From Horsham to Hopetoun, Dimboola to Stawell, and Warracknabeal to Woomelang – the flags are flying in the Wimmera thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers from Horsham Men’s Shed. So far the men have fashioned more than 60 sets of flag poles to enable three flags – the Australian flag, the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag – to fly in unison.
The Horsham Men’s Shed flag pole project came out of the Towards Cultural Security project run by the Wimmera Primary Care Partnership, which identified a need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be displayed at mainstream services to acknowledge Australia’s First Nation peoples.
Flying the flags is a highly visible symbol of respect and can be used to promote a sense of community, create a welcoming environment and can demonstrate a commitment towards closing the gap.
Horsham Men’s Shed coordinator Charles “Chas” McDonald, 77, said the flag pole project had sparked his interest in finding out more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, which are flying in more than 20 regional hospital campuses and health centres throughout the Wimmera and Southern Mallee as a direct result of the men’s shed project.
The flags are also flying at the Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative in Horsham, and Chas says there are still many more half-finished poles and stands waiting back at The Shed.
As a retired builder, Chas enjoys using his skills making things for community projects. “We have made a chook shed for a local school, room dividers for another school, ramps, storage shelving – all sorts of things,” he says. “I enjoy the volunteering side, of giving back to the community and I enjoy the company of the people at The Shed.”
“Men’s Sheds are good for men’s health – it keeps men off those comfortable recliners, keeps the remote out of their hands and gets them out; and that’s great for your physical and mental health.”
Men’s Sheds are safe and productive spaces for men to work on common projects, form friendships and give back to their community, with almost 1,000 sheds across the country and more than 360 in Victoria.
The Victorian Government provided nearly $900,000 in 2017 to support the construction of 13 new Men’s Sheds and the refurbishment of 10 existing sheds. Each year, the Government provides $1 million to support men’s sheds in Victoria, which includes $114,000 to the Victorian Men’s Shed Association, which has helped create and upgrade 70 sheds since November 2014.
The Victorian Government has invited Men’s Shed’s groups from across the state to apply for grants, with up to $60,000 available to build new Men’s Shed’s, and up to $30,000 to upgrade and refurbish exiting ones. Applications close on Friday 8 June, 2018. For more information visit the Men's Shed program page.