RURAL Victoria has one of the highest concentrations of community men’s sheds in the world, which is why this year’s national conference is being held in Ballarat later this month.
Between 450 and 600 ‘shedders’ are expected to attend the October 27 and 28 conference from every Australian state, as well as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The host this year is the Ballarat East Community Men’s Shed, an independent chapter which was established in 2006.
“In terms of men’s sheds, that’s quite old,” explains University of Ballarat lecturer Dr Barry Golding, who has written a book about the benefits of men’s sheds.
“Community men’s sheds as an initiative has only been around for about 15 years.”
Thought to have been started by Vietnam veterans in the 1980s, the Australian Community Men’s Sheds Organisation is now the fastest growing representative men’s group in the country, with the number of men’s sheds doubling every two years.
There is now at least one shed in almost every sizeable town in Australia, with another 300 in New-Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands.
Ballarat East Community Men’s Shed president Doug Jenkins says that most sheds tend to work in isolation because of their autonomous nature, which is why the conference is so important.
“Often issues that clubs may have, such as maintaining safety standards, increasing community involvement, encouraging volunteers or coming up with ideas for activities are problems that have already been experienced and solved by other sheds,” Mr Jenkins said.
In addition to several keynote speakers, the conference will feature workshops focusing on management issues, keeping up with costs and dealing with the health and well-being of people with differing needs.
The public can attend the event, most of which will be held at the Ballarat Lodge and Convention Centre.
For more information visit the conference website, http://www.dcconferences.com.au/mensshed2013/index.asp