Being the community Independent for Goldstein has given me the most wonderful opportunities to meet with the many fabulous community organisations in my electorate. One that many of us will be aware of is the Australian Men’s Shed group, which visited the parliament last week to mark 30 years of sheds.
The modern men’s shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that’s long been a part of Australian culture. It’s a place where men from all walks of life meet, sometimes for a cuppa, always for company, and where they can use their skills to support their community and one another and to learn new skills. Sheds help improve men’s health and social connections and do wonderful work. I’ve recently had the absolute pleasure of connecting with two men’s sheds in Goldstein—Bayside Men’s Shed in Beaumaris and Brighton Men’s Shed just down the road from my electorate office.
Members of the two sheds have very kindly created props for me to use when I visit schools to deliver mock parliaments. The Parliamentary Education Office is an incredible asset for MPs and my team, and I often use many of their resources. For example, the office provides templates for items found in the chamber like the Speaker’s mace and the dispatch box. Brighton Men’s Shed created a beautiful dispatch box from the template, and in July I was welcomed for morning tea as they presented me with the timber box. It was a morning of great discussion and connection, and I thank all the men for such a warm visit.
Bayside Men’s Shed produced a beautiful replica of the Speaker’s mace, and I was honoured to be invited to speak as their guest last month and enjoyed meeting members over a barbecue lunch. They are a wonderful group of caring men engaged with their community, and I thank them immensely for the hospitality shown to me and Lerna from my team. Both these props were recently used in two Goldstein youth forums—one with grade 6 students from schools across Goldstein and the second in the Victorian Legislative Assembly for year 10 students. It was great fun to be walked into the chamber acting as Speaker, with my electorate officer, Lerna, brandishing our own Speaker’s mace as the Serjeant-at-Arms—an experience made all the better for all involved.