The Rotary Club of Port Fairy, in partnership with the Lions Club of Port Fairy-Belfast and the Port Fairy Men's Shed, held a Men's Health Forum in the Community Services Centre in Port Fairy on 27th November 2014.
Over 50 people (both men and women) attended the forum that showcased a number of keynote speakers who delivered informative presentations and was followed up by a short panel discussion session and ended with a supper.  The evening was MC'd by John Clue, the President of the Rotary Club.
The Forum was organised by all three service groups and was designed to promote better awareness and early intervention of some common men's ailments. The focus of the evening was on depression, early identification and treatment of stroke and prostate cancer. Before the formal session began, representatives from the Koroit Centre of Moyne Health Services provided valuable documentation and advice on health related issues including diet and good advice in the booklet  they handed out called "Men's Health Tool Kit" published by Foundation 49.  All participants were given a "show bag" of valuable literature covering stroke, prostate cancer, depression and general well-being.
Beyond Blue Ambassador, Paul Walshe, is a retired police detective who spoke openly about his battles with depression brought on by the strain of the job in the police force despite the fact that he loved his job.  His key message was to not be closed about the problems.  He encouraged people to seek help - of professionals, family, friends and work colleagues - who he admitted all provided great support at different levels. Being in what is often viewed as a macho occupation, he initially carried the burden that "to admit he had problems" would be seen as a sign of weakness yet, in hindsight, seeking help earlier was the best thing he could have done.  He has now retired from the police force but lives an active and enjoyable life assisting young people in DOXA and is also helping Beyond Blue in his ambassadorial role.

Local Ambulance Victoria officer,  Peter McCormick, gave an ambulance officer's insight into the early signs of and symptoms prior to the onset of a stroke event and emphasised the need for early intervention.  In this regard he could not encourage people any harder than to call 000 as the first priority in any circumstance where a life threatening or potential life threatening incident occurs.  He stated that by the time you thought about possibly ringing 000, and getting an ambulance to the scene, it was probably time wasted.
He spoke about the four point test for stroke being F.A.S.T. (check Face for any drooping of the mouth, check the Arms - can the patient lift both arms?, Speech - is their speech slurred? Do they understand you? and Time - time is critical.)  If you see any of these signs immediately ring 000. Peter reinforced his plea to always err on the side of ringing 000 and getting an ambulance to the scene ASAP. If you took the patient by car to a local hospital or medical centre the local establishment may not be equipped to handle some acute cases like stroke and then an ambulance has to be subsequently called to transport the patient to a more appropriate facility. An ambulance officer would know this in advance and make the most appropriate decision and also be equipped to provide immediate care during the journey.

Dr. Cameron Mc Pherson​ from the Port Fairy Medical Centre gave an enlightening presentation about what is often a contentious topic concerning the early diagnosis of prostate cancer or prostate related illnesses.  He gave a concise summary of the stepped diagnosis that a doctor would go through to try to identify the severity of any prostate related condition from the risk factors such as genetic background, checking for an enlarged prostate by rectal examination, the PSA blood test and finally, if all the above give an indication of an underlying problem, a biopsy taken from the prostate gland.  He emphasised that although the PSA test may be indicative of a prostate problem the test is not 100% definitive as other factors can cause a higher PSA count.  He went on to cover the ways in which a cancer can be treated and emphasised that not all prostate cancers or conditions are life threatening but in some case a prostate cancer can get into the bones which then makes the matter serious.  He encouraged men who were having urination problems to seek early intervention by a doctor so that the causes can be identified.  He contrasted the call for a prostate screening test to mirror screenings for breast and bowel cancers but, because of the underlying uncertainty about the preliminary tests, and the fact that the biopsy is the only true indicator, then a screening test for prostate is still some way off. 
Warrnambool's  Vicki Jellie​ has been "front and centre" in raising awareness for a cancer treatment centre in the south west of Victoria and has successfully lobbied government and the community to raise the $25M funds for a centre. Consequently, she can now look back at circumstances that led to the "Peter's Project" campaign and this was a more personal reflection on her former husband's fight with cancer.  She spoke openly about the early symptoms that her husband Peter went through, the early denial and his attitude that "it will be alright" before realising that perhaps what he was actually doing was putting on a strong front to protect Vicki and his daughters.  It was an intriguing story for all present who knew the public face of Vicki during her Peter's Project campaign but did not fully appreciate the more personal side of living with a loved one who was fighting cancer and the challenges it raised.
The evening then took a different tack by introducing local identities Geoff Barker from the Port Fairy Men's Shed and RF (Reg) Harry OAM,  Chairman of the Moyneyana Festival Committee, who gave an insight into their personal battles and survival of prostate cancer and stroke respectively.  Both men are well known for their community service but little was known by the community on how they survived their life threatening ordeals.  Geoff delivered a graphic tale of his detection of prostate cancer and the treatment undergone and still being supplemented today.  Reg's stroke was in 1991 but his description of the symptoms he remembered helped to reinforce the message given by Peter McCormick earlier in the evening and emphasised the need for early intervention and diagnosis.  Both men are a testament that, with good medical support and a strong will, you can survive and beat these illnesses and go on to continue meaningful and productive lives.
The formal part of the evening concluded with a short panel session where the key speakers addressed questions from the floor before retiring for a well earned supper that had been prepared by the ladies from the Rotary and Lions Clubs.  Before closing the formal session, the Lions Club President, Peter Down, thanked all speakers and presented them with a small gift in appreciation of their contribution to the forum.