4 September 2023

New men’s shed a safe haven for the blokes of Coen

| Sarah Martin
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Senior Kaantju Traditional Owner Allan Creek opens the Coen Men’s Shed alongside Minister Cameron Dick. Photo: Dion Creek

MORE than five years of tireless lobbying has paid off for the town of Coen after a men’s shed was finally opened last week.

Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation chair Dion Creek said the community had been pushing for a men’s shed to counter the high rate of suicides devastating the tight-knit community.

“Last year we had something like four suicides in 12 months,” Mr Creek said.

“Over the last decade we’ve had about seven suicides.

“The community has a long history of mental health and suicide with little to no response.”

Mr Creek said Coen’s men finally had a safe place to call their own, and support when they needed it most.

“The men’s shed is open everyday, and we also now have full time counsellors working in the community,” he said.

“When men are having issues at 2am, there’s a number they can call and a door they can knock on, where in the past there wasn’t.”

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick, who is Ministerial Champion for the town, said the Men’s Shed would contribute to a strong and connected community in Coen.

“I announced initial funding for a business case towards this Men’s Shed back in 2019,” he said.

“This centre will provide a culturally safe place to deal with men’s business, a place for men to connect and to access support services.

“And what makes the centre great is that the initiative has been driven by then men from Coen, for the men in Coen.”

Mr Creek said the centre was open and operational, with only a few finishing touches to be completed.

“It will be used as a bit of a leisure centre, we’ve got a dart board, TV and barbecue, but also we’ll run open and closed sessions on alcohol and drug counselling and training there,” he said.

“We are also getting a two bedroom donga with temporary accommodation set up, so men can have a place to come and sleep on it and get support.

“For the first time in our community, there’s a safe place for men that they can call their own.”

Kaantju elders Patricia Clarmont and Allan Creek during the smoking ceremony at the opening of the Coen Men’s Shed. Photo: Dion Creek

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