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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12901

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (09:49): Yesterday I attended the Australian Men's Shed Barbecue on the front lawn of Parliament House. It was a great day with hundreds of men's shed members from across the country descending on Canberra to celebrate the great things they are doing in our communities. I was fortunate enough to catch up with members who travelled from my electorate and some surrounding suburbs. The blokes from Warradale, Oakdale and Tahmoor men's sheds shared a bus down for the barbecue and it was great to catch up with them.

I think the concept of the men's shed is a fantastic idea, and I know that there are many blokes in Macarthur who value the time they spend each week with like-minded males, sharing their stories and skills and assisting in community projects. In Macarthur, we have several men's sheds that meet a few times each week and take part in activities such as woodwork and metalwork, restoration of furniture and old cars, making and repairing items for schools, hospitals and councils, and learning new skills with hand tools, machinery and computers. Men's sheds like those in Macquarie Fields, Airds-Bradbury, Camden, Oakdale, Warradale, Camden Community, Wollondilly Community, and the new shed in Narellan provide great support and friendship for their members as well as the opportunity to take part in some very important community projects.

I have dropped in to see many of these sheds in action across the electorate and have been very impressed by the skills, workmanship and mateship I witnessed during my visits. For example, in Camden the men's shed looks after the Camden Bicentennial Equestrian Park with voluntary park maintenance and development work. The members look after grass cutting, tree maintenance, building and fencing, painting, noxious weed removal and general cleaning. The shed has even participated in a research study with the University of Sydney aimed at increasing the participation of older people with chronic disabilities in community groups and voluntary work. This is just one example of a shed that prides itself on voluntary work which creates huge savings for the local community—something they should all be very proud of.

The new men's shed at Narellan will be another example of members doing their bit to help the community. The shed is based at the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living and members will help to maintain the grounds and a vegetable patch at the centre. Another example is the Tahmoor men's shed, which has recently constructed timber frames for garden beds and helped develop the playground area of the Rainbow Playhouse Preschool in Tahmoor. These are just some of the examples of the great things that men's sheds across Macarthur are doing for my community.

I believe that we have come to a point where the community would be at a disadvantage without the existence of these valuable sheds and the dedicated members within. Men's sheds across this country may have initially been established to give retired men a place to go, to reconnect with society, make new friends and continue to use the skills they acquired over many years in the workforce, but now these sheds and their fine members are an important part of our communities that we would not want to do without. I am proud to say that in Macarthur these men make a valuable contribution each week to those who need help or are doing it tough. This is why I stand here today to congratulate all of the men who are members of men's sheds in the Macarthur region for their commitment, not only to supporting each other but to supporting a community which they have become a very important part of.