Q and A with the new president of Ben’s Shed Yarra Junction, Greg Burnham

Ben's Shed in Yarra Junction's new president Greg Burnham. Picture: SUPPLIED

Question 1. What is something people don’t know about you?

Most people who know me are aware that I had a lengthy military career as an Army Officer in the Royal Australian Engineers. Most would not know that as a result of following that career path, my wife and I had sixteen residential moves in our first sixteen years of married life, some of which took us interstate.

Question 2. Tell us about your role as the new president of Ben’s Shed?

It goes without saying that the role of the President of Ben’s Shed is wide in scope but in essence, it is to lead the effort to deliver the vision and values of the Shed for the benefit of the members and the community.

As far as I can ascertain, the role of the President of any association (and Ben’s Shed is no different) is to work closely with the other committee members to determine the overall goals of the association and to set in motion actions to achieve these goals.

To be able to fulfill this role, I must start by having a good understanding of the association’s governing documents and a sense of the history of the association as well as a feel for its culture and raison d’etre.

In the broadest view, I am responsible for the association’s fiscal well being and governance through guiding the budget process, making sure reserves are adequate for likely

contingencies, and that adequate insurance coverage is in place to protect the association from liabilities. I see the development of the committee members, potential volunteers, and future

association leaders as also key to the role. Maintaining close working relationships with external agencies and other associations and being the public face of the Shed are all activities that will go a long way to ensuring the efficient and harmonious operation of the Shed.

With the input of the committee, I need to set prioritized goals for the Shed which in turn will help direct the efforts of the committee. I believe that clearly defined goals within a strategic framework contributes to the success of any organization and Ben’s Shed is no different in this regard.

Lastly, with the assistance of the Secretary, I am responsible for preparing meeting agendas and making certain that proper meeting protocols are used. Overall governance of management processes falls on the President.

Question 3. What has been your most memorable moment with a Men’s Shed? Why?

I have only been a member of Ben’s Shed for some three years but my first Shed Christmas Party a couple of years back before COVID is my most memorable moment to date. It was a most enjoyable, inclusive afternoon (remembering that I was a ‘new chum’ at that time) that demonstrated the camaraderie and friendships that exist within the group. It provided me with a sense of belonging and a desire to be part of something that will persevere for a long time.

Question 4. What do you love most about living in the Yarra Ranges?

The best part of living in the Yarra Ranges is the peace and solitude you can get while at the same time, having a sense of community. The significant townships along the Warburton Highway are vibrant and inviting with plenty of opportunities to self-indulge, be it with coffee or food.

I have also found that the people living in the Shire create a feeling of belonging and inclusiveness that is not to be found in the more urban suburbs of Melbourne. It is as if each of our small townships are discrete communities with their own identities and yet we are all part of the Yarra Ranges.

Question 5. What are some of your hobbies?

My hobby interests include caravanning, traveling, flyfishing and would you believe it, making wooden toys. The wife and I have done one lap of the country and still have a lot of places to

see. It was through my interest in making toys that I initially joined Ben’s Shed thinking that I might get some useful tips from the other members.

Question 6. What event, past, present, or future, would you like to witness?

I would have liked to witness the speech given by Gough Whitlam on the steps of what is now Old Parliament House after his dismissal as Prime Minister by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975.

I was in my final year at the Royal Military College and felt the constitutional tensions in Canberra around that time just before graduating in early December.

Question 7. Who do you admire the most?

General Sir John Monash, GCMG, KCB, VD ( 27 June 1865 – 8 October 1931). He was a prominent civil engineer and an Australian military commander of the First World War. He commanded the 4th Brigade in the Gallipoli campaign and the newly raised 3rd Division in northwestern France before becoming commander of the Australian Corps in May 1918. Monash is considered our best leader of the First World War and the most famous commander in Australian history.

After the First World War, Monash was able to transition to a civilian career and worked in prominent engineering positions, the most notable being head of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) from October 1920. He was also vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne from 1923 until his death eight years later. A true leader, scholar, and gentleman.

Question 8. What is an important issue in the region you think needs exposure?

I suppose from a resident’s perspective, the most important issue within the region is the condition of our sealed roads. The Warburton Highway is of particular concern because of the volume of traffic it carries and the numerous pot-holes which continue to cause extreme damage to vehicle tires and wheel rims.

There are also a large number of local roads across the Shire that need significant attention and without which, will continue to degrade at an increasing rate.