Understanding the Men’s Shed Movement in Australia
The modern-day Men’s Shed movement in Australia is based on the culture of the backyard shed. Traditionally, these backyard sheds have always been places where men can spend time on activities that they love.
The Men’s Shed movement takes this a step further by bringing men together across Australia and in other countries. There are many different types of Men’s Shed covering activities as diverse as fixing lawn mowers and making furniture.
The purpose behind the Men’s Shed Movement
The main aim behind the movement is to combat the issues that many Australian men (especially older men) have with loneliness.
Helping to fight loneliness is important because the issue can lead to mental health problems as well as contributing to other health concerns such as:
- Cardiovascular health and heart issues.
- Neurodegenerative diseases.
- Respiratory illnesses.
The government provides some support in areas such as mental health. However, the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA), which spearheads the movement, helps men in a more hands-on way.
AMSA was founded in 2007 when several different community-based Men’s Sheds came together. The association is funded by the Federal Department of Health. It supports more than 1,200 sheds in their aim to improve the health and well-being of all members.
The idea is to provide a place where men gather to take part in a shared activity. This helps the men to create friendships and gives them an opportunity to open up and talk about their lives and any problems they may have.
Talking in this way helps men in Australia to escape loneliness. This in turn helps to reduce the occurrence of other illnesses. Right now, more than 125,000 members get these benefits from using organisations across the country.
What makes a Men’s Shed?
Men’s Sheds are usually managed by a committee. The committee makes sure that members have a safe environment to work on projects. These projects can be to do with the community or they may be members’ own projects.
AMSA decides which organisations can be part of the association. It does not exclude organisations that include women in their activities but does expect all men to be welcome.
The main aim of the organisation should be to provide a place where men can work on projects without any pressure. The objective behind this is to help protect and improve the well-being and health of members.
AMSA also promotes member organisations in Australia and across the world. This includes the annual Men’s Shed Week which focuses on the work of Men’s Shed organisations globally.
What happens at a Men’s Shed?
There is no defined list of what activities can take place in Men’s Sheds in Australia. However, activities should have value and should be legal.
Many member organisations concentrate on community activities, such as making furniture for community centres or less privileged people within the community.
They often also provide health and well-being advice to members and teach valuable skills such as first aid and car maintenance.
Above all, the aim of any Men’s Shed is to provide a place where men can find friendship. They can gather with others and get the social interaction that they need.
Men’s Sheds are not for profit organisations. However, there may be a small cost associated with joining, to cover insurance requirements.
AMSA provides a list of Men’s Sheds, so that men across Australia can find a local project to join. They can then contact the project to find out how to join and if there are any costs.
The Men’s Shed movement continues to grow in popularity in Australia, and internationally. This can only be a good thing when it comes to the fight against loneliness and improving men’s health and overall well-being.