The Brunswick Men’s Shed has more than a good reason to be smiling after winning the Shire of Harvey Active Citizenship Award for Groups as part of the 2023 Australia Day awards. The win is still sinking in for the organisation, which has only been operational for the past two years and has about 45 members. “Considering the length of time we have been functioning, it’s pretty astounding,” vice president Chris Rutter said. Although the group officially started in 2016, it was not until December 2020 that a shed officially opened after receiving nearly $200,000 in funding for a facility from Lotterywest, Alcoa and the Shire of Harvey. “It was a community effort, that is what it boils down to,” president Eric Browne said. Since then, the shed has worked on helping improve the health and wellbeing of its members. Early last year, the shed ran an initiative which attracted more than 100 people from both Perth and the South West to listen to experts on all aspects of men’s health. Mr Browne described it as the “bottom line” of all men’s sheds. “If you can’t talk about it, you can’t get anywhere,” he said. “Some of the guys ... will sit here and talk all the time if you let them.” The shed also allows members to keep themselves on the tools, even if they no longer have access to a personal shed due to downsizing. It has sought to give back to the community in more ways than one, producing items for Brunswick Junction Primary School and creating purple chairs to highlight family and domestic violence. One of its more significant projects, created by William Bufton and Louie Zampogna, is a “reflection chair” set to be installed at the Brunswick Junction War Memorial in coming weeks. The chair is made out of century-old wood salvaged from the old stables which used to sit on the Brunswick Showgrounds site. Perhaps the biggest change to the group over the past two years has been the introduction of a significant female membership. Secretary Kate Bufton said she had noticed a big demand on social media for women wanting to join a shed, with the group holding an open day in July last year to gauge interest. She said there was a variety of women using the shed, including those who had become widowed, separated or have partners doing FIFO, those who enjoyed woodwork at school and some who just want to get away from their children. “We’ve got some of the blokes that help, and I think they enjoy being able to pass on their knowledge to the ladies,” she said. “It is about bringing in a different aspect to the shed that helps keep the shed going, but it’s also part of that community side of the movement.” Its contributions to the community have paid off not just with the award, but with the Country Sounds Music and Arts Festival raffling off a guitar created by Mr Browne and signed by the performers at last year’s event to raise funds for the group. Those seeking to get involved with the shed have the perfect opportunity to do so on Sunday, with an open day and bootcar sale being held at the Brunswick Showgrounds base between 7.30am and 11.30am.