South Australian Men's Sheds: Who, What and Why?

Gary M. Misan (
Chloe Oosterbroek (


This paper describes the characteristics of South Australian men's sheds and the demographic profile of the men who frequent them for recreation and leisure. The paper describes 42 SA men's sheds and 163 men who are members of sheds in rural communities. We found that community men's sheds in SA continue to thrive in both metropolitan Adelaide and in communities further afield. SA was an early adopter of the men's shed culture yet still sees new sheds being established regularly, mainly in country areas. There are more sheds in regional, rural and remote areas than in Adelaide and non-metropolitan sheds are often larger, open more often and boast more members. SA sheds come in all shapes and sizes, operate under a variety of models and offer a broad range of pursuits.

Members are motivated to join sheds because of the informality, camaraderie, sense of belonging, opportunity for purposeful endeavour, the male friendly environment and the variety of activities on offer. While the majority of participants have partners, one quarter live alone. This suggests a community men's sheds act as a buffer to social isolation and community disengagement, particularly in rural areas.

Rural SA sheds mostly cater for older, retired, lesser educated men, commonly from blue-collar backgrounds and often from disadvantaged communities. Co-incidentally this profile corresponds with the characteristics of men most at risk of ill health which presents a unique opportunity for the delivery of health promotion programs in this setting. 

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