What is Australia’s most successful home-grown export - Neighbours, Uggies, Tim Tams, Kylie or Vegemite? Some practical folks would argue none of the above. It could be argued that (certainly from a health perspective) the concept of the Men’s Shed pips them all!
Since inception 10 years ago the popularity of ‘shedding’ has boomed, and there are now more men’s sheds in Australia, almost 980, than there are Maccas franchises.
“In NSW alone there are 330 men’s sheds that provide a safe, productive and friendly environment for men to work on meaningful projects, have a chin wag and be involved with their community,” says Mr David Helmers, Executive Officer of the Australian Men’s Shed Association.
To emphasise the growing popularity and success of Men’s Sheds, the three-day 7th National Australian Men’s Shed Association Conference, being held from 29 September to 1 October 2017 in Surfers Paradise, is expecting a record attendance this year, from both local and overseas operators.
The conference will cover a range of topics including governance, finance, operations, as well as work health and safety issues. It will be attended by key representatives from many of the sheds throughout Australia, as well as local interest groups and council staff, men’s health groups, general ‘shedder’ members and international delegates.
The Australian shed concept has taken off overseas, with 400 sheds now in Ireland, 300 others throughout the UK, 100 in New Zealand and just recently North America has been getting into the mix.
“The number of sheds overseas is expanding rapidly,” says Mr Helmers. “For somewhere like Ireland they were hit pretty hard by the global financial crisis, which left a lot of people struggling.
“They recognise the benefits of the men’s shed concept in providing a safe haven in the community and reducing the number of men who are at risk from preventable health issues.”
It is well known that many men are reluctant to talk about their emotions or ask for help, and as a result there are a significant number of older men suffering from isolation, loneliness and depression.
Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive, contributing to your community, connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and mind.
Men’s sheds tick all these boxes. They are powerful tools in addressing health and wellbeing and helping men to once again become valued and productive members of our community.
As Mr Helmers further explains, “traditionally older men talk shoulder-to-shoulder not face-to-face so this is a comfortable environment for them.”
If you would like further information about the 7th National Men’s Shed Conference being held in Surfers Paradise or are interested in finding the location of sheds in your area, check out the Australian Men’s Shed Association website or contact the organisation on 1300 550 009.