Thursday 27 September 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Special Interest Matters


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I want to talk about men's sheds because they are a demonstration of community cohesion and they are truly a grassroots initiative. There are presently 30 men's sheds in Tasmania.

I have two in my electorate, Gravelly Beach and Exeter, and one in the pipeline at Beaconsfield. It is the Tresca Men's Shed at Exeter which I will be opening shortly in their new premises. I think the date is 7 November. I want to talk about the Tresca Men's Shed today. It began eight years ago in an old outbuilding that could only accommodate four men working comfortably but generally had to squeeze in six to eight men to work together. The Tresca coordinator of the Men's Shed project, Jenny Gee - yes, a woman - spotted the needs and she began a process to gain council permission to get the funding for the new shed. Jenny was then followed by Rhonda Legge, another woman, and they both worked very hard to bring this project to fruition.

One of the problems with these projects, as you can imagine, is that title of men's shed. It is a bit too much like an exclusive club. However, the Exeter Men's Shed, and numerous others around Australia, now have programs for women if enough interest is shown. The Tresca shed is going to be open four days a week and the fifth day is going to be set aside for use by women.

Rhonda Legge said that the shed would be able to accommodate 20-40 men on a rotational basis. I recently went to have a look at the way that it has been developed and built. It is a fantastic structure. There is the old shed and here is this thing about four or five times bigger - beautiful and modern - and they are going to have really good equipment so it will go ahead in leaps and bounds. They will attract a lot of new members.

Because the men who use men's sheds are generally retired, often with many skills and many years of experience with a trade, they have much to pass on to younger people and they have special programs to enable them to do that. There is a link, on video, to all sorts of activities like bird watching, cooking, dementia and so on. It is not just about developing carpentry skills that people might think of as the men's shed.

The Australian website is and the Tasmanian website is, which is very informative. The website has helped to promote the men's shed movements around Australia. They act as a hub of information exchange and they also help link up projects around the country. They are also established as part of the health infrastructure that supports programs to improve men's health and wellbeing. Very much needed.

Many men in communities such as Exeter have been made redundant or retired so this is very much about programs to maintain their sense of worth through the sheds' activities and the mateship. Men's sheds must also be mentioned in the assistance of suicide prevention, which is very important in our communities. The men's sheds stress the subject of men's health.

I would like to read from the website:

Men's sheds are now established as part of the health infrastructure that supports programs to improve men's health and wellbeing.

The focus of Mensheds Australia is on building the sustainability of men's sheds. We believe that the sustainable shed will have assured financial resources and that their own commercial activities will be an important element. Men's sheds are a social enterprise that create value and that value should form the basis of assured revenue from those that benefit from shed activities.

The men's health program is crucial for all sheds. Sheds need to find the men's health niche in their community and build their programs to achieve health outcomes. That will require resources and partnerships with the many health agencies and other community organisations.

Mensheds Australia works to understand the objectives and needs of the sheds and matches that to support resources from the business and public sectors.

The reorientation of our efforts will be reflected in the website as it is redeveloped over coming weeks. In the interim, we encourage sheds and potential resource providers to join us in this journey.

Mensheds Australia Ltd. is a not-for-profit Australian Public Company, Limited by Guarantee, dedicated to supporting and resourcing men's sheds across Australia.

The Tasmanian base of men's sheds is in Campbell Town, which has its own men's shed. It does not take a great deal of imagination to understand how men's sheds promote community cohesion but also save many men from loneliness and that lack of purpose that sometimes occurs after retirement.