Sunnybank Men's Shed gets veterans talking

Sunnybank Men's Shed

Matilda Dray 01 May 2019

Men's Shed gets veterans talking and combats social isolation

Join a Men's Shed 

Sunnybank Men’s Shed is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and is located on Hillcrest Street in Sunnybank. Find out more information about the Sunnybank Men's Shed or find a shed in your area.


Building Purpose

In giving men a place and reason to come together, the introduction of Men’s Sheds has been a huge step forward in combatting the social isolation that many men experience when they are no longer in professional employment.

They come from all different walks of life – some men are ex-Defence, others are retired lawyers, school teachers or office workers – but what they all have in common is a desire for camaraderie and helping others. Sunnybank Men’s Shed is the perfect place for them to be productive, help the community, connect with friends and maintain an active body and mind.

The Sunnybank Men’s Shed was established in 2012 by Sunnybank RSL Sub Branch, with assistance from Sunnybank Uniting Church and grants from various organisations. Its membership has grown from around 25 men to over 70 and includes 15 veterans.


“The aim of the Men’s Shed is to get men out of the house and stop sitting around watching television all day annoying their partners,” Sunnybank Men’s Shed Chairman Des Broom said.

“We’ve got a couple of guys who have suffered from severe depression in the past and it has helped them tremendously.”
The organisation’s motto is to provide a space for men to talk with each other ‘shoulder to shoulder’. This could be next to each other at the work bench or over a cup of coffee at morning tea.

Des served as an aircraft engine fitter in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1959 to 1979, with postings all around Australia and a stint in the United States. After discharge, he worked as a manual arts teacher, a combination that provided the ideal background for establishing a Med’s Shed.

Des encourages other veterans who may be struggling after leaving Defence to join him at Sunnybank or one of nearly 1000 Men’s Shed groups around Australia. He said it offers a great alternative to sport, which not all veterans are physically capable of.


“Some ex-servicemen might have been labourers, carpenters or brickies. The Men’s Shed enables them to use their hands and their brains to produce artefacts that are suitable for the community,” Des said.

The Sunnybank group has made outdoor tables and chairs for Autism Australia, technical aids for people with disabilities and train sets and rocking horses for the Red Cross or Meals on Wheels to raffle off.

“I know I get a lot of satisfaction whenever I make something for the community,” Des said.

The group originally started in a small nine by six metre shed on the grounds of the Uniting Church and over the years has expanded considerably, thanks to grants and their own fundraising efforts.  There is also a community garden on the church grounds, which is mostly tended to by shed members. Together with fruits and vegetables, the garden grows herbs for Meals on Wheels.

Sunnybank Men's Shed gets veterans talking



Vietnam veteran Bruce Turnbull – one of the shed’s founding members – went through a fairly dark period after undergoing major surgery in 2013.

“Coming back to the shed and talking about it with people improved my own dark spaces. I found there were other people who had been through this before and could enlighten me,” Bruce said.

If someone doesn’t visit the shed for a while, other members will reach out to check on them.

“We get in touch with them and encourage them to come back. When they do come back, their spirits are lifted.”

Bruce served in the Army for 24 years as both a medic and an operating theatre technician in Vietnam and Singapore. He has also held the positions of President and Membership Services for Sunnybank RSL Sub Branch.


“I find the friendships formed in the shed very similar to the mateship formed by Defence members on active service,” Bruce said.
He finds the shed preferable to the trap of drinking that some veterans fall into. “The Australian culture of men – in years gone by – was to sit at the bar talking and drinking.

“The shed gives people mateship, a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging in the community. Each shed is set up as an independent organisation and they get ownership of it. It’s run by the men, for the men.”

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