When we've finished we will let you know... but here are some tips to start
Spell it correctly - it's a women's shed, not a womens shed ;-). Get this right at the beginning !
Start slowly and build a team of women that have different backgrounds, skills and interests. Focus on creating activities that you want to do together - some will need to be taught, others can be just meeting up e.g. walking groups. Establish a community of women before committing to the legal side. This could be as simple as creating a Facebook Group, or starting a 'meetup' group.
There is no rule book, but there are lots of laws. The variety of women's shed models is as diverse as the activities we are interested in. We are an incorporated association in Queensland. Incorporation offers many advantages such as limiting the liability of the committee, and being able to sign leases or take out loans as an organisation and not an individual. Incorporation also brings with it governance requirements such as having a minimum number of committee meetings, membership structures, how the management committee is appointed etc. We have found the help and advice available freely on www.nfplaw.org.au invaluable and recommend that any Women's Shed review the information available here.
Be realistic - it takes a lot of work to create an organisation like this, and to keep it running -and a whole other bunch of work to fund your own building.
Find a great treasurer - the whole management committee needs to understand the finances of the women's shed - having a treasurer that can keep track and meet the requirements is more important than having a President.
Empower your members to direct activities by having clear guidance available in different formats - e.g. on the web and as a paper manual.
Make friends with your local Men's Shed..... Men's Shed members have a wealth of knowledge about running a Shed organisation, how things work locally, who to buy the sausages from for the sausage sizzle(!) We have had offers of support and teaching from our local Men's Shed. We currently hire space from the local Men's Shed to limit our costs and commitments.
Respect boundaries . There is one men's shed that we know of that accepted women as members. Another allowed women to use the shed on the days that they weren't there, so it became a shared facility. However there are many reasons why members of men and women's sheds prefer to keep the membership single sex. Maybe they feel self conscious in front of members of the other sex, maybe they have been a victim of domestic violence. Our shed runs some events that can be attended by men or may be taught by men, but our policy is that you should assumes the event will be all female unless explicitly mentioned.
Support other Women's Sheds - feel free to check out our resources here. Currently there is no peak body for Australian Women's Sheds. We hope that one day we can be part of founding that peak body, (but also see rules 1 - 3) so that we can lobby on behalf of the Women's Shed movement and provide funding and support to Women's Sheds.
Understand that Women's Sheds don't have to just do DIY and car care . Women have a variety of skills they would like to share and learn.
Women's Shed and Men's Sheds have a common goal - to reduce isolation and increase connection. It is your shed's journey to decide how to get there.
Avoid relying on one person - if one person does all the work they will probably burn out, leave or both. Try to document processes and policies so that other members can take charge and help.
Remember that the Women's Shed is for fun, and if members or volunteers start to feel like it's an obligation you will lose them sooner or later
Women's Sheds are unique because they are the only space where women can come together at any lifestage, engage in a variety of activities from yoga to macrame and connect with other women in an all female environment. Connections with other women form quickly as you see the same faces at a variety of activities - you will always see someone you know.
Accept that people will come and go, but that they should always feel welcome to return.
That's all we have for you now - we are still in the process of setting up our shed. Make sure you join the facebook group to get in touch with other #sheddies. We will update this page when we can :-)
Most activities are run from the Coolum Men's Shed Community Centre. 26 Research Street, Coolum 4573 QLD