Railway club in search of new home

Gareth McKnightSound Telegraph
Rockingham Model Railway Group members Jeff Deane, Frank Parish, Les Anderson and Richard Williams show Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby around their premises and talk about the possibility of opening a men's shed in the suburb.
Camera IconRockingham Model Railway Group members Jeff Deane, Frank Parish, Les Anderson and Richard Williams show Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby around their premises and talk about the possibility of opening a men's shed in the suburb. Credit: Gareth McKnight

A much-loved model railway club is in need of a new home in Baldivis, sparking a call for a men’s shed to be set up in the Rockingham suburb.

The Rockingham Model Railway Group was established in 1985 and has about 30 members from the area who meet a couple of times a week to work on their intricate creations.

Several detailed model railways, one of which is 18m long and 7m wide, are housed at a private property in Baldivis.

However, with the site potentially set to be sold, the model railway group is in need of a new home.

As well as looking for somewhere to be based, the group is interested in rebranding as a men’s shed.

There are about 980 men’s sheds across Australia, promoting social interaction and camaraderie among older men.

Model railway group member Jeff Deane said Baldivis needed a men’s shed. “It is just like a men’s shed already except we only have one item of interest — model railways,” he said.

“People are starting to realise that mental health among men is an important issue — men can bottle a lot of things up.

“I think it would be an ideal set-up — there is a big retirement community in Baldivis.”

Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby said the situation with the group needing a new home was perfect timing to establish a men’s shed.

“I have had a preliminary discussion with the Rockingham council and they have been supportive in the search to find some land — but it has to be driven by the organisation,” he said.

“This is a fantastic local asset and it is in risk of being lost to the community entirely because of the situation with the property.

“It could be an anchor tenant for a men’s shed and a minor tourism asset in a way. It would also engage people to get involved in the community.”

Australian Men’s Shed Association executive officer David Helmers said setting up a men’s shed was a relatively straightforward process.

“Activities of the men’s sheds are irrelevant — the likes of model railway clubs are still getting the same outcomes,” he said.

“We are simply saving blokes’ lives around the country by the prevention of social isolation. Once the social interaction of the workplace is removed, that is when they are at risk.

“Men’s sheds are a good platform to provide preventative health measures to the wider community.”

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said there were no current premises to meet the requirement but the City could help with a potential grant if the group became incorporated.

“The City previously provided support for the establishment of a men’s shed in Rockingham and recognises their value to community, particularly to a community that is growing quickly,” he said.

“As such, the group could approach the City’s Community Capacity Building team to arrange a meeting to discuss options both in terms of the possible men’s shed and the needs of the model railway group.”

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