Sunraysia Men’s Shed fosters mateship for people impacted by dementia

The Sunraysia Men's Shed, a not-for-profit organisation in Mildura, Victoria, provides an environment for older men of the region to meet, make friends, engage in activities, and gain information on a range of issues relevant to their personal situations.

Additionally, the shed has been active in helping the Mildura community to become more dementia-friendly.

The shed promotes a common theme with other men’s sheds in Australia, with an aim to make men feel useful and able to contribute to their communities, learn or share skills, make friends and participate in a wide variety of information programs.

In 2016, the Sunraysia Men’s Shed began supporting an annual community fundraising event organised by local Leigh Barry to benefit Dementia Australia. The fun run, ‘Dash for Dementia’ was established by Leigh in honour of her father, Brian Black, who was diagnosed with younger onset dementia at 58 years old.

“I wanted to raise awareness about the disease in the local community and raise money that could be used on projects to assist those living with dementia. I established an event called the Dash for Dementia, in honour of Dad,” Leigh explained.

The first Dash for Dementia coincided with Father’s Day and Mr Black’s birthday. Sunraysia Men’s Shed provided incredible support for the event – crafting trophies, providing supplies and running a barbecue to raise funds for Dementia Australia as well as facilitating set up and take down of the event.

Funds raised through the Dash for Dementia events helped to form the Sunraysia Men’s Group. The group creates opportunities for men of all ages living with dementia or who support a person living with dementia to get together at a monthly barbecue. It is an opportunity for people impacted by dementia to share their experience and to hear from others in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

Members of the group who are not impacted by dementia took the initiative to learn more about the condition and become Dementia Friends through Dementia Australia.

Bob Hayes, a member of the shed, said that since taking the course, he and his fellow group members have taken notice of their community and are stepping up to support those who may be living with dementia.

“Only the other day I was in a shopping complex and I noticed a person having trouble finding their way to the checkout, so I assisted where I could,” Bob said.

“This person was a complete stranger, but I was glad to assist. This was only because I had been made aware of the situation by the training I had received. I am very pleased I am a Dementia Friend.”

Are you interested in what this could look like in your community?

The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at or call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.