21.10.2021Men’s Shed Opening at Peter Mac Cancer Centre

To kick off the Future Focus Group (FFG) 25th birthday celebrations, we are looking back on some of the Program’s notable projects. Click the link below to read the interview between Kellie Badge, Co-founder, Forensic Solutions Litigation Support and Geri McDonald, Director of Wellbeing at Peter Mac (both FFG Alumni from the class of 2017 – 2018) on the Men’s Shed at Peter Mac FFG Project.

The Men’s Shed at Peter Mac project addressed social isolation and mental health for men attending the Peter Mac Cancer Centre for care or the Parkville Precinct for other health services.

This interview was written and conducted by Kellie Badge. Kellie participated in the Future Focus Group in 2017 – 2018 and has gone on to be a key member of the Future Focus Group Alumni Network.

Kellie Badge is an experienced forensic accountant providing litigation services for family law and commercial disputes including expert reports with business valuations and economic loss assessments. Kellie was made Partner at Grant Thornton during the FFG Program and in 2020, co-founded boutique litigation support firm, Forensic Solutions Litigation Support.

Kellie Badge: I recently sat down with Geri MacDonald, Director of Wellbeing at Peter Mac, one of my team members from my time with the Committee for Melbourne Future Focus Group Program, to reminisce about the creation of our team’s project and how it has evolved post-graduation. A key learning I took from the Program was to have courage to ask for a person’s input when running a project idea by them. This often resulted in a broader way of viewing the potential of the FFG project, an introduction to a helpful contact and the vital funding that led to the project’s success. On that note, let’s hear more from Geri…

1.      When did you complete the FFG Program?

November 2018

2.      Can you tell us a little bit about the project?

The project focussed on addressing social isolation and poor mental health for men attending the Peter Mac Cancer Centre for care or Parkville precinct for other health services. We partnered with Melbourne Men’s Shed based at Fed Square which has been really important for us, as it provides us with a formal governance model and the expertise of the team.

It’s so exciting to see it up and running despite COVID and with the formal launch in November we are thrilled to announce another key partner, Scape. Scape provides student housing, predominantly to international students and of course, due to COVID, they are currently at very low occupancy. Peter Mac has partnered with Scape to accommodate country patients travelling to Melbourne for treatment. When Scape heard about Men’s Shed they offered some space in their Atira building directly across from Peter Mac. We are so grateful for their wonderful generosity.

3.      One of the challenges of a FFG project is zero budget. How did the team generate financial support?

We were very lucky we applied for grants and were successful in receiving $180k from Pick My Project an initiative of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. We also received a $20k from City of Melbourne. Bunnings has kindly supplied us with tools and equipment.

4.      At what stage of completion was Men’s Shed at the time you graduated from the FFG Program?

Early stage. We were still negotiating space requirements and exploring a partnership with Melbourne Men’s Shed. Things have definitely moved forward since then and we now partnering with Melbourne Men’s Shed and Scape.

5.      Who was the team’s transfer partner and was this a natural progression/fit?

I was the transfer partner as the Men’s Shed development came under Peter Mac’s Prevention & Wellbeing portfolio, so it was a natural fit.

6.      What progress has been made on the Men’s Shed Project since graduating FFG?

Since graduating, we have secured a location, established MOUs with our partners, employed project staff and commenced programs. To date, we have established a men’s peer support group, weekly visits to the Melbourne Men’s Shed at Fed Square and partnered with Reel Recovery who run fly fishing weekends away for men with cancer. We also run monthly education sessions around cancer and healthcare with expert speakers.

7.      What obstacles have popped up during this time and how did the project adapt?

The space and location has been challenging. Finding a location onsite at Peter Mac has been difficult given space requirements for COVID safety meant that the hospital was full. Partnering with Scape has been fantastic. They have been very generous in offering us space and fitting the space out for the Shed.

8.      What does the short-term future hold for the project?

Our official launch is scheduled for November. We are thrilled that Minister Luke Donnellon will be joining us on the day.

9.      Can you share a good news story that has come from the Men’s Shed at Peter Mac?

Reflection from Bruce

“I was a bit sceptical when I attended the Peter Mac Men’s Shed for the first time in early 2021. But I was wrong. It was nothing like what I thought it would be.

I met interesting men and in a neutral environment. It didn’t matter that my mother had once rather nastily said to me when I was a teenager “you cannot even hammer a nail in straight”. I was amongst people who accepted me for who I was now.

We didn’t talk about football or cricket. We had the opportunity, if we wished, to talk about our cancer experiences. We simply enjoyed each other’s company, as we worked on different projects that had been assigned to the group.

I encourage all people (who identify as men, women or other), of all ages and from all
backgrounds, to consider coming along at least once, to visit and enjoy the experience of the Peter Mac Men’s Shed.”

10.   How can members of Committee for Melbourne follow the Men’s Shed at Peter Mac’s journey and assist in creating awareness for future users?

Once we have launched, we will have a social media handles available. We are also in the process of developing a communication strategy that will assist in increasing awareness.

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