Page 3565 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 12 September 2017

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networks of support and where they can continue to productively contribute to the community. Men’s sheds provide opportunities for men to continue to learn and to share their skills and experiences, often after they leave full-time work.

In my particular portfolio as Minister for Veterans and Seniors it is one of the areas on which I have been focusing. We know veterans can face particular challenges in transitioning to civilian life. One of the key challenges is social isolation, when they may feel others cannot relate to the experiences they have been through as veterans. So I am committed to helping to build a society where everyone belongs, where everyone is valued and where everyone has the opportunity to participate.

The men’s shed model works well to provide an avenue for veterans to remain connected with those around them and to find ways to be productive and actively engaged with the community. It enables veterans to connect with others with whom they can develop a stronger sense of camaraderie and shared understanding. It is a great example of mates helping mates.

The ACT government is working with veterans organisations to provide increased opportunities for veterans living in Canberra to get actively involved, including in the community through programs such as these. The Veterans Support Centre in Page, in my own electorate of Ginninderra, has close to 600 members. It supports veterans of all ages and provides access to a range of wood and metalworking facilities to create a men’s shed like environment where veterans can come together, work with their hands and remain connected with fellow veterans and their communities.

I was pleased to visit the centre recently. They gave me a tour of the facilities and spoke to me about the challenges that they help veterans work through and how they help veterans remain active and connected in the community. With the assistance of ACT government funding, donations of materials and labour by major industry and the work of the centre’s volunteers, the centre has established a metalwork workshop and a woodwork workshop. Veterans are able to connect with peers and teach each other new skills. Veterans can discuss issues and open up with like-minded people who can empathise with past experiences. These are important first steps to those who are seeking help and connection, as it is through discussions like this that people can then help out on where to find other support and new networks.

I am also pleased to advise members that the 2016-17 veterans and seniors participation grants round has provided funding for the establishment of a men’s shed for veterans on the south side of Canberra, similar to that available on the north side in Page. It has funded first-aid courses and equipment for the administration and setting up of the group, including laptops and a printer. Similarly, this shed provides support and social inclusion for both serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force, for their families and for like-minded individuals. It will support members’ self-worth by providing opportunities for members to contribute to activities that support each other and support the community more generally.

At present, the group is meeting at the Lake Tuggeranong sea scouts hall for its planning and social activities, and the group is also in the process of setting up a workshop in Tuggeranong Archery Club, to which it has access two days a week for

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