Page 909 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 April 2014

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On several occasions, the group has invited me to visit them so I could see the progress that was being made from the early days through to the recent official opening. Through these visits I learned how the men’s shed movement in Belconnen is making a significant difference for men.

There were some heartbreaking stories that were told at the opening by people who know of suicide by men, who battle with isolation, loneliness and depression, and whose lives could have been saved had there been such a facility as a men’s shed where they were. But I also heard some very positive stories that reassured me that the shed was already making a big difference to men in the Belconnen area, turning lives of isolation around and building relationships.

I must say that I have been very privileged these last few years to follow the journey of the men’s sheds’ development, both at a personal level and as a local member. This group of Canberrans has shown with their spirited determination that a small group of people can make a difference in our community. It is really pleasing to see the Belconnen Community Men’s Shed now taking its next steps in its evolving journey.

I congratulate Gordon Cooper, the Men’s Shed manager, Mark Quilligan, the shed’s secretary, and Dean Wishart for a successful and well-attended event. The official opening was a great success. I believe that the rain could not dampen the enthusiasm and the warmth of the atmosphere of the day. I also thank all volunteers, community groups, private companies and everyone else who contributed in one way or another to make the Belconnen Community Men’s Shed the success it is today.

Finally, thanks to all the women who came along with their partners to find out why it was that their men loved being there, as well as lending their support on the day. And of course I should not finish without thanking Alan Tongue, who lends his support to many community initiatives since retiring as a playing member of the Raiders.

Basketball Australia

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (6.34): I was deeply saddened this morning to read that WNBL player Abby Bishop would be unable to represent her country as an Australian Opal at this year’s world championship due to the lack of funding support from Basketball Australia. I think many Canberrans have been touched by the story of this 25-year-old elite athlete who has, for what I am very sure are compelling reasons, taken on the care of her sister’s seven-month-old daughter. As a single mother myself, I have some understanding of the challenges that she is facing.

As a Capitals fan, I have spent several seasons barracking for Abby Bishop, and I think it is a great pity that such a fine player and hard-working young woman would be denied the opportunity to represent her country. I know there are stresses on the finances of sporting organisations, especially in women’s sport, but the outcome in this case is just plain wrong. Tomorrow night I am going to the opening of the nationals under-18 and under-20 championships. It breaks my heart to see that many of the fine young athletes that I will be watching will have their sporting careers limited by a lack of funding.

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