Dr Leon Earle

Men's shed champion

2012 SA Local Hero

We all know the phrase ‘a man’s home is his castle’ but thanks to Dr Leon Earle the humble shed might be just as important in men’s lives. The Men’s Shed movement brings men together in a comfortable space – a kind of therapeutic centre where men can make things, pursue a hobby or simply chat over a cup of tea. Leon believes these sheds can help link older men with their past, present and future. His Eureka moment occurred in 1985 when the South Australian Department of Recreation and Sport asked him to find out what seniors were doing for leisure. Having served as a Professor and visiting Professor of Gerontology in national and overseas universities, Leon had been studying men’s retirement since his PhD in 1978. His subsequent study showed him that men had few networks outside family and friends but that a communal shed could provide a lifeline to positive ageing. He published his research, lobbied government and trained staff in nursing homes and retirement villages. Communal sheds, run by a coordinator, are now popping up all over Australia providing retired men around the nation with a new network of likeminded people.