The dream is becoming a reality for Maffra Men’s Shed

Maffra Mens shed members Jim King, Geoff Orr, Ken Field, Peter Clark, Graham Penfold and Dennis Proud. Photo: Liz Bell

Liz Bell

IT’S been a long time coming, but it will be well worth the wait for Maffra Men’s Shed when it finally moves into a new, 850 square metre purpose-built shed on land previously home to the Maffra recreation vehicle park.

An agreement was reached with the council earlier this year to establish a home for the Maffra Men’s Shed within a new community ‘hub’ on council-managed Crown land close to the town centre.

Now the next step has been reached, with council and the state government officially signing off on the land and plans completed for a multi-roomed building that will incorporate the existing amenities block.

The hub will become home to the Maffra Men’s Shed, McMillan Rockhounds and Maffra Lions Club, and will also include a common area, barbecue area, a kitchen and store rooms.

Mr King said other community-based groups, including the Maffra Angling Club, had also expressed interest in co-sharing the facility.

The search for a suitable home has dragged on since Maffra Men’s Shed was given notice to vacate its Gippsland Water-owned home in Gibney St in mid-2020.

Maffra Men’s Shed president Jim King said it was a massive relief to have found such a suitable new site, and to finally get the paperwork signed.

Plans have already been drawn up for the new building, and shed participants are about to embark on a fundraising drive so construction can be completed by next year.

Being a permanent site within a large community hub, the facility will give the men’s shed some permanency and sense of belonging.

“A permanent site was definitely the preferred option, and so to have this finally approved is just fantastic,” Mr King said.

“It’s going to be a fabulous community hub and will become an important facility within the township.”

The new workshop will be almost twice the size of the existing Gibney St space, which will allow participants to continue the great work they do for the community in a more comfortable and spacious environment.

Mr King said Maffra Men’s Shed had cemented itself firmly in the hearts and minds of the community, and was regularly called upon to complete woodworking and metal work items for various community groups and council projects.

In the 24 months from July 2019 to June 2021, Maffra Men’s Shed completed projects with an estimated community benefit of $44,200.

It is also an important social outlet for retired men, providing a place to stay active and engaged in the community, and a place to complete their own projects if required.

Mr King said the adage, ‘women talk face-to-face but men talk shoulder-to-shoulder while they’re working on something,’ was part of the philosophy that made men’s sheds work so well.

Participant of three years, Dennis Proud, said the opportunity to be part of something that had a community focus had also given him something useful to do in retirement, and a chance to develop his woodworking and metal work skills.

Retired carpenter Peter Clark said members also benefitted from building on their social skills and learning to work as a team.

“We come here and you can work on your own projects, but we also have to work together as a team and help each other out,” he said.

The Maffra Men’s Shed has established a Go-Fund-Me page, ‘Maffra Men’s Shed Permanent Location’, to support the development of its new facility, which has an estimated cost of $350,000 to $400,000. Mr King said the shed would also apply for grants and funding via the state government’s ‘Strengthening Men’s Sheds’ program and the federal government’s ‘Building Better Regions’ program.

Local fundraising efforts that will support the project include sausage sizzles and other events. It is hoped that construction might begin by early 2022, with the bulk of the development completed by July 1, 2022.

Mr King said throughout the staged development local businesses and tradespeople would be used as much as possible.