Page 3566 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 12 September 2017

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workshop activities. They have received several donations of equipment, including saws, a drill press and work benches, and I look forward to them expanding their services. The men’s shed model provides valuable benefits to veterans and their families, and the government will be looking to continue our work with veterans organisations in Canberra to support our valued veterans to stay involved in their community.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (4.09): I welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter today and I particularly appreciated Ms Lawder’s opening remarks. I think she did a very good job of describing the necessity of men’s sheds, the role that they play in the community and the benefits that they deliver.

As members will know—and I am sure many of us have been to visit them—there are 10 official men’s sheds in Canberra, spread all across the city. Some cater to specific groups: one in Tuggeranong supports veterans; one in Evatt caters to model railway enthusiasts. Across Australia we have men’s sheds that support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community by providing a space to pass on cultural knowledge and yarns to their community and their kids. We even have men’s sheds that are open to women, I am told. I was actually surprised to discover that in preparing for today’s discussion. I am sure there is one out there somewhere. I cannot tell you where it is, but I do believe that that is the case.

The beauty of the men’s sheds is that they are all different. Some make furniture, some restore old cars or bicycles, some maintain the local environment and parks, some teach skills, some have talks and forums and some just provide a space with tea, coffee and a shared computer where men can relax, chat with their mates and check their emails. I think this again goes to the point that has been raised in the discussion today, which is that the activity almost does not matter; it is simply the act of coming together and doing something collectively that is actually the real strength of men’s sheds. All men’s sheds have a shared purpose: to advance the wellbeing and health of their members by providing a safe and friendly environment to work on meaningful projects at the members’ own pace, in their own time and, most importantly, in the company of others.

They are built on the idea that good health means feeling good about yourself and feeling good about your community and how you are connecting with it. We know from countless studies that if you feel socially isolated, if you do not feel like you belong somewhere and if you do not feel like you have a purpose, you are likely to feel more disconnected and to suffer the consequences that come from that, whether that is issues around mental health or physical health or a range of other issues. I think members are all familiar with this sort of research.

As Ms Lawder touched on, men often feel like they cannot ask for help. We do not feel comfortable talking about not coping, and when we are not coping we feel like we should do more. We need to do more than ask for help, and it is that solutions idea of being able to toughen up and get on with it. I guess that is the classic language

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