Based at the Don Bosco Camp at Safety Beach for the past two years, the men’s shed has provided an outlet for retired men, some of whom might otherwise have felt depressed and socially isolated.
Its 30-man membership meets at least three times a week to engage in community activities as well as socialise over coffee and trades work.
The shed’s members have been involved with community events, as well as providing wood craft activities for the Dromana Australia Day Community Breakfast, woodworking instruction to local school children, furniture restoration and cultivating a community vegetable garden.
But a “lack of compatibility” with the camp management’s aims of providing a safe and enjoyable experience for children has led to the shed being given its marching orders by the Roman Catholic insitute, Salesians of Don Bosco, based in Ascot Vale.
Business manager Damien Giddens said the men’s shed had been invited to set up at the camp by a former manager no longer employed there.
“We recently decided a review of our respective positions was required and have decided to go in a new direction,” he said.
“We found that the camp’s use by our main clients – primary and secondary schools – is incompatible with a men’s shed. We are now hearing that some of our long-standing clients are looking elsewhere and the camp’s viability is being affected.”
Camp managers met with men’s shed representatives on Friday 26 September to tell them the bad news.
“They were disappointed; we were, too,” Mr Giddens said. “When we started we did not envisage that problem arising. Also, the location is a problem – they need direct road access, yet they are right in the middle of the camp”.
“There is no other way we can site them. We have said we will scout around for them and that they can use the camp as a mail box.”
Men’s shed president Rick Plummer said it had “come as quite a shock to us that we have to pack up our equipment and quickly find a new home from which to operate”.
“To think that we are under threat of closure if we don’t find a new home quickly is extremely disheartening as this is an important social outlet for men’s health and wellbeing. This association provides an outlet where men can continue to feel they are valued within the community.
“If some of the men didn’t come here they would sit at home and be socially isolated and depressed; without a purpose in life.”
The administrator of the Don Bosco camp, Dominic Stephens, would not comment on the notice to vacate.
Now the hunt is on for a new home base – preferably larger than the present 92 square metre site. Something around 250 square metres on a long-term lease would be more suitable.
“If there is a community minded business, or local person, out there who can offer something suitable for us, we would dearly love to hear from them,” Mr Plummer said.
Anyone in the Dromana-Safety Beach area able to assist with long term or short term accommodation can call 0409 838 974.