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Speech to Parliament: Penrith Men’s Shed

Mr STUART AYRES (Penrith) [5.49 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to the efforts of a cross-section of my local community in pursuit of Penrith’s first Men’s Shed. All too often decision makers and community leaders consider that men’s issues, men’s health and social support networks such as Men’s Sheds are somewhat peripheral to the real issues affecting local communities. However, men’s health is a real issue and is at the forefront of the Penrith community. This is an opportune time to recognise what is so special about a men’s shed. The Australian Men’s Sheds Association website has the following information:

    So what is so special about this new type of Men’s Shed? Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions. There has been little encouragement for men to take an interest in their own health and well-being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this many men are less healthy than women, they drink more, take more risks and they suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression. Relationship breakdown, retrenchment or early retirement … loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the problems that men find it hard to deal with …

Often men’s sheds provide an opportunity for men to meet and discuss some of the issues that are critically important to them. The sheds provide a sense of community and often a real spirit of mateship exists. The sheds also bring together a set of skills, trades, tools and experience. Volunteers across the community can provide regular assistance and help other community groups to their great benefit. On the weekend I attended the launch of a Community Building Partnerships Program grant for the local Brothers Rugby League Club. Many of the people involved were local blokes who worked hard to get new awnings, shed facilities for the ground, a lawnmower, pads and all the things that enable a club to operate.

I draw to the attention of the House the great work of the inaugural committee of this new group led by Jeff Lawson, who is an indefatigable member of the Penrith community, along with the strong-willed Kevin Finlayson, Simon Simtow and Trevor Basford. The committee is working in conjunction with the teaching staff at Kingswood High School to host the men’s shed on site and find appropriate synergies between the school’s facilities and value-adding that the men’s shed can bring to the school community. I am also impressed by the private sector contributions from Penrith’s businesses towards this endeavour. Members who served in the previous Parliament would be aware of the significant contribution our local business community makes to the Penrith region. It would come as no surprise once again to recognise the Penrith Good Guys as a contributor to the project, joined by Bunning’s at north Penrith and Fender Industrial, which has offered to make in-kind donations towards supplies needed to run a men’s shed.

In addition, Mr Jack Compton, a resident of Emu Plains, has made available to the men’s shed a wide range of tools to start its activities program. I am filled with anticipation that the Rotary Club of Penrith and neighbouring sheds at Warradale and the lower Blue Mountains are also interested in providing support. The Penrith Men’s Shed is hosting an information session and barbeque this Saturday at 10.00 a.m. Members of this House who are interested in men’s sheds for their electorates are more than welcome to come along and see how the Penrith model is working and take on board the ideas raised for the benefit of their communities. It is a good opportunity also to remind members that men’s health and mental health issues are critically important to their electorates.

The Men’s Shed Association has a fantastic website and I encourage members to check it out. Resources are available to community groups that want to establish a men’s shed. The website also provides outlines on the legal ramifications involved with establishing a men’s shed and things that need to be done. At the end of the day the establishment of a men’s shed in Penrith will go a long way to providing a location where men can meet in the spirit of mateship to combat some issues around men’s health and mental health in the region.


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Stuart Ayres - Member for Penrith

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