What is a Men's Shed?

The modern Men’s Shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture. Men’s Sheds are springing up all around Australia. If you looked inside one you might see a number of men restoring furniture, perhaps restoring bicycles for a local school, maybe making Mynah bird traps or fixing lawn mowers or making a kids cubby house for Camp Quality to raffle. You might also see a few young men working with the older men learning new skills and maybe also learning something about life from the men they work with. You will see tea-bags, coffee cups and a comfortable area where men can sit and talk. You will probably also see an area where men can learn to cook for themselves or they can learn how to contact their families by computer.

So what is so special about this new type of Men’s Shed? Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions. There has been little encouragement for men to take an interest in their own health and well-being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this many men are less healthy than women, they drink more, take more risks and they suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression. Relationship breakdown, retrenchment or early retirement from a job, loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the problems that men find it hard to deal with on their own.

Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community, connecting to friends and maintaining an active body and an active mind. Becoming a member of a Men’s Shed gives a man that safe and busy environment where he can find many of these things in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship. And, importantly, there is no pressure. Men can just come and have a yarn and a cuppa if that is all they’re looking for.

Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life - the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and they would like something meaningful to do with that time.

A good Men’s Shed has a co-ordinator who has both the technical and social skills to develop a safe and happy environment where men are welcome to work a project of their choice in their own time and where the only ‘must’ is to observe safe working practices. All in a spirit of mateship.

Because men don’t make a fuss about their problems, these problems have consistently been either ignored or swept under the mat by both our health system and our modern society. It’s time for a change and the Men’s Shed movement is one of the most powerful tools we have in helping men to once again become valued and valuable members of our community.

Come and see for yourself.

The number of Sheds has grown rapidly but in the early days there was no central reference source and a great deal of duplication and "wheel re-invention" occurred. In April 2007 The Australian Men's Shed Association (AMSA) was set up to act as a resource centre for all Sheds and to promote the idea of Independent Community Men's Sheds. The Association represents and promotes the Shed movement, and acts as a communications hub using this website and the regular newsletters, copies of which are archived on this site.

Definition of a Men’s Shed

Preamble

AMSA has defined a Men’s Shed for the purpose of deciding which organisations are eligible for membership of AMSA. AMSA By-Laws - Membership Version No 1

In arriving at a this definition AMSA recognises and values the diversity of reasons why men come together to share activities and common interests in the context of a Men’s Shed.  AMSA believes that Men’s Sheds should be open to all men, while recognising that provision needs to be made to admit to membership Sheds who may wish to restrict their membership to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander men for good and valid cultural reasons.

AMSA also recognises that there are valid reasons to exclude organisations which wish to benefit from the advantages of membership of AMSA, but whose real purpose is not in alignment with the Vision and the Objects of AMSA.

Definition for the purpose of admission to AMSA membership

  1. AMSA recognises as a Men’s Shed any community-based, non-profit, non-commercial organization that is accessible to all men and whose primary activity is the provision of a safe and friendly environment where men are able to work on meaningful projects at their own pace in their own time in the company of other men. A major objective is to advance the well-being and health of their male members.    

  2. Upon application, AMSA may admit to membership a Shed which conforms to the above definition in all respects except that it’s membership is restricted to male Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander members for cultural purposes.

  3. AMSA will not admit to membership any organisation which

    • has illegal aims, objectives or practices

    • is disrespectful or harmful to other people or sections of the community

    • is aimed primarily at promoting particular political or religious views or practices