The Men’s Shed Movement
Firstly, a snapshot of the Men’s Shed movement
The first men’s shed (by that name) was opened in Tongala, in July 1998 (Wikipedia)
In 2007 the Victorian Men’s Shed Association was setup to represent the 38 sheds at that time. It was the first such body in the world.
There are now more than 325 sheds in Victoria and 1000 around Australia.
And sheds are becoming popular in other parts of the world. There are 119 sheds in New Zealand, 1000 in the UK and Ireland, and the numbers are growing in many European counties.
Interestingly there are only a dozen or so in the United States and double that number in Canada.
Safety Beach-Dromana Men's Shed
Some of our members taken at the 2018 Shedders Big Day Out sponsored by the Australian Men’s Shed and hosted by Safety Beach-Dromana Men’s Shed in September 2018
What are Men’s Sheds about ?
Essentially, we think most Sheds are about mateship.
For some of the guys its more about the physical stuff – making and mending things in the workshop.
But more fundamental is the
- Sharing of interests and life experiences,
- showing something you’ve done or asking how to do it.
- It’s about friendship and support – looking out for one another
and of course,
- community service
History of the Safety Beach-Dromana Men’s Shed
In June 2012 John Rossato, then manager of Don Bosco youth camp in Safety Beach, organised an expo of the Southern Peninsula Men’s Shed cluster at the camp. At that event a commitee was formed to establish a men’s shed at the camp. The Safety Beach-Dromana Mens Shed was opened later that year. It had 12 members and operated from a 2 car garage of approx 100 sq mtrs.
The shed, as provided, was in a poor state of repair and it took lots of work to clean it up, rewire the electrics and organise suitable equipment for a basic workshop. The members later built a lunch room and meeting space.
But it wasn't to last long !
In September 2014 the hierarchy of the Salesians of Don Bosco, owners of the camp, decided that it was inappropriate to have older men at the site of their youth camp for boys, and gave us notice to find a new home.
This was our home during 2015 and 2016
The Shed was relocated to a residential garage in Dromana thanks to a generous local resident, and this became home for the Safety Beach Dromana Men’s Shed for more than 2 years.
Rick Plummer, our president at that time, led the charge in discussions with Mornington Peninsula Shire and in May 2015 the Shire offered us a vacant site on the recreation reserve at the top of Pier Street.
And like the proverbial shed in the backyard, It’s ironic that the our shed is located behind the dog park.
Major contributors to the building fund
Our members raised almost half the $165,000 cost from numerous BBQ’s, a garage sale, phone book distribution, raffles as well as canvassing donations in the community.
Major contributors to our building fund were:
The Mornington Peninsula Shire
Department of Infrastructure
Australian Men’s Shed Association
The Lions, Lionesses, Lions International Clubs
Bendigo Community Bank (Rye and District Financial Services)
The new shed was completed mid 2017 and opened by Councillor Celi and Greg Hunt in October of that year.
When the new shed opened the membership was about 35. By mid 2019 it had doubled to 70, and we expect the membership to grow further as we expand the Shed and its activities.
Membership of the shed is open to all men living in the area but we tend to attract men approaching and beyond retirement age.
The annual subscription is currently $40 which hasn’t changed for years. Members also put in $2 each day to help with the cost of consumables. New members are provided with a t-shirt and badge at a cost of $50.
The shed is open by 9:00am Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays until mid-day.
It’s open every week of the year except for the Easter and Christmas holidays.
What do we do in the shed?
The workshop is very well equipped with work benches, hand and power tools and larger machinery to handle all kinds of jobs in wood and metal.
There’s are all sorts of things made with wood – toys, furniture, chopping and bread boards, picture framing, clocks etc
Wood turning is also popular – members make wooden and plastic pens, bowls, utensils (spurtles, stirrers, rolling pins); even a walking stick and hickory shaft golf club,
Also Welding, metal machining, and painting of all manner of things
We often get requests to make or mend things, generally with a donation to cover costs and something for the Shed. It depends on what it is and who it’s for.
Recently we had a request from the Foreshore committee to rebuild picnic tables and seats when they need repair or replacement. The Ranger provides us with the materials and the members remake the tables and seats ready for installation.
Another project was for the local Golf Club; to make bench seats and litter bin holders that are installed around the course.
We have also made metal rakes used for the collecting the bowls for locals bowls clubs
Each year the Shed supplies hundreds of cutouts of animal shapes for painting by the children on Australia Day. These are done on one of our band saws.
Much of the work consists of private jobs or projects of the members
Some are furnishings or improvements for the Shed
Others are for community organisations and not for profits.
But we do try to avoid taking on projects that would compete with local trades
The latest project we are about to embark on is the repair of push bikes, some of which will be used by the members and others donated or sold in the local community.
For this we are grateful to Vins Bins, which company is a financial sponsor of the Shed. Vins are collecting bikes for us in the course of their operation. They have recently delivered the first batch in a bin containing 29 bikes of all types and in various states of repair.
When the Shed reopens members will set about cannibalising some of the bikes for repair and clean-up of those that can be readily restored.
Later in the year we hope to set up a group for a weekly bike ride along the foreshore.
Away from the Shed
From time to time we have outings away from the shed. We’ve visited:
A motorcycle display
Mornington Vintage Railway,
In September 2018, and again in 2019 our Shed was asked by the Australian Men’s Shed Association to host the Shedders Big Day Out, being the launch of Men’s Shed week in Victoria. We had more than 300 visitors from Sheds all over Melbourne and beyond. At the 2019 event we had the full Welsh Male Choir perform for us in the workshop. It was amazing.
The boys always get together for morning tea and there are lots of laughs around the table and views are often expressed with typically Australian eloquence.
Each Wednesday our President updates members on any news and announcements.
We also have a monthly lunch, usually prepared or cooked in the shed. The lunch is well supported, costing $5 or $6 for 2 courses. Its strictly BYO for those who want a drop with lunch.
On the management side, we have a committee of 9 including an executive of 3 (President, VP, and Secretary / Treasurer), together with 6 general committee members.
The Committee usually meets on the second Wednesday of each month.
We are blessed to have more than enough capable contributors who want to play a part in the management of the Shed by offering themselves for committee roles.
The safety and well-being of all members and visitors is the primary concern of all members and must never be taken lightly. A breach of this policy may result in your membership being terminated.
Your own safety and the safety of others is principally each member’s responsibility.
New members are asked to indicate their experience and capabilities in the use power tools and equipment in the shed. All members are requested to get help with equipment that they are unfamiliar with.
For this purpose, we have a group called the “workshop leaders”. These are members who are our most experienced and skilled in each area of the Shed’s operation. They are on hand to help members where needed. This includes:
- Power tools and saws
- Metal work and welding, and
- Computers, smart devices, and other electronics
For the safety of everyone we encourage members to ask for help when using equipment that they are not confident with.
Instruction on CPR
Despite a little friction with the bureaucracy in council from time to time, the Shire has been very supportive of the Men’s Sheds on the Peninsula. Without that support we would not be where we are today. Literally.
The Federal Government through our local member Greg Hunt has also been consistently supportive and we are lucky to have as our local member, a Federal Minister who is passionate about mental health and the positive contribution of Men’s Shed in this area.
We are also very fortunate to have the financial support of a number of community minded local businesses who contribute mainly in cash but also in kind. Some businesses donate produce or services that we can turn into money with raffles, like the meat trays from Cliffex Meats that we raffle every month.
In the early years of the Shed, the Bunnings BBQ was the foundation of our finances and hugely important to our building program. But those BBQ “slots” are much harder to come by nowadays and with Covid social distancing we are unlikely to see the Bunnings BBQ’s for the next 12 months or so. And that will leave a big hole in our fundraising.
These are some of our loyal and generous sponsors and donors
Extension of the Shed
Last year it was decided to extend the shed building to accommodate increasing membership numbers and to provide the space required for new activities and for storage.
The extension will give us an additional 100 Sq Mtrs of additional floor space. It will cost around $45,000 of which we currently have half set aside.
In August 2020 we received a grant from the Federal Government of $7,000 to equip a new exercise and fitness area that we plan to locate within the extension. But first we need to fund the extension!
Sadly we were unsuccessful in getting the necessary funds under the Victorian Govt “Pick my Project” program. And this year’s State grant scheme has been postponed until at least October 2020.
But in all this we are not under pressure and are confident that we’ll find the funds for the extension in the next 12 months or so. After all, look what the members have achieved to date.