With 15 Men’s Sheds across the Sunshine Coast and a couple of Women’s Sheds too, the Shed movement is going from strength to strength and today the Morrison Government has announced its decision to introduce a new law that will make donations to Men’s and Women’s Sheds tax deductible.
Long time supporter of the Shed movement, Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien says Men’s and Women’s sheds are absolutely deserving of the blanket DGR status today’s announcement affords them.
“At the best of times a lot of Men’s Sheds find it hard to make ends meet, especially when they’re also fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a shed or tens of thousands for tools and equipment, I mean that’s an awful lot of sausage sizzles,” Mr O’Brien said.
But the new legislation, announced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg today, will give Men’s and Women’s Sheds Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status which means anyone making a donation of $2 or more can now claim that donation as an income tax deduction.
“This puts Men’s and Women’s sheds on an even playing field with more than 29,000 other organisations across the country which already benefit from DGR status,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It also means all Sheds will be on an equal footing with each other, as about 10 per cent of Sheds have managed to secure DGR status.”
The Maroochydore Men’s Shed is the only Shed on the Sunshine Coast which has been able to achieve DGR status, while one of the country’s largest has struggled.
“Working with the Buderim Men’s Sheds I know from personal experience how difficult it is. They tried to get DGR status on multiple occasions without success. A challenge we’ve had is that the existing tax laws have been too restrictive in their definition of supporting mental health.
“But of course being a bastion for mental health isn’t advertised on the shed door. One of the reasons they’re so successful is because they market themselves simply as a bunch of blokes who get together at a shed. It’s once people are there and comfortable that the mental health benefits abound.
Now, as well as having tax deductibility, the decision opens up Men’s and Women’s sheds to a whole new fundraising stream.
“It makes them eligible to apply for grants from philanthropic foundations. We’ve got great philanthropic foundations across the country but the vast majority will always require that an organisation has DGR status before they can even be considered for a grant.”
Mr O’Brien has worked closely with his local Men’s Sheds as well as the Australian Men’s Shed Association in trying to get this issue addressed. He found a receptive audience in both the Treasurer and responsible Ministers and is delighted with the decision.
“Acknowledging the value Men’s and Women’s Sheds provide, through DGR status, is a true recognition of what Sheds do.
“They are so much more then just banging nails into wood – even when hammering ends in a bench for a nursing home; they are more than just repairing old bikes – even when those two-wheelers let an underprivileged child learn to ride; and they are more than just knitting a small plush toy – even when that toy brings comfort to a child facing their first blood test.
“They are also about social inclusion and they’re successfully addressing issues of loneliness, mental health and other conditions.
“At a time when a lot of long standing community organisations are struggling to survive, Men’s and Women’s sheds are blossoming. Frankly their growth speaks for itself, they’re filling a void and I am very pleased that the Morrison Government is recognising their value and doing everything it can to strengthen this new social institution.”