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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5613

Mr HAYES (9:51 AM) —One of the joys we have in representing our communities is the opportunity that we get from time to time to meet many surprising people, people that ordinarily you would not get a chance to meet. Last Monday I met more than 20 men at the Bonnyrigg men’s shed, where I was treated to a wonderful barbecue lunch followed by a tour of their premises. Most importantly, I had a chance to talk with them and catch up. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have men’s sheds in our communities would know that they provide a common space for men of varying ages to gather, to socialise and to enjoy meaningful activities such as woodwork, metalwork and restoration of antiques. However, it was clear to me during my visit that the men’s shed also served as much more than that.

The men’s shed in Bonnyrigg is a place for mainly older men in the south-west of Sydney to connect and it provides them with the opportunity to contribute to their communities, to learn new skills, to share knowledge and most importantly to make new friends. It is true that they are especially popular with men over 50 who are retired and looking for an interest outside the home; it keeps them busy, fit and healthy. Yet they are also well liked by those who have health issues brought about by social isolation, retrenchment or other factors affecting their lives. Essentially, they are a place for blokes to gather, to get things off their chests and, importantly, to talk to other men in similar situations.

Men’s health is of national importance, and this has been highlighted by the government’s new National Male Health Policy. It makes the programs on offer at the Bonnyrigg men’s shed just so important. The men’s sheds are aimed at combating depression caused by isolation through regular participation, which in some cases leads to trade skills, new opportunities to come together and volunteering in the community in general. Over the barbecue lunch the men took the opportunity to tell me that they felt comfortable in that sort of relaxed environment. It was certainly a supportive environment. When I was there I made the commitment that I would support them. I recognise the valuable role the men’s sheds play in building stronger communities, making activity for people in their older years possible and giving those people the opportunity to gather, come together and support one another.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to mention Brian Waites and Mick Johnstone for their valuable work at the men’s shed at Bonnyrigg and Matt Dillon and Tairyn Vergara from the Parks Community Network for their dedication and commitment to supporting this wonderful community asset. The men’s shed at Bonnyrigg is a valuable resource and one that clearly is making a difference in our community.