Baseless fears of predatory activity have shut down a budding chapter of an increasingly popular men’s group in Australia this week. On the 21st of August the Coolum and North Square News, a publication serving a beach community on Australia’s east coast, published a story detailing a complaint that hauled the establishment of a “Men’s Shed” in the community. The complaint, made by an anonymous man, stated that his concerns about the group of mostly retired and semi-retired men led him to walk his child to the bus stop instead of letting them walk themselves.
From the article:
“Chairman of this men’s shed, former council candidate Ron Campbell, said the complaint to council referred to a “concern of lascivious behavior” by members of the group.”
“Lascivious” refers to being lewd or driven by lust.
“They felt we would create a risk to their children,” Mr Campbell said.
“He (the complainant) now had to go to the bus stop with his child, instead of letting them walk past.”
The Men’s Shed members were handed a 20-year-lease from Coast philanthropist Ray Grace, who donated a small, unused strawberry farm and shed for their use. Plans were discussed for the group to help less fortunate children on the Coast, with former mechanics and builders easily capable of building or repairing toys and bikes.
There was even an idea of having the group act as communal “poppies” – acting as ring-in role models so youngsters could learn basic mechanics, how to repair a bike or work on the Palmwoods farm.
“There was no complaint about parking or noise,” Mr Campbell said. “There was no other complaint but that we might pose a risk of pedophiles.”
The complainant warned council he would pursue any use of the land by the men and have them removed from the site. So, for now, members can do anything on the land as long as it is considered “rural use.” Anything beyond that – including any work for the benefit of children or the elderly – will be done at an abandoned Eudlo sawmill which has no electricity, water supply or other facilities.”
After a flurry of responses to the article comments were closed.
Mensheds, an organization dedicated to establishing local men’s clubs all over Australia in order to provide men with a place they can socialize and engage in community service, originated out of a handful of loosely associated men’s groups that started to organize in 2002 and now boasts over a thousand chapters. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for men and to help engage in community service. Special attention is paid to men suffering emotionally and financially after divorce or facing ill health in older age. They were featured on the popular community radio show Dads On The Air in January of 2008 and their popularity has been growing ever since.