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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 296

Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (10:58): The federal electorate of Capricornia expands 91,049 square kilometres and takes in the coastal community of Sarina on the Central Coast of Queensland. On a recent road trip, I visited the Sarina Men's Shed to learn more about their program. From the moment I walked through the door, I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome and the generous spirit of the blokes who greeted me, including their president, Jon Eaton. As I shared a cuppa and a cake, I was moved by their stories of how the men's shed philosophy of mateship had changed their lives and in some cases had in fact saved their lives. Some blokes just wanted mates to do woodwork with, some had lost their wives and had difficulty talking about it and some were recovering from mental health issues. Others had suffered strokes, while some had simply retired and felt isolated by not having something meaningful to fill their time. What is incredible is that the Sarina Men's Shed and other sheds like it give extraordinary psychological support to blokes, echoing the words of an old John Williamson song, 'All Australian boys need a shed.' The Australian Men's Shed Association advocates that being a member of a men's shed leads to improved health. According to this association, becoming a member gives a man a safe and busy environment where he can find a non-judgemental atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship.

Sarina's men's shed needs bigger premises. They are currently using a borrowed shed that is far too small for the 50 or more members they have. This group of inspiring blokes have already raised $70,000 of the $100,000 they need to get the project off the ground. They are a mere $30,000 short, and they have asked for help to see what assistance may be available to bring their plan to reality.

The Australian government already supports the men's shed movement through small grants for tools. We really need to get behind them in a greater capacity to help them improve their infrastructure in Sarina and other places. It could be argued that nothing has had a more positive impact on the long-term psychological well-being of blokes in our community than membership of their local men's shed. Immediately, what the Sarina men's shed needs is a generous benefactor they can provide the final piece in their puzzle. If any big corporation or benefactor out there is moved by the men's shed concept, as I am, I urge you to make a generous donation to the Sarina group. Men's sheds are Australian initiatives and I would hope that there would be opportunities in the coming year to find some future funding.