Men’s Sheds save lives, says health minister 

Australia’s Men’s Shed movement is helping save older men’s lives, according to Greg Hunt MP, who last week announced $11m of new funding over the next four years.

Hunt was speaking in his role as Health Minister at the launch of the National Men’s Health Strategy (2020-2030) at the Dromana Men’s Shed, alongside Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula.

 “In life I’ve seen two groups of people who are universally happy helicopter pilots and shedders,” he said. “I’ve never met an unhappy helicopter pilot and every shed I’ve been t0 … the mood that’s created and the presence and the welcoming is exactly what the sheds are meant to do”.

Hunt acknowledged, however, that individual Shedders can face personal challenges and shared a story from one Shed he’d visited. 

“There was a fellow who was tending the garden outside there and [the president of the Shed] said: ‘You know when he came to me six months ago he could barely speak, he’d had a complete breakdown, didn’t have any family support, we were it and he was right on the edge.’ 

“Now not everything is perfect,” said Hunt. “They didn’t try to overstate it - not everything is perfect - but he is talking, he’s with us, he’s got a home it feels it’s got a friend.”

Hunt said that mental health was one of the five priority health issues that the new Men’s Health Strategy will focus on and that men’s sheds are “probably the best therapy going around because it’s not actual therapy”.

“You are out there doing things. You’re making toys, you’re making craft work, you’re doing things that are creative and supporting yourselves and supporting other people and in the process you’re bringing people into a community group.”

The funding for men’s sheds consists of the following:

  • Funding to men’s sheds through the National Shed Development Program will be continued, and increased to $1 million per year for years ($4 million over 4 years).
  • These grants enable sheds to apply for funding twice a year to assist with health and wellbeing activities and events, shed improvements and tools and equipment
  • $1.5 million to fund regional coordinators at the grassroots level in each state and territory which aims to provide direct assistance in men’s shed
  • $3.6 million to the Australian Men’s Shed Association to support Sheds at a national level
  • $2 million to equip every Men’s Shed in Australia with a portable defibrillator
  • $100,000 to establish a web-based platform ‘Men’s Shed Exchange’. This platform aims to encourage the broader shed community to contribute ideas on how to attract and retain membership and participation and how to stage regional events. The website will be hosted by Healthy Males, formerly Andrology Australia.

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