Since its launch in 2018, the Lithgow Area Women’s Shed, which empowers women across the Seven Valleys to learn new skills, share ideas, and build friendships, has been on the hunt for a permanent place to call home.
For four years the group has been making do without a fixed site, by operating out of private homes or working from water-damaged demountable buildings.
Now, thanks to $2.1 million in Federal Government funding, the Lithgow Area Women’s Shed has the funds to make their dream of having their very own digs a reality.
The multi-million dollar Australian Government support is through the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program, which was established to assist communities to recover from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.
Member for Calare and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Andrew Gee, said it’s exciting to see Lithgow Area Women’s Shed go from strength to strength.
“While you’re likely to find a Men’s Shed in most villages, towns and cities across Australia, Women’s Sheds are still few and far between – so it’s great to see that the movement, which encourages women to learn new skills, share ideas, and make new friends, is taking off in the Central West,” said Minister Gee.
“Since the idea of starting up a Women’s Shed in Lithgow was first raised in 2018, the group, spearheaded by President Leanne Hopkins, has created a unique opportunity for women right across the Seven Valleys to build skills, friendships, and confidence in a workshop environment.
“Since those early days, the group has been making do with makeshift sheds, by operating out of private homes, and setting up benches in demountables at the Greyhound Track.
“The group, who have a strong focus on learning to use power tools and developing construction skills, quickly rolled up their sleeves to build nest boxes for Eastern Pygmy Possums in the aftermath of the Gospers Mountain bushfire.
“I’m thrilled the Lithgow Area Women’s Shed will soon be able to offer even more people across the region a chance to get on the tools, with the group receiving a $2.1 million Australian Government grant to construct a shed to call their own.
“Thanks to the Federal Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program, the money is in the bank to design and construct a purpose built, environmentally sustainable and bushfire resistant women’s shed and multi-function space.
“The group will engage local businesses to complete the building, which will have finely filtered ventilation systems to ensure indoor air quality during a bushfire.
“It’s fantastic that once complete, the Lithgow Area Women’s Shed will be able to host regular tool-based workshops and professionally-led specialised workshops, and provide a great space for members to contribute to community and collaborative projects.
“The multi-function area will feature meeting and office space available for community use and business hire.
“I congratulate the Lithgow Area Women’s Shed on their successful grant application and look forward to seeing the group continue to grow and thrive as they enter this new chapter!” said Mr Gee.
The Greater Lithgow community bore the brunt of the 2019-20 bushfires, with residents still grappling with the long-term impacts of the natural disaster. The Gospers Mountain Fire was the largest forest blaze recorded in Australian history, burning more than 500,000 hectares.
“Our region was devastated by the bushfires and recovery is an ongoing process which is going to take years. We’ve already had previous rounds of significant bushfire recovery funding and this latest round recognises that we need to keep building through the recovery process,” said Minister Gee.
“With all of the other challenges we’ve had, we need to keep in mind that there are still many people struggling to get their lives, businesses, and organisations back on track.
“Recovery efforts and funding need to occur over the long term and that is what this latest round aims to do,” Mr Gee said.
The Lithgow Area Women’s Shed project is one of 18 projects in the Calare electorate awarded funding as part of the Australian Government’s $390 million Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program.
It is one of 524 community projects funded as part of the $390 million grants program, which was established to assist communities to recover from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. The Australian Government has added an additional $110 million to the program to provide extra support to those living in affected communities, including Lithgow.