Speaking at the national Men in Sheds conference at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre today, Minister for Disability Services and Mental Health Curtis Pitt said the Queensland Government is proud to support the social phenomenon of men’s sheds.

Mr Pitt said Queensland now had around 60 sheds that provided a workshop and meeting place for older males.

“Men’s sheds reduce social isolation by bringing males together in the spirit of mateship in their own space to work on meaningful activities and projects,” Mr Pitt said.

“They support men’s health and well-being by offering a place for men to share their stories, support each other and enhance their skills, confidence and self-esteem.”

Mr Pitt said shed activities helped men to feel good about themselves, be productive and contribute to their local communities.

“These activities include, at various places, repairing furniture, bikes, boats and lawn mowers, making kids’ cubby houses, cooking, developing computer skills and working on wildlife projects,” he said.

“Alternatively, men can just drop in to their local shed for a chat and a cup of tea.

“Many sheds mentor young people and work in liaison with other organisations such as family support centres, the University of the Third Age (U3A) and charities.”

Mr Pitt said the number of Men’s Sheds in Australia was increasing each year.

“About 60 men’s shed organisations in Queensland are members of the Australian Men’s Shed Association,” he said.

“The growth of the men’s shed movement relates to the increasing awareness that males and females have distinct health needs and concerns.

“Concerns about the health of Australia’s males were raised in a report released in June 2011 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.”

The report shows that nearly half of Australian men have experienced a mental disorder and:

have a life expectancy about five years shorter than Australian women;
are overweight or obese in 68 per cent of cases;
generally do not eat enough fruit and vegetables;
are less likely than women to visit a GP or undergo cancer screening; and
are more likely to engage in risky behaviours such as smoking, illicit drug use, risky sexual behaviour, and interpersonal violence, particularly alcohol related violence.

Mr Pitt said men’s sheds were playing a significant role as Queensland communities recovered from the summer of natural disasters.

“One of the priorities for the state’s recovery has been to recognise and address the many psychological and psychosocial issues that natural disasters bring to the fore,” Mr Pitt said.

“I believe the network of around 60 men’s sheds in Queensland has been instrumental in helping many of the hardest hit communities to take stock and recover – and they will undoubtedly continue to play their part in the recovery process.”