It gets bigger
each year.. n’s
brought to you by
Tara Men’s Group Inc.
in partnership with TOMNET
What a good idea!
TARA HOSTS 7th MEN’s MUSTER
The idea of having a Tabloid for our 2011 Men's Muster came Goondiwindi 2
from Frank Hoghes and the Tara men. As our Muster hosts for
this year we congratulate and thank them for their initiative and Inglewood 3
The articles are so varied and represent the diversity of the
men‟s groups throughout South West Queensland. Within the Crow’s Nest 6
over-arching approach of older (and younger) men supporting
one another, each group, while having much in common with Mitchell 9
others, has its own way of going about its business
Articles range from a personal appreciation of a group to other
more general and comprehensive reports. They reflect strength Roma 10
in a network of men where both their commonality and
individuality coexist. The articles provide information exchange Tara 11
that may benefit other groups and help them in supporting their
members and serving their local communities. Pittsworth 12
Our thanks go to all those busy people who have contributed to
the tabloid. We believe that their efforts will result in a good,
Photo Gallery 14
interesting and informative read.
Enjoy History of the MUSTER
Written by Kirsty Dowling- Community Worker from Care Goondi- 2
Goondiwindi windi Community Centre, and was compiled from information
gathered from the Gundy Grey ’ s men ’ s group members.
In 2006, through community consultation Care So what have the men gotten out of the Gundy
Goondiwindi, QLD Health and Blue Care Grey ’ s over the past 4-5 years? After speaking
identified that a Senior Men ’ s group was with many of them individually and as a group
needed in the Goondiwindi community. As the these were the 3 main things they said:
Community Development Coordinator I took on The Gundy Grey ’ s provide an opportunity to:
the main role of looking into this. After I spent
*Meet up with new and old ‘ mates ’ - share a
time talking with older men, researching groups
laugh and talk about the past and future.
around the district and getting in touch with
TOMNET, I organized a community meeting *Learn new things - through guest speakers,
inviting over 50 men from the town and district. A other networking, classes and information
group of around 40 men gathered for this sessions run through Care and also learning
meeting at a local community centre to talk about things from other men - or ‘ mates ’ .
the possible establishment of a men ’ s group. It *Visit new and old places of interest and
was agreed to start with lunches & BBQs. One of experience new things. Trips away to other towns
the first BBQs took place at Care Goondiwindi were a real highlight for almost all group
with just 8 men in attendance. I specifically members and meeting up with other groups was
remember the BBQ though, because I was a definite favourite on our list. The men also
thinking it was a failure due to low numbers but reflected on how great the monthly BBQs/lunches
one of the men said, “ K irsty this is great You were and how much they enjoyed it when
know I have a wife at home and children and TOMNET members or other men ’ s groups
grandchildren in town but what I really miss joined them. A real highlight at these BBQs and
since selling our farm and moving into town is meetings is also their ‘ Tell a Joke/Yarn ’
‘ M ateship ’ . I realized then numbers didn ’ t sessions - these are of course always clean and
matter - if together as a group we can have a they never bring in any blonde jokes in on my
positive impact on one life then the group is a behalf! A long discussion took place about the
success. places we have visited, things we have seen and
With this in mind, discussions took place with the catering/hospitality we ’ ve received. The food
men about what they wanted to organize and we ’ ve eaten should get a special mention as
how I should go about it. A small core group of the men remembered eating scones as big as
around 20 men started meeting regularly and The soccer balls washed down with a big cup of
Gundy Grey ’ s Men ’ s group was named and coffee and 2 rounds of sandwiches each at the
formed. The group has now been going strong Moonie Creek. They have also been served a
since 2007. Naturally, numbers have fluctuated mixed grill big enough to supply a month ’ s
and men have come and gone but generally consumption of meat to a small village. They still
numbers sit around 15-25 to an event. Not too remember and talk about the Oakey Men ’ s
bad for a small town really. The group have been Muster a few years ago where they received up
approached about helping with different projects to 7 courses of food straight & then it was time to
in the community but as the majority of the group go home! They always say to me, ‘ Kirsty, you
member are over 70 and some have on-going just will never let us go hungry will you! ’
health complaints I have found this bunch of men The Gundy Grey ’ s Men’ s Group is probably
much prefer trips, BBQs and intergenerational run a little differently from other groups in the
activities that don ’ t necessarily mean ‘ being region in that there isn ’ t one full-time chair
involved in manual labor’ . It was an assumption person.
of mine that being involved in work and projects The men are very good at allocating & sharing
was what the men wanted but really what
tasks & then Care is responsible for the
motivates this particular group of men is the
administrative side of their group. They do
opportunity to have a cuppa and a chat with a…
however make decisions themselves about
‘ M ate ’ ! events, places to visit & their meeting schedules.
( c ontinued next page )
Goondiwindi cont. Inglewood 3
This suits our particular group and I don ’ t push
them anymore to be modeled exactly like other The Inglewood Men‟s Shed – known as „The
Mates Shed‟ has come a long way during the past
groups in the region. They are respectful of each
eighteen months. The group has a keen
other and I feel over the years have grown into a membership of 12 with a number of others in the
great group of ‘ mates ’ who are able to rely on district showing interest in joining. The word „old‟
each other for advice and support. I most certainly has been left out of the naming as a number of
feel privileged to have met them all individually members have stated that they felt they were not
and as a group. The fact I get to be involved with old enough to be classified as such and there are
them as part of my job is wonderful and I will also a number of middle aged men who require
certainly cherish the memories I share with them our help as well.
and I know they all feel the same way about the Thanks for the availability of our building goes
group also. mainly to the Goondiwindi Regional Council who
were able to provide us with the old Scouts
What are the negatives or barriers for the group. I Premises. This building has been amalgamated
wish I had more time allocated to spend into the land involving the McIntyre Sports Centre
concentrating on ways to enhance the group with and thus we only have to pay for services being
them, but unfortunately, as most of you involved power, water, garbage and sewerage services.
The building had become an eyesore and a target
in similar groups know, time restraints and funding
for vandalism. The groups brief is to renovate and
seem to be an on-going barrier to our group restore the building as the headquarters for “The
developments. Our other main barrier is lack of Mates Shed‟ and to rid the building of the dozens
transport. We do not having a community bus and of pigeons using the area.
there are no buses in this community that are The original area of the building was donated by
suitable either due to accessibility or affordability. Mr Col Rowlings who had a property „Redbank‟ on
These are not problems that are easily fixed & in the banks of the McIntyre Brook west of
the 5 years we have been together it has been an Inglewood.
on-going issue that we don ’ t really have any The building itself was named “Mygunyah” It was
solution to. opened by the then Queensland Governor Sir
In finishing, I thought I ’ d include in this article Henry Able Smith who was a cousin the Queen
some key words that kept coming up in my chats Elizabeth 11. The plaque commemorated this day
in May 1960 and this plaque will be maintained in
with the men about our group - as you have
a special area.
probably read the main word mentioned by every
single one of them was…… Mateship. The building – “Mygunyah” would have been
approximately 100 years old when it was shifted
Others included sharing life experience,
into Inglewood in 1959/1960. Floor boards in the
friendship, on-going support, loneliness, men ’ s building are original and almost eight inches wide.
business, not too formal, hang out, own place, Since this time a large room was added to the
non-judgmental, depression, health, socialization, back which the group is in the process of
referral information, wellbeing, away from family, renovating to become the reception and meeting
advice, guidance, social isolation, consistent area. Ian Badham
connection, cooking for one.
The men really feel the Gundy Grey ’ s gives Footnote:
them an environment where their life experiences The “Mates Shed” is a monument to the founding
can be shared, a forum where they can be members who started off in 2010. The “mates” already
are rejuvenating the premises and this activity has
‘ t hemselves with their mates ’ … an
joined members and other people of the town and
environment they feel is otherwise not always district in purposeful endeavour. Working side-by-side
available to them in the wider community. They has been a large part in the process of men supporting
were unanimous in saying that the group allowed one another. The early days of the Inglewood group
are packed with promise for the future. This was
them to connect and share experiences in a safe,
confirmed at the groups first AGM on 28 July 20911
non-judgmental environment that is thankfully where the spirit and commitment of its members left no
ongoing- for now. This small but strong group of doubt in our minds about this.
‘ m ates ’ will be around for a long time to come!
OUR BEGINNING 4. In conjunction with Oakey Lions and the Oakey
Historical Museum Committee we hold an annual
The Oakey branch of TOMNET was born in May
Foster Carers BBQ day at the museum where we
2004 in St Monica‟s School Hall with Father Kerry
invite all foster carers and their families to a great
Costigan elected as our first president.
So began a journey of seven years that sees the
Oakey group held in the highest esteem in not FUND RAISING AND AWARENESS DAYS
only Oakey but in all quarters. In recent years we have conducted fund raising
This journey could not have been undertaken and awareness days for other organizations, such
without the teamwork and mateship that evolved as
in the early days when renovating a demountable 1. Prostate Cancer Awareness and Fund raising
shed that Fr Costigan acquired for our group. BBQ day which was attended by a cross
Converting the shed from a building with unlined section of the community – (An all blue day)
walls, poor unsound flooring and no fencing, to a 2. A pink ribbon day to raise funds and
meeting place of quality proved very difficult but awareness for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
as a team we stuck to the task and did it! The This day was well attended by a lot of local
fellowship established during all this cemented ladies and the day was a sea of pink. Following
bonds that still exist. This despite the fact that up this day the favorable comments from the
to 8 of out original team are no longer with us, general community raised our profile even
having passed on. more.
WE ARE NOT AN ISLAND A local flood victims BBQ was held to raise funds
In our infancy as a group we saw the need to for distribution among local residents. Money
expand our wings and embrace other sections of raised was distributed via food vouchers. This
our community and service groups. We felt if we was done on a one-to-one personal basis.
remained in our own little circle we would THE SHED HAS TO GO
eventually shrivel up and become an island on our
In late 2010 we were advised that we would have
own. Our involvement with the community and
to vacate our shed situated near St Monica‟s
other service organizations has reached a point
tennis courts. The school had received a grant to
where we now -
construct an indoor sport and culture complex and
1. Have a long term partnership with the this construction would encompass our shed. The
committee of the Oakey Historical Museum. To Church and school did all they could to assist us
date we have painted buildings and assisted relocate, but red tape and lack of help from other
with improvements to a BBQ shade and seating authorities had our secretary banging his head on
area. Up to 4 BBQs are held each year at the the wall. We were doomed to be homeless.
Museum and the Museum committee always
A MIRACLE HAPPENS
assists with these days.
2. For several years we have been associated But out of the blue a miracle happens. A local
business man, Tony Nixon of TAB Plumbing, read
with the Dr EAF McDonald Nursing Home in
of our plight in the Oakey Champion via an article
Oakey. We take male residents (with the help of
on our „Farewell to the Shed Breakfast‟ in
carers) to outings such as BBQs and visits to
December. He and his wife Denise decided to
museums and luncheons at country hotels. We
offer us a shed situated behind his plumbing
also make items for use by the residents
works. Thank you Tony and Denise.
including easels for painting, wooden flowers
for garden displays, timber birds etc. We also THE NEW SHED
have some of the female residents attend What great news! It is just a shed but boy it is big
functions and once a year have a ladies only and it even has a toilet and is wheelchair
event accessible. But the most pleasing thing about the
3. With the Oakey Lions Club we have a mutual shed is that it needs a lot of work and our
friendship and good working relationship. They members have rallied bit by bit to make it
gave us much assistance in the early days. something we can be proud of.
(continued next page)
Oakey cont 5
One can see even stronger bonds forming
between some of our long serving members and Working with the students of Oakey State High
some of our newer members as rewarding School for their project team to make
improvements are made. To date, floors have improvements to our toilet set up.
been painted, also the toilet. It is planned to We continue our community involvement in Oakey
surround the toilet with a lattice work privacy and surrounds to encourage people in need to
screen and to enlarge it making it wheelchair seek out our support so that we can fulfill our
accessible. Windows are to be installed and walls vision.
made more friendly along with other on-going Recently our Foundation President Fr Kerry
improvements. Costigan put forward a new vision for us and we
The memorial garden bed we established at our list it below:
old shed is to be moved to the side of the new
shed with the addition of five more trees, one tree
for the 8 members who have passed on will form WE ARE A GROUP OF:
our new memorial garden. MEN supporting older men
The important thing with the shed is that it will be MEN with our gifts and personalities
the result of a team effort.
MEN who are tolerant and respectful of all others.
OUR CORE AIMS MEN open to the possibility of being criticized
using positive comments for self development
With all that has been said before we have not
lost sight of our core function that is to help lonely MEN sometimes “broken” but always human
and isolated men. Because of our standing in the enough to remain joyful about the future
community men and women with personal issues MEN continually challenged “to keep the show on
have approached us for moral support and the road.”
understanding and thankfully to date we have had (FR Kerry Costigan, Foundation President)
100% success. Some of these people have joined
our group while others have started new lives for OUR THANKS
themselves. We must conclude by thanking all who have
OUR MEETING DAYS assisted us over the past seven years, in
particular the Administration and Members of
We met twice a month with the 2nd Friday in each TOMNET.
month being a normal meeting at the shed, all
members are invited to take part in this general WELL DONE
meeting. Guest speakers and talks of interest are WE are also proud of the fact that for 2009 our
also part of this day. then president Doug Darr was named Oakey and
On the 4th Friday of each month we have our District Citizen of the Year and for 2010 our
activities or fun time with BBQs, visits to secretary George Lipman was named Oakey and
museums, pub luncheon, members shed District Citizen of the year and Toowoomba
activities, or whatever to maintain interest. Our Region Citizen of the Year.
members at the McDonald Nursing Home usually
attend these days.
OUR MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS
We currently have 35 members some of whom
are residents at the McDonald Nursing Home.
All take some part in our ongoing commitments.
There is always good fellowship, a helping hand
at activities and an ear when someone needs to
Our new shed allows us to progress even further
with the following plans on the table:
A workshop area in our shed to carry out
woodwork and other activities for the
Albert Einstein once said: 2. The informal approach was suggested that
“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for offered independence from Government
what purpose he knows not, though he senses impositions and all that goes with funding
it. But without deeper reflection one knows restraints as well as endless compliances. It was
from daily life that one exists for other people” recognized that minimal structure was needed, to
be accountable to the members. Membership was
And so the above quote expresses the proposed to be on a weekly basis without formality
philosophy of our men‟s group celebrating seven of annual subscriptions. Leadership was to be
years of existence beginning on the 9th July 2004. totally flexible and the group would decide on
BACKGROUND DEVELOPMENTS changes as required on short notice. The intent
was to pass ownership of the group to members to
The seeds for a men‟s group in Crows Nest
contribute as their abilities and wishes dictated,
began some time prior to the inaugural meeting of
Given that older men and served in many
69 men on the 9th July 2004, at the Crows Nest
community groups over long time periods,
Catholic Church hall, at which the group was
informality offered the most success to the fledging
formed. This meeting was instigated by vet, and
group. This approach has now worked well over
local government Councillor Chris Yeates who
the past 7 years.
wrote to men in the senior age group demographic
and invited them to attend. The Blue Care THE INAUGURAL MEETING
organisation had invested resources to research a The group was formed at the inaugural meeting
possible platform or a forum for older men to of 69 men on the 9th July 2004, at the Crows Nest
address improving their physical and mental health Catholic Church hall.
issues. This research conducted by the writer
indentified through consultation with older men, Minutes of this meeting highlight the following:
that non-specific social venues could be supported Chris Yeates spoke about starting an older men’s
which could lead to health improvement through group in Crows Nest. Members from Toowoomba
socialisation. Older Men’s Network gave a presentation as how
It must be understood that in 2004, over 80 their group started and donated $500 as seeding
community based organisations in the area offered money towards starting costs for the Crows Nest
participation to older men. For our purposes the group. It was decided that at the next meeting on
older man is defined as a man 50 and over. the 16th July the group would form and over the
However younger men are not excluded from our next few meetings guest speakers such as Dr Jim
group, it seems the group attracts older men Cavaye, an eminent Community Development
naturally without any sort of formality. Consultant addressed the group with advice as
how to proceed.
Many exploratory meetings were held with
interested stakeholders at the Yeates household After much discussion the group voted
and much rumination followed. At the time there unanimously to become a committee of council
were many ideas and visions offered to define the (Crows Nest Council) as an unincorporated
Purpose, Aims, Directions and Governance informal group. A committee was elected to
Structure for such a group. It could be said that manage the group and weekly meetings with fixed
two views were held. budgets for catering authorised. Our original home
as the Catholic Church hall, but due to church
1. The formal approach with a Management needs we moved to the Local Bowls Club and
Committee, Incorporation, Government funding remain there till this day.
assistance and a building to house this group.
With many members who are also bowls
Some research was carried out investigating members this has become our home that offers all
availability of suitable land, for example the old calf our requirements and easy access for mobility
saleyards were inspected and Crows Nest Council issues of some members. The group has as its
was approached as to this possibility of using or core value the philosophy of total independence,
developing this facility. Further discussions were self determination and self reliance, and rejects
held as to a suitable “shed” project requiring external influences or controls. The gesture to
massive funding in the future. This vision held the return seeding funds back to TOMNET to pass on
belief that a fully equipped workshop style building to the other groups was done in gratitude and a
would meet the men‟s needs. mark of respect to maintain full independence.
(continued next page)
Crow’s Nest Cont 7
Once a month we have a BBQ (classy lunch) and
The group values our friendship and ties with use the opportunity to disseminate any formal
TOMNET but does not want to have formalised information and planned activities.
association with any community group.
GROUP DEVELOPMENT OVER TIME Mainly our group simply engages in conversation,
that old fashioned idea that people talked over the
The aims and objectives of the group are to foster
dining table and discussed problems, shared their
friendships and fellowship through genuine
day and celebrated achievements.
conversation and knowledge of each other. The
group can discuss any topic regardless, and Our group operates between 8.30am and about
practises respect and tolerance of each others 12.30pm with the members lingering on at their
views and opinions. We support male gender leisure often. We have about 45 to 50 active
related issues and provide a forum for open and members and 20 to about 25 attend each week.
friendly debate. We usually have a raffle each week with a major
prize followed by a multiple draw of 20-25 or more
Our group provides a regular social outlet for
items such as fresh produce and donated goodies.
mature males in our community in a non-
Participation is voluntary and many members
competitive or sporting atmosphere. We believe in
contribute regularly with produce to maintain funds.
shared responsibilities, to utilise our skills, pass on
Our funds are expended by members‟ votes and
knowledge and skills of the past. We look to the
activities are subsidized heavily for trips and the
future and are interested in current local and world
events. Our members are willing to pass on current
skills to our older members regarding technology GROUP ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
and other subjects. We uphold confidentiality of our Our group constantly tries to find new and
group discussions, regarding individual views and interesting venues and destinations for members to
opinions. Our aim is to widen our outlook and to enjoy that are male interest orientated. However
develop individual networks outside the group in we also have mixed venues to include partners.
the community to pursue member‟s interests. Our
group is a forum for older men to freely and openly We have undertaken bus trips to places like:
discuss issues that concern them and others. We 1. Rail Museum at Ipswich
encourage the lighter side of life and we love 2. Botanical Gardens Brisbane
humour. We hope to continue to gain knowledge of
health issues and advancements in men‟s health 3. Maritime Museum
and we pursue speakers in this regard. Our group 4. Oakey Aviation Centre & Museum
tries to counter social isolation of many men in our 5. Wineries
community, and complement other community
6. Sight seeing venues
groups by assisting when possible.
7. Supporting and participating with TOMNET
WHAT DOES OUR GROUP ACTUALLY DO? trips and events
We jokingly refer to our group as “Men’s Secret Guest speakers over the years have been:
Business”, given the volume of laughter at our
meetings the whole community can hear us. In fact 1.Wind Farm presentation, both sides of the
all we do is be ourselves. Many of us have spoken debate
about our life‟s story of who we are, and the 2. Politicians of all parties and Governments
journey travelled, the good, bad and ugly. We 3. Local Council representatives
share interests and explore new interests of our
members. We use our group to develop skills and 4. Bankers
hobbies and learn from other members thus in turn 5. Government agencies presentations –
widening our networks as well as often our Centrelink, Public Trust, Health Department
partners. A women‟s friendship group structured on
6. Superannuation companies & funeral directors
our model has been going for some years now.
7. Medical and allied professionals
The glue of our group is “food”. The theory is you
chew, you talk, you stay and you interact. A great 8. TOMNET on men‟s issues
morning tea made by members to enjoy at a cost of 9. Members telling their life stores
$4 and this is the membership fee for the day. No
10. Local industry proprietors and community
subscription no obligation to attend, come when
and as you need to. Our group operates each and
every Friday throughout the year including Good
Friday. (continued over page)
Crow’s Nest Cont 8
MAJOR GROUP EVENTS I have been influenced by all of them.
1. Australia Day Landing re-enactment 2007 at Herb SMITH Edwin TIGELL
“Bullocky‟s Rest”. This group even won the John STEWART Jerry CARTER
“Australia Day Local Government event of the Ted GYLNN Max VANDERSEE.
Year Award", a very proud moment in our
group‟s achievements. Jack LANGE Fred MOCOCK
2. Fortune Teller readings by the famous Brian MUNRO Tony WILKES
Madame “ZENDA” at TOMNET meetings for
President Noel Hannant and Tom Clark. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
3. Crows Nest Day celebrations parade, exhibit No group, however informal, ever runs itself. I
(our resident member clown Bob Windsor, acknowledge all past and current committee
also past president). members for their tireless work and belief in the
4. Mock wedding play by our member thespians welfare and growth of our group. To all members
(alter ego cross dressers) star studded cast past and present, thank you for being you. Your
show casing the Bride in full gear James contribution and interest is the very reason for our
White. existence. The list is too comprehensive to name
everyone. I would like, however, to name a few
5. Many honour guards to support members‟ outstanding contributions which laid down our
funerals. foundations for others to build upon.
6. Support and assistance to allied community CHRIS YEATES original catalyst for the group
TOMNET members bringing the concept and
7. Assisting members‟ families in times of crisis ideas to explore.
and need. ALAN GREENWOOD
8. Catering duties supporting TOMNET events ALAN MUTCH
such as Oakey Gathering. BILL SNADS
GRAHAM ROSENGREEN Biographies/recital
MEMBERSHIP OUTREACH REG BLANCK
Hospital visits and family support. FATHER TERRY HICKLIN
Assisting to identify older men in social isolation, MAURIE YOUNG
illness and frailty. BOB WINDSOR
Writing up life stories of members, by Graham HANK BOBILAK
Rosengreen, a talented man and past president. VENN SORENSON
The future for the group looks assured as it
fulfils the need of older men. As members pass The reflection on the development of the Crows
away as is inevitable due to our ageing process, Nest Men‟s Network is drawn from records and
new members take up the challenge of relevance recollections of members. It also draws on the
and adapt to change. Our original insistence to personal experience and participation of the writer
remain independent at all costs has been a over the past 10 years in the local community. I
proven formula for this group, and the culture of submit this in good faith as an accurate history of
openness continues to welcome new members. the group. However omissions are not intentional.
Informality and voluntary service to the group‟s They are merely the onset of the ageing process.
needs and wishes has worked well over the last 7 I wish to sincerely thank everyone associated with
years and hopefully will continue. this group as it has had an incredible positive
impact on my own life as I am exposed to the
IN MEMORY OF PAST MEMBERS experience, wisdom, goodwill and above all
I wish to remember the passing of some of our friendships of so many “uncles and father” figures.
original members‟, all were real characters in their Mark Berkovich
own right and have left lasting impressions on the Founding Member
Mitchell Toowoomba 9
Patrick Pearce is the man behind the Booringa Last month we celebrated our 10th anniversary.
Blokes in Mitchell. This small group was formed in Who would have believed back in 2001 with eight
mid 2009 and originally met in a small hut in the members, that our membership would have grown
grounds of the local nursing home. to 250 today.
More recently there has been a change in venue. But our growth is not measured in numbers only.
An article in the Bottle Tree Bulletin earlier this It is evident in the number of programs
year sums up the early days of this group. undertaken, the active participation of members
“The Booringa Blokes is a group of older men who and volunteers in running the organisation, the
meet in the Booringa Action Cottage, at 19 positive changes in the lives of many and the
Liverpool Street on the first Monday and third recognition and respect accorded to us by the
Tuesday every month. We meet mainly to aid wider community. They say that „self praise is no
older men suffering from depression and are recommendation‟. While this is true, Toowoomba
homeless. Come along for a yarn, a coffee, tea TOMNET can take pride in their achievements
and bickies, the venue is air-conditioned, with and the manner in which they go about their
comfortable chairs. We meet around 9.30 – 10.00 „business‟. They are essentially quiet achievers;
am and you will, I am sure, develop lasting not seeking reward except perhaps, for the
friendships. Perhaps you may have some skills satisfaction of sharing ones experiences with
and good advice to share with us, which would be another and doing a good turn to a mate, no
welcomed. For more information contact Patrick matter how small. It is this spirit that also prevails
Pearce on Ph 4623 7743 or 0488 123 860.” in the rural groups – the spirit that links us all
Patrick Pearce had the privilege of attending the
Carers evening at the Club Hotel Roma. The Resources are scarce. With ever expanding
evening was an outstanding success, thanks to demands upon us we are being forced to work
Trish and Amanda, Roma Carers. The food was smart, to maximise our effectiveness in what we
commendable, and music had the venue jumping. can do and to do it more efficiently. Although we
have received limited funding for another two
Like many groups that have been established in years from State and Federal Governments our
rural areas getting them started and into regular potential is seriously curtailed. As always we are
meetings has been difficult. Members continue required to do more with less, and so priorities
working and are often away from Mitchell. have to be given attention while accepting that we
However, the foundation for development in the cannot respond to all the needs that come to our
future has been laid, much to the credit of Patrick attention.
We are planning to have some supportive visits to
While the road has been a hard slog, we have rural groups for mutual benefit so that the interests
every good reason to anticipate a bright future for of older men can be addressed regionally and
the Booringa Blokes. locally. We shall continue our home visiting
program but the number receiving the service will
be reduced. We will expand our partnerships with
nursing homes by increasing small groups in
these facilities. Various meetings continue to
thrive and an additional “Chew-the-Fat” group has
been formed because of ever increasing numbers.
The number of volunteers is increasing and
participating in training. We have an increase in
men becoming involved in our mentoring program
with Flexi-School … and much more could be
Like the rural groups, our group is a “work in
progress,” and it is the quality and calibre of the
men themselves that makes Toowoomba
TOMNET what it is today.
In May 2007, with Red Cross support, a small As the original coordinator of RomNet, Don
group of older men concerned by the social Roberts said, “The best outcome is to see
isolation of local men in their community formed someone previously isolated from the community
the Roma Men‟s Network. Community find their place again”.
consultations conducted in rural and remote From this engagement with RomNet we know
towns had identified a general concern regarding that:
the health and wellbeing of older men expressed
by local service providers and community groups. 1. Local change is driven by working in
Of specific concern were older men living alone in partnership with local people who recognise their
poor housing, on low fixed incomes and with no own community‟s issues and identify what help
family support or few social connections. they need.
Key to these concerns was the lack of service 2. Red Cross provided the right support at the
usage by these men many of whom had right time (transport, community space, staffing)
unrecognised or poorly treated health conditions which has kept the project responses directly
and disabilities. These were often compounded by linked to community needs without the risk of Red
a lack of self care and high rates of substance Cross taking over. For example it has required us
abuse (predominantly alcohol abuse). Many of to work with the men, partners and stakeholders
these older men had moved to key regional when it suits them, not just us.
centres after long employment in mining or stock 3. Employment of a peer builds the skills of the
work. Most have retired (mostly forced) with little group and at the same time provides direct
income support and few assets. The lack of family access for the group to the knowledge, resources
and friends also meant many were lonely, alone and expertise of the broader organisation. It also
and disconnected from the broader community in supports ownership staying with the community
terms of access to support services as well as and the group.
social relationship. 4. A single response model while benefiting
Initial contact between the men and Red Cross specific individuals has less impact in terms of
was established through activities aimed at scale and scope than a multifaceted approach
improving the men‟s health and social wellbeing. (i.e. one to one friendships, group formation and
A small grant had been secured to run cooking networking).
classes aimed at educating single men about 5. Areas of sustainability have begun to emerge
good food and nutrition. In addition, a core group with the group owning more of the processes and
of men had expressed a desire in forming an the coordinator also „retiring‟ with others willing to
interest group known as the Roma Men‟s Network step up. Some areas are less likely to become
(RomNet). This group was supported by Red sustainable such as applying for funds etc. given
Cross and formed as part of the Bridges program the age and focus of the group, yet this role is one
aimed at improving social connections and Red Cross is willing to continue.
community access for isolated people. Red Cross
provided direct support in the form of employing a 6. Seeking funding that must „fit‟ with the goals,
local peer coordinator one day a week (one of the purposes and outcomes of the group avoids the
older men selected by the men themselves), 12- risk of the project, focus being changed, the group
seater bus, meeting space and staff support. is clear that any funds complement rather than
Recent funding has contributed to the control the project and.
development of a book capturing the memories 7. A little goes a long way when working with
and histories of the older men about their district, people who are motivated. RomNet is made up of
giving many of the men a sense of legacy. fewer than 10 volunteers but had made a
Over the past two years RomNet has become a significant impact on the Roma community well
well recognised part of the Roma community beyond the 60-70 men who regularly take part on
landscape respected by the local community the activities organised by the group.
members and service providers. They collaborate Don Roberts
with Primary Health and local GPs in supporting
the improvement of their members‟ health and Footnote: The RomNet men, under the
have significantly reduced the social disconnect of leadership of Don Roberts has taken an interest in
many men living alone. Friendships between the Surat while supporting a group in Injune. Areas
men have grown with 60-70 men participating on around Roma remain of interest to RomNet who
a monthly basis in activities and new groups being are keen to develop and support more local
formed in surrounding towns. groups within striking distance.
Tara Men‟s Group started about seven or eight Manage “Work for the Dole” program
years ago, at the Tara Lagoon on the hill behind 2009 – 2010
the toilet/shower building. We were all around
the same age at the time - 50 to 70 age group. Drop in centre open Tuesday – Friday
We had a small sheltered area with only a roof, Occasional bus trips
all sides were open to the weather and that was Discuss about what values the Tara Men‟s Group
alright in the warmer weather but not so good in stands for ranged from serving the community,
the cold. There were times when it was that cold including the „blockies‟, to having personal needs
during winters, that we could not wait to have a met, to „being there‟ for their mates. Some
cup of tea or coffee to get warm. comments forthcoming were: “This is what we
We were able to use the Tara Community Church like”; “Fellowship, having friends and their
Hall after this time, sharing the facilities, and that company”; “Be here for others who need us”;
was a vast improvement as to the weather. “Keep us off the street!”; „Helping others; a
Then we were able to obtain the use of the shed. valuable community service”; “Having a place for
We are now on the corner of Day and Fry Streets, the men out on the blocks and draw them into
Tara. At the time the building belonged to Dave town”; “ men can talk to men – not to women
Gunther, the owner of Country Rural Traders. (at the meetings)”.
He believed in what we were trying to do and
gave us the shed to use. Recently the property Graham Hopkins.
has been sold to a young couple who have
started a popular Mexican café and look to be (Secretary)
giving it a good try. They are supportive of our
group and allow us to continue using the shed at
We have about 30 members and we have been
able to have some representation at almost every
function that has been put on by community
groups and those connected with TOMNET.
This is Tara‟s turn to host the Regional Muster,
and we are looking forward to meeting with all
the people who come to Tara to enjoy our Men‟s
We are hoping that you will all have an enjoyable
day and decide that Tara is somewhere to return
to. The Tara men will always be here to welcome
you back with a smile and an out-stretched hand.
This is a very active group of men. Some of their
A monthly BBQ – 3rd Thursday
Street BBQ – 1st Thursday
Market Day BBQ – 1st Thursday
Two Day Camel Races food stall – this year,
British style cuisine.
Anzac Day – gunfire breakfast at dawn.
Working on community bus
Instigate Men‟s Health Night, and participate
In April 2004 an invitation was sent to a large To meet these challenges any verbal input has to
number of the older men of Pittsworth town and be accompanied by a related display of physical
district asking them to attend a meeting to objects which can be passed around to groups at
discuss the formation of an older men‟s group. tables. Even if the verbal input has been heard
The move was initiated by TOMNET in only partly, or not at all, the articles themselves
conjunction with representatives of the Pittsworth provide a table talking point or bring back
community. memories providing further stories and
discussion. At the afternoon tea which follows
At that meeting, attended by forty or more local our blokes assist the waiters. The aged men in
men and addressed by the TOMNET men, it was the lodge have had a welcome change in routine!
decided to form a group called “The Pittsworth A monthly visit is proposed. The challenge for the
Older Men‟s Network” and to meet fortnightly. men of our group is to spur themselves to either
Office bearers were elected to perform the provide an input themselves or to take the
executive functions. responsibility to organise someone to provide a
short verbal input which is accompanied by a
The executive met shortly afterwards and display of physical objects which can be
produced a newsletter the main content being a circulated around the tables.
program of events for the following months. Our hope is that we have found a way within our
particular Pittsworth community for older men to
In the early stages meeting attendances varied in support other older men. Its success will depend
the range of fifteen to twenty. Guest speakers on the response we get from our blokes to
generally attract the least attendance while individually play their part.
concerts and bus trips, to which the wives and
girlfriends were invited, attracted the best Jack Zeller.
Over the years attendance has gradually
declined. Apart from a decrease due to deaths
there has been a drift to other organisations
which have evidently been able to also satisfy
the needs of older men for social interaction.
A Senior Citizens group of mixed gender meeting
weekly has existed in Pittsworth for over 30
years. Another mixed group, The Happy
Wanderers, has gathered momentum in recent
times. It was initially formed to provide bus trips
but later expanded by providing concerts and
other activities. Meanwhile our group‟s meeting
attendance has slipped to fewer than ten. At our
2011 annual meeting the attendance was seven.
Our group‟s 2010 break-up concert was attended
by some visitors from Toowoomba TOMNET as
well as a number of men from the local
Beauaraba Lodge aged care facility.
The nurses from the lodge who accompanied the
men made the suggestion that our members may
be willing to visit the lodge on a regular basis to
socialise with twenty or more aged male
After further discussion with the Lodge
representatives, this suggestion is being tried. It
has its challenges due in part to the immobility of
some of the aged men but more so to the
hearing loss suffered by many of them and also
by many of the men in our group.
The Dalby Older Men’s Group is small in number Life is precious, time is precious. As the years
but large in spirit. This was demonstrated in last roll by we begin to think about, yes, death! - an
year’s regional Men’s Muster where the Dalby event which will come to all of us. - the end of our
men hosted the successful event. Mindful that earthly journey.
our groups are non-political and non-religious, a
diverse range of views and experiences are Our beliefs and opinions may differ but an
reflected in every group. There is generally true attitude of compassion, understanding and
tolerance and understanding amongst members, mutual respect prevails among us. After all, we
even though passion adds an extra edge to are today as a result of all our yesterdays. We
some issues. need each other. “Listening is an act of love.”
In this article Rob Robinson has expressed a Recently we enjoyed the company of the dear
very personal view when referring to the Dalby folk from Blue Care for morning tea. And to listen
men. While some of us may express ourselves to a good speaker Mr. Bob Wild, past mayor of
somewhat differently from Rob’s words, there the Wambo Shire Council. Bob‟s visit was
can be no doubt what the Dalby group means to arranged by Ted – his speech (presentation) was
Rob. The spirit of men caring and sharing for one most interesting, informal and appreciated by all.
another is important regardless of ones This took place on Thursday 9th June. (Our
orientation and form of expression. thanks to Ted and Jack). It has been my
pleasure to get to know these older men over the
So let Rob speak for himself. past months and also to discover they are decent
Thurs 14th July 2011 men (gentlemen) who believe in the Lord and
Dalby Older Men‟s Group endeavor to live a life worthy of the title
CHRISTIAN. I thank God for these men, for such
A warm greeting from the Dalby Older Men‟s are the salt of the earth.
Our kindest regards to all,
Having only attended the meetings for 12 months
or so, regrettably, one is unable to report on the Yours sincerely, Rob Robinson.
initial first visit by TOMNET Toowoomba to
commence the group in Dalby. (Our thanks to
those men.) At present we have 6 men who
come along regularly on the 1st Thursday of each
month- Paul Daly, Errol Leicht, Jack Callaghan,
Ted Ryan, Rob Purvis and myself. The venue is
the new Myall Youth Community and Network
centre on the corner of Drayton and Nicholson
Sts. This is an excellent place (modern, well
planned and comfortable) to enjoy a cuppa tea or
coffee with freshly made sandwiches, cakes and
biscuits provided by the wonderful (friendly) staff,
Lyn and Judy. A privilege it is to know these
In our times of sharing we have learnt about
each others backgrounds, work experiences,
skills, occupations, and family life, the joys and
blessings. Every life has a story and our respect
and appreciation grows for each other as we
simply listen. Such topics as Multiculturalism,
boat people, the political situation, the
preservation of cropping land, C.S.C.,
earthquakes, volcanoes, the same sex marriage
debate, and local issues of Government are
discussed, plus the daily struggles of the ageing
The history of the MUSTER
~ 2005 ~
Toowoomba (Jacaranda Room)
~ 2006 ~
~ 2007 ~
Oakey (Historical Museum)
~ 2008 ~
Millmerran (Mill-Inn Tavern)
~ 2009 ~
Pittsworth (Bowls Club)
~ 2010 ~
Dalby (Bowls Club)
~ 2011 ~
Tara (Memorial Civic Hall)
Older men supporting older men