The 55 members of the Sebastopol Mens Shed, led by President Les Shimmin, celebrated the official opening of their new premises at 201 Vickers Street on Friday 12 March, when Buninyong State Member of Parliament, Michaela Settle, unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of a wide range of people, including several high profile community leaders.
The Shed had originally been established in an old joinery in Yarrowee Street, but members had a dream of eventually moving into their own new purpose-built building.
As President Les said, “The challenges of making such a move were enormous, but that didn’t deter us in our efforts to make the dream a reality.
“Thanks to the generous support of many, including our State and Federal MPs, the Council, and Ballarat Community Health, things started to happen. The whole process probably took several years, but it was worth every day!”
Old squash courts in Vickers Street had become run down, and were beyond repair. Consequently, after extensive and prolonged negotiations, an arrangement was made for a new Shed specially designed to meet the needs of Shed members, to be commissioned for construction where the old courts stood.
From its inception, the Shed has been sponsored by Ballarat Community Health, and CEO Sean Duffy was delighted to be Master of Ceremonies for the big day.
“Ballarat Community Health has seen so much public good develop as a consequence of the presence of the Sebastopol Men’s Shed. It has been an honour to be associated with it,” he said.
The Shed proudly displays three large aboriginal dot paintings representing the local area. One of the painters, Elder Bert Fagan, of the Wadawurrung tribe, conducted the Welcome to Country with dignity and pride. OR Auntie Bonnie Chew, a traditional owner of the Wadawurrung tribe and also a consultant for the actual mural project, conducted the Welcome to Country.
The Shed has always enjoyed strong support from local Parliamentarians.
Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King MP, spoke at the opening, adding her ongoing support to the project which she holds in high regard. “We see that Mens Sheds clearly provide a wonderful service to many of the disadvantaged men in our society, and I couldn’t be prouder of what has been achieved here at Sebastopol,” she said.
Ms Michaela Settle, MLA for Buninyong, explained that the State Government continues to have a strong commitment to the Mens Shed movement. “It has been my great pleasure to work closely with the Sebastopol Mens Shed and see how they are making such a significant contribution to the local community in meeting the needs of so many men,” she said.
Michaela Settle stated how satisfying it was to see the members finally moving into their new premises. “I look forward to seeing even more progress as they become more established here in Vickers Street,” she said.
A jubilant crowd of people showed their enthusiasm as Ms Settle unveiled the commemorative plaque, which will hang in perpetuity inside the shed in a prominent position.
Any men who would like to visit and inspect the new Shed are most welcome to do so. Just call the shed on 03 5379 9256 or email us at [email protected]