessions.  It should be fantastic and we can’t wait for the day to come around. 

In other news, the team will hit the road next week for a chat with the councils about the upcoming summer program.  With the initial 12 week program recently wrapping up it's important to keep men active and engaged and we will be looking to make some announcements about what's ahead in coming weeks.

In the mean time we’ve put together some videos with the help of the footy department here at the Bulldogs to take men into the warmer months.  This week we have our Senior AFL and Rehab Physio Chris Bell delivering some advice on the best way to recover from sport or a training session. 

Recovery from exercise is just as important as the training itself so click here for some guidance from one of the best in the business.

Collect your FREE jumper from the Bulldogs Shop from September 8


If you weren’t at the graduation ceremony on Saturday but are eligible for a jumper you can collect it from the Bulldogs Shop from Monday, September 8.  The good news is that if you haven’t completed your final check you still have until the end of the day to get it done.  Just be sure to go all the way to the end and hit FINISH.

This weekend’s game against the Giants at Etihad Stadium marks the final game of the home and away season and the last chance for you to get down and watch a game of footy on us. 

First bounce is at 4.40pm and with Daniel Giansiracusa calling time on his 15 year career, the game has a bit of extra special significance, so get on down and give Gia the send-off he deserves.

Also, in the first of a series of videos to take with you into the warmer months, Western Bulldogs High Performance Manager Justin Cordy provides some health eating tips on starting your day the right way.  Click here to take a look.

VU Whitten Oval hosts Graduation Day for Sons of the West class of '14


The Western Bulldogs’ Sons of the West men’s health program wrapped up with a bang on Saturday, 23rd August at a sun drenched Victoria University Whitten Oval.

The ceremony, hosted by Bulldog’s CEO Simon Garlick celebrated the achievements of men who have made positive changes to their lives on the back of signing up to the 12-week program.

Sons of the West Ambassadors and former Bulldogs stars Doug Hawkins, Tony Liberatore, Brad Johnson and Scott West were all on hand to present Western Bulldogs footy jumpers to 100 plus men they have mentored across the journey, much to the delight of the 200 strong crowd who filled the marquee in front of the EJ Whitten Stand.

“The club should be so proud of what this program has been able to achieve our here in the west,” Brownlow Medalist Tony Liberatore said.  “We know it can be tough to get men to do anything health related but the attendance has grown each week and it’s been terrific to see these guys supporting each other.” 

“I’ve been proud to be involved and I’m proud of these men.”

The AFL first initiative launched in May this year and aimed to promote a healthier lifestyle for men living and working in Melbourne’s west.

For many the Sons of the West program has led to significant changes in their lives, whether it be through diet, exercise or getting help for serious health issues like depression.  It was also clear from the morning that all of the men have gained a whole group of new mates – a terrific outcome.

One of the program’s great success stories is 68-year-old Tony Boyd of Brimbank Council who had battled serious depression since injuring himself at work three years ago:

“The program got me getting up in the morning; it got me motivated and got it got me going again. I wish it didn’t stop because I really love it,” Tony said.

A lifelong fan of the Bulldogs, Tony, along with his brother Bill had his jumper presented to him by 7-time Best and Fairest winner Scott West.

As Simon Garlick said on the day, wherever the footy allegiances of the men may lie on the weekends, after Saturday they will always be a part of the Bulldog family.

A full photo gallery can be viewed over at our Facebook page

Friday Five with Bob Murphy


1)     What do you do during the off season to stay in shape and improve your game?

Exercise and train.

2)     How do you motivate yourself to exercise and what do you do to keep your workouts from getting boring?

Get out of bed and get moving. Change your routines once in a while.

3)     What is your favourite post-game meal?

Pasta, fried chicken

4)     Is there a fun or unique fitness routine or nutrition tip you that you can share?

Green Tea for weight loss, reduce carbs and dairy.  Walk every day.

5)     What’s one song that’s guaranteed to fire you up in the gym? 

Paul Kelly - Dumb Things

Around the Councils: Tony Borg


It will be 60 years on September 25 since the then Footscray Football Club won their first and only premiership.  It’ll also mark 60 years since Tony Borg, having just moved to Australia from Malta, begun his life long relationship with the Bulldogs.

To hear him talk about that afternoon in 1954 you can’t help but be struck by the great pride he feels in his footy club.

“We came out here when we won the premiership in 1954,” Tony said. “We had this guy across the road and I remember him coming home drunk that night and he was yelling that Footscray had won the premiership.”

“I remember saying, ‘is everybody like that?’ you know, coming into a strange country and all. But since then it’s always been Footscray ringing in my head.  It’s always been Footscray.” 

It’s that love for his Bulldogs that got Tony to join up to the Sons of the West men’s health program and it’s a decision that just might have saved his life.

Three years ago he had a nasty fall at work that resulted in serious injuries to his shoulder and neck.  What followed were three separate operations, six screws in his shoulder, a plate installed in the back of his throat and three years of crippling depression.

“I wasn’t talking to anyone.  I was very quiet. I was keeping everything to myself.  I would often go into my garage and burst out crying for no reason at all.” 

Tony says that the doctors told him that his injuries were similar to those of a car crash victim, but as a lot of men do, he put off the surgery that was needed to fix the serious structural damage sustained in the fall.  Eventually he did go under the knife but instead of feeling better, the pain got worse and as he puts it, ‘everything went bad.’ 

“You hear people talking about suicide and I’d say I got to that stage,” Tony said. “I don’t think I would have done anything silly but your mind points you in that direction.  If I am in the garage for any longer than an hour, the Mrs comes running in to make sure I’m alright.”

He credits his wife Pauline, his daughter Kim and in particular his brother Emmanuel for pushing him hard to join the program.

“I had my brother pushing me. He’d say, ‘C’mon Tone, you have to do it. We have to do it.’  And Kim was begging me.  ‘C’mon Dad, you have to do it.’  My brother has even been coming over to my place and picking me up, so I had to go.  And I’m glad I did because I reckon it’s the best thing I’ve done.”

He says that the Beyond Blue session early in the program was what convinced him to hang around but the changes have been ongoing.  He now walks everyday and he and Emmanuel have joined a gym and are going three nights a week. 

Although this year’s program soon finishes up, Tony reckons he’ll be all right because, for a start he is back doing the regular exercise that he used to enjoy so much.

But he is disappointed that the 12 weeks has gone by so quickly.

“It’s got me getting up in the morning, it’s got me motivated and got it’s me going again but I wish it didn’t stop because I really love it.”

Last Thursday Tony turned 68 years old.  Kim called the family home in West Sunshine early to wish him a happy birthday but he was long gone, having already left for the gym.

 “That past three years felt like thirty years, for all of us,” Kim said.  “But now Dad’s back.  And it’s really nice to have him back.”   

The Final Siren


We’re sure you don’t need reminding that if you completed your mid program check by July 21, 2014, this is your final hurdle to receiving your FREE Western Bulldogs Guernsey.  

You will still be able to complete your health check on-line by clicking here, however we’d encourage you to attend one of the local council sessions below. 

Each council session will have qualified health professionals onsite, ready to measure your vitals and ensure that you are getting the full Sons of the West experience.

Team Hobsons Bay – Tuesday 12 August, 2014. South Pacific Health Club Williamstown, Cnr North Rd and The Strand, Newport. 6.30pm to 8.00pm

Team Maribyrnong – Tuesday 12 August, 2014. RecWest Footscray, Cnr of Essex and Market Sts, West Footscray. 6.00pm to 7.30pm

Team Brimbank – Wednesday 13 August, 2014. Errington Community Centre, Hall 1, Princess St, St. Albans. 6.30pm to 8.00pm

Team Wyndham – Wednesday 13 August, 2014. Glen Orden Sports Pavilion, kookaburra Ave, Werribee. 6.30pm to 8.00pm 

Team Melton – Thursday 14 August, 2014. Melton Community Hall, 232 High St, Melton. 7.00pm to 8.30pm

It’s that easy. Do your check, get a jumper.  

Friday Five with Will Minson


1)     What do you do during the off season to stay in shape and improve your game?

All of the following: Run, Swim, Weightlift, Yoga, Pilates, Tennis, Fishing

2)     How do you motivate yourself to exercise and what do you do to keep your workouts from getting boring?

Variation is the key. I especially like to train overseas - a running session around Central Park in New York never seems to be as bad as a run around Princes Park in Carlton.

3)     What is your favourite post-game meal?

As clean as possible. Fresh veggies and seafood.

4)     Is there a fun or unique fitness routine or nutrition tip that you can share?

Don't waste time and energy cooking food - find out what you can eat raw and go crazy for it!

5)     What’s one song that’s guaranteed to fire you up in the gym? 

Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine

Workshop & Evaluation


Over the next two weeks there will be sessions dedicated to giving you the opportunity to tell us what you think about the Sons of the West program.  Everything from the topics, the schedules, the councils and even us are fair game.

This is about YOU and how we can improve this program for you going forward.

The sessions will be faciliated by Victoria Univeristy staff and all of the key times and dates are below.  We'd love to hear from you. 

Team Maribyrnong - Tuesday, 22 July 2014, RecWest Footscray, Cnr Essex and Market Sts, West Footscray, 6.00pm – 7.30pm

Team Brimbank - Wednesday, 30 July 2014, Errington Community Centre, Hall 1, Princess St, St. Albans, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Team Hobsons Bay - Tuesday, 5 August, South Pacific Health Club Williamstown, Cnr of North Rd and the Strand, 6.30 – 8.00pm

Team Wyndham - Wednesday, 6 August, Glen Orden Sports Pavilion, Kookaburra Ave, Werribee, 6.30 – 8.00pm

Team Melton - Thursday, 14 August,  Melton Community Hall, 232 High Street, Melton, 7.00 – 8.30pm

Around the Councils: Michael Hoy


Throughout May, high above the eastern corner of Victoria University Whitten Oval was a billboard inviting men to a health expo run by the Western Bulldogs Football Club.  

For many, the billboard drew a glance and it was with on their journey. But for some it was a trigger to make some changes.

One of these people was Michael Hoy - a true son of the west who grew up in nearby Hoppers Crossing and now lives in Werribee.

He’s a shy bloke but ask him if he takes a bit of pride in his patch of Melbourne he doesn’t hesitate: “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

His daily commute into the city takes him past the Club, and when he saw the billboard he knew it was time to act.

“The last six months prior I was really huffing and puffing and sweating all the time," Michael said.  "I had trouble even putting my shoes on without getting out of breath and when you’ve got young kids eventually you’ve got to do something about it if you want to enjoy life with them.”

Earlier in the year Michael had been admitted to hospital following a testicular cancer scare.
“They didn’t know initially for certain whether it was and the only way they could find out was to go in and have a bit of a look," Michael said.

"I suspected that there wouldn’t be anything wrong – which is what happened – and that they’d take it out and I’d be as good as gold.”
He’s in the clear now but it was the recovery period and being laid up for a month that had the biggest effect on him.
“The first week was really good - because I couldn’t move and was stuck in bed, I ate a lot less than usual and lost a weight as a result," he said.

"But as soon as I got well enough to walk around I’d hit the fridge and got up to 140 kilos, which is the heaviest I’d ever been.”

The extra weight had led to trouble sleeping and the occasional bout of depression.  He knew it was time to act and he made a plan to get down to Whitten Oval for the men’s health expo.

He kept it to himself up until a couple of days before the expo, sharing the news with his Mum and his wife.

“There were really proud,” he said.  

Now, instead of spending Wednesday night’s eating fried food in front of the TV he looks forward to getting to the Glen Orden Sports Pavilion in Werribee with the rest of the men of Team Wyndham.  

At the half way point of the program he’s lost six kilos, but most importantly he’s made some critical changes that have begun to turn around three decades of bad habits.  

Gone are the hamburgers, the pies and the soft drink and in their place are fruit, vegetables, regular walks and a renewed sense of confidence and energy.  And much to his family’s relief he has even stopped snoring.

He and a mate now meet every Thursday night to build a bar in the garage.  But when asked if any low carb beer will be on tap, he laughs nervously.
“Ah… hasn’t exactly worked out like that. I’ve dropped some things.  I have lowered the amount I’m drinking though!”

Like most of the men across the councils, Michael’s a work in progress but his well on the way to getting where he wants to go.

Friday Five with Matthew Boyd


1)     What do you do during the off season to stay in shape and improve your game?

Some sort of training every day. Varies between running, swimming, bike, boxing or weights.

2)     How do you motivate yourself to exercise and what do you do to keep your workouts from getting boring?

Plan out my sessions and write them down at the start of each week. Keeps me accountable to actually doing it. Variety keeps it from getting boring.

3)     What is your favourite post-game meal?


4)     Is there a fun or unique fitness routine or nutrition tip you that you can share?

Squeeze fresh juice of 1 lemon in my water bottle daily. Tastes great and good natural way to detox.

5) What’s one song that’s guaranteed to fire you up in the gym? 

Anything by Foo Fighters!!

Lloyd, Fev and Hughesy Fire in Vics Win


Led by glamour forwards Matthew Lloyd, Brendan Fevola and Dave Hughes, Victoria made it four on the trot with a gritty eight-point victory in last night’s Ray White EJ Whitten Legends game.
Former Bomber Matthew Lloyd won his second man of the match award with a vintage display in front a strong crowd of 25,872.

But the night's real winners were the EJ Whitten Foundation, men’s health awareness, and the group of more than 100 men representing the Sons of the West program.
The SOTW teams raised $2500 in just three weeks for the EJ Whitten Foundation and were treated to a lap of the ground pre bounce in a big show of thanks.  And didn’t the boys love it!  
The All Stars started strong with Shane Crawford and Michael Osborne slotting the first two goals before SOTW Ambassador and Victorian captain Scotty West opened the account for the Big V with a deft left-foot snap.
As always, there were casualties. Beloved Western Bulldogs mascot Woofer was gang tackled hard during the half time mascot sprint; our man emerging from the medical room at three quarter time on crutches to one of the loudest cheers of the night.
Now in its 18th year the Legends game has raised more than $1.3 million for prostate cancer research.  One in nine Australian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

If you'd like to donate to the EJ Whitten Foundation click here.

Final Scores: Victoria 0. 15. 6. 96 defeated All Stars 2. 10. 10. 88

Do your mid program health check and get rewarded!


With 1000 men signed up and the mid point of the Sons of the West program upon us, it's time for all men to now think about doing the all important mid program online health check.

Not only will you receive some valuable information about your progress but you’ll also be eligible for some of the fantastic give-aways we have lined up to reward your hard work and persistence:

1) Do mid program online health check by Jully 11, 2014:

Receive a free 3 game Western Bulldogs membership.  A merchandise voucher of the same value is available to  participants who are already Bulldogs members.

2) Do both mid and end program online health check:

Receive a free Western Bulldogs Guernsey.

3) Do both mid and end program online health check AND attend 7 of 13 sessions (Passports stamped):

Be invited to attend an exclusive health and fitness inspired inner sanctum experience at Victoria University Whitten Oval.

You've put in the effort now get rewarded! Follow the link to get started.

Sons of the West Ambassadors pull on the boots for EJ Legends Game


The Sons of the West program will be well represented at this Tuesday’s Ray White EJ Whitten Legends game with ambassadors Steve Kretiuk, Tony Liberatore and Scott West all pulling on the boots for the annual event.  They’ll be joined by a host of former Doggies greats donning their state of origin jumpers for what is sure to be an entertaining, if not hard fought contest.

Western Bulldogs fans will also recognise current Football Operations Manager Ben Graham and List Manager Jason McCartney running around on the night in the Big V.

Now in its 18th year, the game continues to play a critical role in increasing prostate cancer awareness across our community and raising much needed funds for research.  One in 9 men in Australia will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime so get down to the game, support your ambassador and get behind this worthy cause.

If you can’t make it down to Etihad Stadium on the night but you’d still like to offer your support, you can donate to the EJ Whitten Foundation by clicking here, or you can take part in our recently announced silent auction in which there is a Western Bulldogs team signed Guernsey on offer, valued at $495. 

First bounce is at 7.45pm on Tuesday, July 1.  Gates open at 6pm. See you there.

For a full team lists click here.

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