JEFF Kennett has lauded Men’s Sheds as one of the most important initiatives in men’s mental health of the 21st century.
The beyondblue chairman and former Victorian premier yesterday addressed the Australian Men’s Shed Association national conference held in Ballarat.
About 340 registered attendees listened to the key note address from Mr Kennett, who spoke in support of Men’s Sheds and the positive impact on male health and well-being.
Mr Kennett said there had been a big turnaround in recent years of men seeking help when they were having problems.
“Not that long ago no-one was talking about men’s health. Men were ashamed to do it, we kept it to ourselves,” he said.
“We became more stressed, we became more anxious. Two-thirds of all suicides are undertaken by men.”
He credited Men’s Sheds with helping prompt more men to speak out about what was happening in their lives.
“I think the coming together of Men’s Sheds is probably the most profound initiative that has taken place so far this century, in terms of men’s mental health,” he said.
In his opening address, Australian Men’s Shed Association executive officer David Helmers said the organisation was lobbying for government and corporate funds.
Mr Kennett said he believed the new federal government would provide funding to help secure the organisation’s future.
“Woe betide any government who fails to understand the essence of what Men’s Sheds is all about,” he said.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson said Men’s Sheds were having a positive impact on those who served in the Vietnam and Korean wars.
“I’m a very passionate supporter of Men’s Sheds. I think it’s the health aspect which is just as important as the camaraderie,” he said.