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Kennett opens Tatura Men's Shed

Well more than the expected 100 people attended the official opening of Tatura Men’s Shed last Tuesday by chair of beyondblue Jeff Kennett.

BOB NICOL December 10, 2013 2:00pm

Jeff Kennett, who was joined by Allan Johnston, unveiled a plaque to officially open Tatura Men’s Shed last Tuesday.


The ceremony was attended by a number of Greater Shepparton City councillors and staff, including mayor Jenny Houlihan, Tatura shed members and partners, members of surrounding Men’s Sheds, Men’s Shed Association of Victoria president Paul Sladdin and other invited guests.

While the guest of honour was a little late arriving, something he is noted for according to a number of people spoken to, this did not deter those present from enjoying a wonderful morning tea of scones, cakes, tea and coffee, which was followed, after the ceremony, by an equally enjoyable lunch put on by ‘‘the women with the help of some of the men’’.

Mr Kennett was welcomed to Tatura by Men’s Shed member Tom Perry, before handing over to president Allan Johnston, who like Mr Kennett, made a quick trip from Melbourne after arriving earlier at Tullamarine from New Zealand.

Mr Perry said the official opening of Tatura Men’s Shed was terrific for everyone in the community and paid tribute to Mr Johnston for his inspiration for the project, in what has been a ‘‘rapid journey’’.

In what Mr Kennett described as ‘‘a place for social engagement’’, he said Men’s Sheds provided important benefits for the local community, and thanked the committee for contributing to the Tatura community and that of Greater Shepparton.

Having visited many Men’s Sheds as president of beyondblue, Mr Kennett was extremely taken with the Tatura shed.

‘‘When travelling up from Melbourne this morning, I was wondering what to expect,’’ he said. ‘‘This is the Taj Mahal of Men’s Sheds — it is incredible.’’

Prior to officially opening the shed, Mr Kennett made mention of some of the worthwhile projects the men were undertaking, including cooking.

‘‘Men learning to cook is so wonderful. When my wife (Felicity) is away, I live on boiled eggs and Paddle Pops,’’ he said.

Mr Kennett said the concept for a community-based Men’s Shed for men was equivalent to the Country Women’s Association for women.

‘‘Both offer broader support in the community and provide an outlet for stress relief,’’ he said.

Mr Kennett said it was a pleasure to be back in Tatura, before removing the cover from a special stone and plaque to declare Tatura Men’s Shed open.

Mr Kennett presented the Men’s Shed Committee with an Internet access package valued at $1000, which was donated by beyondblue and Telstra.

This will be used to teach members (who do not already know) how to use the internet and send emails.

Earlier in proceedings, Mr Johnston gave a brief run-down of the shed’s history and what had been achieved since it was first discussed in 2011.

He acknowledged the community support along the way, and in particular, support by Greater Shepparton City Council which contributed significantly to the project.

‘‘The committee has been wonderful in making this happen, and the community support has been amazing throughout the development of this project,’’ he said.

Mr Johnston said he saw the future of Tatura Men’s Shed as a service group, similar to others in the community, before thanking everyone for coming to the opening.

Mr Sladdin told the Guardian ‘‘It seems like only yesterday that we all attended that first meeting’’.

He congratulated the committee on its achievement in such a short time, and the community for getting the shed up and running.

‘‘It is a testament to the Tatura community. That’s what it is all about,’’ he said.

Cr Houlihan was equally impressed.

‘‘I am proud to be here for the opening, and I acknowledge the work done by Allan (Johnston) and his committee,’’ she said.

‘‘One of council’s best results has been the success of Tatura Men’s Shed.’’

The shed’s history

The idea behind a Men’s Shed for Tatura was first discussed in early 2011 when Tatura Community House received a grant to conduct research into men’s learning in the town.

The outcome of the survey indicated the need of a public facility in the area that catered for men’s learning and socialisation.

This prompted Tatura Community House to float the idea to auspice a Men’s Shed.

On September 20, 2011, a public meeting was called, which saw president of Victorian Men’s Shed Association Paul Sladdin attend and outline to more than 50 people who attended, the aims and objectives of the Men’s Shed Association movement.

From there, it snowballed, and after a suitable meeting place was found (the Quarter Horse and Western Riding Association Clubrooms at Tatura Racetrack), the project went ahead in leaps and bounds with more members coming on board.

The next step was to put up a work shed on the site.

Submissions for funding grants were made in July 2012 and eventually a $30 000 grant was received from DHS along with a matching grant totalling $69 000 from Greater Shepparton City Council.

This money, along with serious fundraising, allowed the Men’s Shed committee to build an 18 m x 12 m Colorbond workshop extension to the existing building, thus creating a modern working environment for all members.

The Men’s Shed has received significant donations of woodworking equipment, screen printing, work benches, brand-new tools and much more from a generous and supportive community and corporates.

And it is not all about making and building things at Tatura Men’s Shed. It also runs a successful ‘Men in the Kitchen’ program which allows members to enhance their culinary skills.

The Men’s Shed is also about men’s health and Mr Johnston said becoming a member of a Men’s Shed gives a man that safe and busy environment where he can work, enjoy a chat or relax in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship.

‘‘Men can just come and have a yarn and a cuppa if that is all they are looking for. Importantly, there is no pressure,’’ he said.

‘‘We now feel we are an integral part of the Tatura community, ready to support and instigate projects that support the Men’s Shed concept and the community.’’

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