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The Men’s Shed movement creates heroes in every community

The Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) distills the central aim Men’s Shed movement as providing “men with time on their hands something meaningful to do with that time.” This is a neat central premise but, as AMSA details, the attendant benefits are many.

Don Rothnie, Secretary of the Menai Men’s Shed and IMB Bank Community Foundation 20th Anniversary Community Hero, joined the Menai Men’s shed in 2015 to complete the restoration of a century-old farm wagon for the Sutherland Shire Historical Society. He provides a window to the deeper benefits of Men’s Sheds. “The Shed is a community in itself,” says Mr Rothnie, “giving camaraderie to its members whilst at the same time fulfilling tasks for those in the public arena.”

Community works and engagement gives members creative outlets and benefits the communities around them. Everything from furniture to school playground equipment to cubby houses and antique or traditional tools is lovingly crafted and restored, then supplied to the community.

“At Menai, we are constructing dry land bridges, pirate boats, possum boxes and sandpits for schools and childcare facilities as well as repairs to furniture and the construction of workbenches,” says Mr Rothnie.

This simple act, of coming together with a common purpose, gives the Men’s Shed members the opportunity to discuss the pressures and joys of life in a comfortable environment and welcoming atmosphere, enriching their lives and providing a tangible connection to their peers and communities. “It’s a good group of people, sociable and great to get along with. You can come up and do your own work or pitch into the projects we are working on,” says Mr Rothnie, adding, “It’s very worthwhile.”

The combination of fraternity and philanthropy is a great success – and it’s growing. Today, there are over 1000 Men’s Sheds in Australia, with more than 150,000 members registered with AMSA, which provides insurance, support and guidance to the network. This Australian initiative has branched out into several other countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. Menai now has 105 members and has forged a cooperative relationship with the Country Women’s Association – or CWA – to create meaningful change in the wake of the drought in Australia. 

The IMB Bank Community Foundation has provided grants to several Men’s Sheds since 1999, including funds for a drill press for the Bowral Men’s Shed in 2019. The ICF funding has improved the facilities and capacity of the Menai Men’s Shed, the construction and the acquisition of power tools.

For Don Rothnie, the ICF grants have unlocked the potential of the Menai Men’s Shed and is the kind of seed funding that creates a growing, thriving community. “Communities need the support from all levels of government,” he says, “an approachable management in the community body and ongoing recognition of the work volunteers do.”

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Helping build and strengthen our local communities since 1999

As a mutual bank, supporting our local communities is important to us. We believe in supporting projects that foster inclusion, encourage volunteering and create sustainable outcomes, enabling the communities around us to thrive.

Over the last 20 years, The IMB Bank Community Foundation has invested over $10 million to support over 700 community projects. We’re very proud of the projects we’ve supported and each year we marvel at the wonderful achievements of our funding recipients.

These diverse and meaningful grassroots programs are found wherever IMB Bank operates — Sydney, The Hunter, The Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Far South Coast NSW.

Previous funding recipients

Farmborough Heights Rural Fire Brigade

A thermal imaging camera will enable The Farmborough Heights Rural Fire Brigade’s volunteer members to fully interpret a fire scene providing accurate situational awareness both day and night. It will also assist in search and rescue operations at any time and in any light conditions.

Giralang/Kaleen Men's Shed

The Giralang/Kaleen Men's Shed offers all men access to a range of activities including a woodworking workshop, garden, physical activity such as walking, and social interaction. Members will be trained in first aid to support shed members if needed.

Girl Guides Association of NSW

Building on a century of adventure, fun and friendship, Girl Guides empowers girls and young women to grow into confident, self-respecting, responsible community members. The project will allow Girl Guides to offer abseiling, high ropes and rock-climbing experiences in the local region providing opportunities for the girls to grow, learn and have fun in the outdoors.

See all recipients


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Established in 1880, we have been helping people achieve their financial goals for 140 years and are rated by Forbes as one of the World’s Best Banks. We offer a full range of competitive banking, including home and personal lending, savings and transaction accounts, term deposits, business banking, and can arrange financial planning, insurance and travel products.

We provide simple and secure digital banking solutions online and on mobile, and members enjoy access to free automated phone and internet banking, and a team of professionals at our locally based contact centre. With a growing branch network throughout the Illawarra, Sydney, NSW South Coast, Newcastle/Hunter, the ACT and Melbourne, we have a lending specialist in every branch and a team of mobile lending specialists who will come to you.

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