Men’s Shed Field Officer
Community organisations and Men’s Sheds have become an integral part of Latrobe Valley communities and are continuing to work with men, and at times women, assisting them to re-engage with the community and feel valued.
In September 2021, the Latrobe Health Assembly and Victorian Men’s Sheds Association (VMSA) launched the Men’s Shed Field Officer project by appointing Cameron Thomson to the role,
The Men‘s Shed Field Officer works closely with Men’s Sheds in Toongabbie, Traralgon, Traralgon South, Boolarra, Churchill, Moe, Newborough and Morwell. The Men’s Shed Field Officer project’s primary aim is to work with local men, Men’s Sheds and other men’s groups across Latrobe City to achieve healthier outcomes, both mentally and physically.
Following a detailed analysis of each of the sheds within the Latrobe Valley catchment to gain their input on their needs and wants, the Men‘s Shed Field Officer identified four focus areas. The areas identified were:
- Increasing Shed Visibility – Sheds felt that not a lot of people knew they were there or what they do and wanted help in promoting their Shed. Increasing membership could provide social connection for men in Latrobe. The Men’s Shed Field Officer aimed to raise awareness of Men’s Sheds as a resource for men in the area;
- Building Better Pathways – Some Sheds felt that they did not know how to assist someone in crisis, or what options were available. Increasing Sheds’ capacity to respond to vulnerable men could lead to better health outcomes. The Men’s Shed Field Officer planned to increase the Sheds’ understanding of the issues men may experience, and the resources and supports available in their locality;
- Improving Digital Literacy – Difficulty using technology, particularly mobile devices, was a common issue identified by shed members. Improving this could increase individual confidence and increase social connectivity for some men. The Men’s Shed Field Officer looked at building the capacity of Shed members to utilise technology;
- Encouraging Healthier Communities – There was an identified lack of community involvement for some Sheds. Increasing connection with their surrounding community could lead to increased membership opportunities for the Sheds, and improvements in social isolation for men that engage with the shed through this avenue. The Men’s Shed Field Officer would arrange community events with sheds to build a positive profile of Sheds in their local community to foster lasting community links.
Working towards these priority areas, the Men‘s Shed Field Officer has implemented several key initiatives including:
- Improving Digital Literacy sessions;
- Latrobe Valley Men‘s Shed marketing campaign;
- Creation of the Men‘s Shed Moonlight Market and Winter Festival;
- A series of Shed based drop-in health-related education sessions, custom selected based on individual Shed‘s needs.
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