The Mens Shed Movement
The community men’s shed phenomenon in Australia is only beginning to be understood as is it’s potential to improve the health of men.
The men’s shed movement has gathered momentum as communities across Australia come to realise what a difference communal space specifically for men can make. The modern version of the mens shed, particularly those shed organisations whose aims included the enhancement of men’s health and wellbeing, appear to have developed and proliferated first in South Australia during the mid-1990s (Mens Shed In Australia, NCVER, 2007).
There are now more than 1000 men’s sheds successfully operating throughout urban and rural Australia with a combined membership of more than 100,000 and growing at a couple of Sheds per week. What occurs in the communal space can differ greatly from shed to shed, and from time to time, depending on what the members have to offer and on what the men feel like doing. The idea behind men’s sheds is that they offer a space in which men of any age or circumstance feel a welcome part of a community. Skills can be shared, problems discussed, information about health and wellbeing matters exchanged. All men of all ages, backgrounds and states of health are welcomed by the sheds.
AMSA in 2012 welcomed it’s 700th Men’s Shed. This incredible movement continues to gain momentum and we are all amazed that we have reached this milestone in such a quick time. The 700 sheds represents approximately 90,000 plus men so we look optimistically to a future with endless possibilites.
The 700th shed opened at Bonnell’s Bay on February 21st, 2012 and was named the “Bonnells Bay Salvation Army Men’s Shed”. It is a little bit different to a lot of other Men’s Sheds in that it was originally opened to attract men between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age with a view to mentoring opportunities. The shed is located in a gymnasium and for 2 days a week, it operates as a gym with punching bags, treadmills and weights replacing the usual lathes and sawdust that is usually found in a Men’s Shed. There is, however, a workshop room at the facility and according to Bonnell’s Bay Salvation Army Minister, Laura Gittins, the workshop has become increasingly popular with the men at the shed, “We have noticed more men becoming involved in that activity and we also have an artisitic section where the men can display their artisitic skills. One day into the future, we will develop a community garden that continues to assist members of our community to connect with one another.”
Men’s Sheds often start under the auspices of a variety of organisations yet each Shed tends to develop its own individuality. Melba Shed has followed this path and developed its unique but successful style being a mixture of informative presentations, simple BBQ social occasions, helping some community groups, trips to places like the War Memorial through to long full day adventures to locations like Namadgi National Park. It also has special interest groups undertaking cycling, walks and even exercises.
Member for Canberra Ms Gai Brodtmann in Hansard of 17th August 2011
Today I would like to draw attention to the valuable contribution made by men’s sheds in the Canberra community. Over the past decade men’s sheds have increased dramatically across the country to promote men’s issues. Men’s sheds focus on helping men around Australia with any problem they might be facing. It could be a health problem, isolation, loneliness or depression. The shed connects men with their community and establishes a feeling of mateship. In Canberra (ed note: ref here is to Canberra electorate ie south Canberra only) there are two men’s sheds and another one is currently being proposed. Men in the community such as Robyn Matthews in Greenway and Kevin Bawden in Richardson work overtime to run the men’s shed. I would personally like to thank them for their time and commitment to improving men’s health and wellbeing. A men’s shed provides a space for mateship and a feeling of belonging. It meets the needs of members and their families. It has a developed program designed to advance men’s health and wellbeing. It is inclusive to men of all ages and has a strong community engagement. I would like to acknowledge men’s sheds throughout Australia and all those individuals who operate the sheds for their commitment to their community and to the health and wellbeing of their members and for their commitment to promoting and assisting men with their range of issues. (Editor’s Note: Gai was talking about the electorate of Canberra when discussing the numbers of sheds)
Items on Sheds
Some humorous interludes on men and their sheds
The Code of Practice
A group of wags associated with Woodworking Australia put together a 31 page Code of Practice which you might like to read. Its a humorous extensive dialogue on men, men’s sheds and the way women should see them! In the Code they define Shed as “a shed is the domain, demesne and realm of a bloke”.
Under the Special Interest Tab on the Woodworking Australia site, they have a forum dedicated to Mens Sheds
Aussie Blokes and their Sheds
This was apparently published in the Canberra Times and read out to the Shed by Clarrie (no longer with us) on 9th July 2010. Its a classic ditty on men and their sheds although somewhat tongue in cheek and with some current political satire thrown in.
Newspaper Articles on Melba Shed
Courtesy of the Chronicle of the 29th August 2008 (on the left) and of the 25th August 2009 (on the right)
Double click on image to enlarge it.
Newspaper Article on Majura (Ngunnawal) Mens Group
Courtesy of the Chronicle of the 14th Jul 2009 and Canberra Times 20th Aug 2010
Double click on image to enlarge it.
Newspaper Article on Sheds in General
Courtesy of the Australian of the 2nd August 2009