Peter Khalil: I want to acknowledge the work of the Australian Men’s Shed Association and, in particular, all the men’s sheds in my electorate of Wills. We are all familiar with men’s sheds and the good work that they do. They are community spaces modelled after the old-fashioned backyard shed, but not all men’s sheds are the same. Depending on which shed you visit, you may see a number of blokes making furniture or perhaps restoring bicycles for a local school. They could be making bird traps or fixing lawnmowers or making a cubbyhouse for Camp Quality to raffle. You often see a few young men as well, working with the older men, learning new skills and learning something about life from the men that they work with. You might also see local elders making traditional arts and crafts. You will usually see teabags and coffee cups strewn about in a comfortable area where men can just sit and talk. You will probably see an area where men can learn to cook for themselves, or even contact family members by computer.
Many men struggle to talk about their feelings and their emotions. They do not really take a serious interest in their own mental health. According to beyondblue, one in eight men will have depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. While women are statistically more likely to experience depression and anxiety, men are less likely to talk about it. Depression is a serious and common condition which will not get better by itself. But some men are still subscribing to the idea that they should just tough it out and be self-reliant in any and all circumstances. It is said that because of this, some males are known to drink more and take more risks with their health, and can suffer immensely from a lack of appropriate treatment. 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. Professor Barry Golding from Federation University, in an address to the 2007 men’s shed conference, said:
Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder.
This is the real power of the men’s shed. Your local shed provides a safe and busy environment where men can find many of these things, in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship.
In Wills, there is already an excellent men’s shed in the suburb of Glenroy. I recently met with a group of blokes from Fawkner who are working on the establishment of a men’s shed in their area. These guys have been trying to establish a Fawkner men’s shed for years. I visited them on a vacant plot of land on Lorne Street in Fawkner, and they told me all about their plans that were already underway. The first project that these guys will have is actually building the shed. I will be backing their bid to get the men’s shed up and running in Fawkner. I encourage everyone to get involved in their local men’s shed by visiting the Men’s Shed Association website for more information.