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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 3005

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (09:51): On Saturday I am heading down to Fleet Street, Parramatta, to the site of a school which was built originally for the women and girls who were locked up in the Parramatta Girls Home—but it is now being revitalised. Three of the classrooms will become the site of the new Parramatta District Mens Shed.

Men's sheds are quite a new phenomenon. They are actually considered to be an Australian creation after a men's health conference in Melbourne in the mid-nineties. A group of people in Lane Cove formed an association for 'shedless' men and in Lane Cove they opened what is now known as the first official men's shed. Parramatta, even before the opening of this new shed, has six men's sheds, including one in Granville, the Arrunga Community Men's Shed in Ermington, one in the Hills, the ChainBreakers Shed, and one in Northmead. The Northmead shed was opened by a group of men, including a good friend of mine Kerry Boyce. They opened Northmead and now it is completely full, and so they have moved a kilometre down south to open another one in Parramatta. The sheds really are quite a phenomenon. The first one opened in the mid-nineties, and now there are about 900 Australia-wide. They are opening at the rate of four a week.

I would like to acknowledge some of the people who work so hard at Northmead and who are now transferring their attention to Parramatta: Kerry Boyce, of course, whom I mentioned earlier; Ian McHugh, who was a consultant for the Northmead shed and is now working on this one; Doug Mackay; and Jim Lambert, who is a retired engineer. I know quite a few of those men because they are members of the Parramatta RSL Sub-Branch—you know the old saying of 'ask a busy person'. This is a great thing to do.

There is considerable research coming through about the health benefits that are occur when men get together in this way. The role of the shed in the backyard in Australian history is probably not well understood. In my family they are known as the 'man cave', by the way, not the 'shed'. I think 'man cave' is an appropriate name for them. Clearly they play an incredibly important role in the ability of men to get together to chat and talk about things of concern to them. They are flourishing in my area. Every time I go to one, I am amazed at the number of people who attend, the range of projects they undertake, the work they do and the way they feel when you go in. They are very, very special places. This shed, as I said, will be in a place which is also very special. They have been essentially invited in by the old Parramatta girls who were residents in the home for quite a few decades. So it is a really nice place to visit, and I am looking forward to being at their first meeting on Saturday.