In early 2010 Woodgate RSL Sub-Branch was looking for a worthwhile community project. It was decided to get behind the concept of a “Men’s Shed.” It has been a long hard slog, complicated by the fact that there is no land in Woodgate that can be readily acquired for community based purposes such as a Men’s Shed. Woodgate is surrounded on three sides by national park and on the fourth by the northern shoreline of Hervey Bay. The only land that is available is controlled by the Department of the Environment and Resource Management and leased under trust to the Bundaberg Regional Council.
Letters to the Bundaberg Regional Council came to nothing, so a community meeting was called to ascertain what interest there was in such a venture. The Federal Member for Hinkler, Mr. Paul Neville, chaired this meeting which was attended by an unexpectedly large group of men. From this group a steering committee was elected.
We have become a member of the Australian Men’s Shed Association and are now an incorporated body. Our letter head is perhaps symbolic of what this small township of about 1,000 people is famous for. Kangaroos wander out of the national park and keep our front lawns well groomed. Tourists who come here, particularly the southerners in the winter, love to see our Eastern Greys wandering freely amongst the houses.
There are many men in the village who are looking for something to do. Many bowl at the very good local club, some play golf in Childers, some belong to the SES or the Firies, some are in them all. But the concept of a men’s shed is unique.
Most men have grown up in the Australian culture where 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 the ladies, most men are reluctant to talk about their problems and to ask for help. Men tend to drink more than women, take more risks and they suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression. Relationship difficulties, physical and mental illness are just some of the problems that men find it hard to deal with, especially of they are on their own.
The membership of the Woodgate Men’s Shed comes from all walks of life. The common bond is that they are men with time on their hands and they would like something meaningful to do.
The modern men’s shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture. Men’s sheds are an Australian development and the concept has gone world wide.
In the development of our constitution here in Woodgate, we have drafted a set of objects that we think fit our circumstances.
“The objects of the Shed are to advance the health and well-being of our members by providing a safe and happy environment where skilled and unskilled men can, in the company of other men,
a. Pursue hobbies, pastimes and interests,
b. Learn new skills, practise and pass on old skills,
c. Learn about their own and other mens’ health and well being,
d. By their efforts, contribute to their families, their friends, their Shed and their community, and
e. Mentor younger men.”
We hope that in the not too far future, if you look inside our Shed, you might see men restoring furniture, building wooden toys, fixing old machines, building some small furniture for the local primary school. If you look further you will see tea-bags, coffee cups and a comfortable area with men sitting having a yarn. There will be a small kitchen where cooking lessons could be underway, or a group having a gentle workout in the small gym. The local doctor may be giving a talk on prostate issues, or a computer class might be underway.
But all of this is in the future. We currently have 58 financial members and have begun to operate from a temporary shed located in the garage of one of our members. We have gained tremendous support from the local community and we will continue to nag away at the bureaucracy, which we have encountered at all levels of government, and build our Men’s Shed.