27 August 2020

Next week is national Men's Shed Week, and I would like to recognise the important work of the local Men's Shed in my electorate of Lilley on the north side of Brisbane. Chatting with northsiders who are members of the local Men's Sheds, I have heard a lot about how being part of the Men's Shed gives people a sense of the community beyond what they had when they were working. Members have time on their hands but they want to spend that time meaningfully and contribute something, and Men's Shed is not just a way of catching up with one another but also a way to do that useful work. They check in on each other and, in a year where we have a global pandemic, I'm sure members have noticed the collective mental health of their communities is tricky, more anxious and at more peril than it would have been otherwise. It's essential that we have these services continue so that people feel that they have a place in the world where they can go. For many men, that is their Men's Shed.

Half of Australians say that they feel lonely at least once a week and a quarter say that they feel lonely more than three times a week. People felt those real emotional effects before COVID but particularly feel them now they can't visit their family who might live over the border or their friends when restrictions have been in place. I think maybe we've taken for granted the profound impact that has on people, so thank you to Men's Sheds, who continue to do that work in these times of difficult and changing restrictions, who serve our men and who go to Men's Shed to serve our community.

To finish off the week, I would like to share good news stories from my electorate of Lilley. Kerala from Virginia contacted my office asking for assistance with her parents' visa application. Kerala is in her third trimester with her second child due in October—solidarity Kerala! Her husband is currently in the Australian Army in New South Wales and unable to attend the birth of their child as his quarantine time would have exceeded his time off between SAS courses, so she essentially would have been on her own with a newborn and a toddler recovering from surgery. Unfortunately, the Department of Home Affairs knocked back her parents' application for a visa to come to Australia to help care for her during that time. After some back-and-forth with the parliamentary liaison network, we have finally secured that visa for her parents to come and assist with her toddler and her recovery from the birth. My office was also able to secure assistance for Phillipa, a 20-year-old from Kedron, to secure a travel exemption to the US. She is travelling to America on a college scholarship to play water polo next year so best of luck, Phillipa. Doreen had a stroke in May and wasn't able to get physio because she couldn't walk on her own. We helped Doreen to get a home-care package reviewed and now she has the care that she needs to be independent and stay in her own home. Tim from Kedron finally got his NBN connected after four months—good on you, Tim! And finally, I'd like to wish a 100 birthday to Jean from St Martin's in Taigum. She turns 100 on 1 November, a very good innings. Happy birthday, Jean.