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Heading Back to the Shed

Publish Date: 19 November 2020

The doors are open and we’re ready for business!

Buloke Men’s Sheds are picking up the tools and re-starting the conversations as re-openings gather pace following the COVID-19 closures.

Charlton John Minogue

Pictured: John Minogue at the Charlton Men's Shed

A bastion for men of all ages, the iconic “shed” has been the male domain where things are fixed, made, skills learnt and the problems of the world dissected.

A safe place for connecting and sharing, the recent green light for re-opening has made a world of difference for the many local men who rely on companionship through this outlet.

Across Buloke representatives from each of the region’s five sheds have indicated the eagerness of their members to get back on board and spend time doing what they enjoy, along with re-engaging with their mates.

“They have been chomping at the bit” said Donald Secretary, Ray Walker, while Wycheproof President, John Driscoll said the refrain was “When can we open?”

Nurturing self-esteem, purposeful engagement, social contact and information sharing about men’s health issues, the “Shed” offers a positive environment for engagement on many levels.

As the saws and hammers kick back into action, members revealed how innovation kept the connections up during the months of lockdown.

At Donald, the “shedders” kept in touch with morning conference calls three times a week, while Sea Lake ran socially distanced morning tea sessions in the park.

“For many it’s often a case of just calling in for a cuppa and conversation” said Donald’s Ray Walker.

For others it’s a place where they can “confide, let off steam, gob-off, and they have that network for release” said Geoff McGuigan, Secretary of the Sea Lake Shed.

From supporting those with health issues, to offering a friendly ear, it can make a world of difference for the vulnerable.

Bonding over bolts and bandsaws is one thing, but community outreach is another important aspect of the Men’s Shed movement.

“It provides men with a task” said Geoff McGuigan. “It builds self-worth, especially for those who have recently retired.”

Community involvement was prominent across all the Buloke outlets, ranging from supplying a service (Donald assists with the showjumps at the local Show) to undertaking a project. These have included preparing kindling for the elderly, creating portable raised garden beds for Wirrim Lodge, specialised refurbishment work (Sea Lake contributed to the town’s Royal Hotel restoration) while Charlton is currently preparing Christmas trees for the local Neighbourhood House festivities.

Individual projects are also welcomed, and while some sheds tend to work on site, others move around to lend a hand.

Sharing their skill-sets, as their fathers and grandfathers did before them, the diverse mix of talents means knowledge is kept alive and others can learn, no matter what their age.

“I like to call this Google Men’s Shed” said Birchip Secretary, Jamie Buteux. “If there’s something you need to know – ask. There’s a wealth of knowledge available.”

As the doors re-open and the regulars return, Buloke is encouraging men to drop into their local outlet and say “g’day”.

Buloke CEO, Anthony Judd said the valuable outcomes for men in joining a local Men’s Shed cannot be over-estimated.

“Recognising men’s vulnerabilities and ensuring support and positive outcomes through the bond of mateship, shared interests and health awareness is important in building resilience, especially across our farming communities.

“With Buloke’s local sheds operating again, I would encourage men to go along and see for themselves the opportunities on offer.”

Buloke Men’s Sheds contact details:     

  • Birchip – Jamie Buteux – 0421 247 405
  • Charlton – Kevin Willey – 0428 911 830
  • Donald – Ray Walker – 0417 587 450
  • Sea Lake – Geoff McGuigan – 0487 948 795
  • Wycheproof – John Driscoll – 0408 584 016

End release 
For further information contact Manager Customer Engagement, Travis Fitzgibbon on 03 5478 0181 or tfitzgibbon@buloke.vic.gov.au