In June 2016, Freemasons Foundation Victoria announced funding of $750,000, to be distributed over three years, to Australian Prostate Cancer Research. This was a landmark in masonic benevolence – never before had Victorian Freemasonry made such a substantial multi-year commitment to men’s health.
But it was an important one! Prostate Cancer is a long neglected area in men’s health. It is a little known and little publicised fact that more men in Australia die each year of prostate cancer than women with breast cancer. The startling reality is that one in six men in Australia are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 10% of those will die from the disease. However, thanks to dramatic improvements in testing and treatment, the chance of surviving beyond five years is now 95%.
Recently, representatives from FFV had the opportunity to get an update, in person, on the impacts of the funding.
The Australian Prostate Centre (APC) offers world class prostate cancer care, with two very important priorities: firstly, that care is available, regardless of insurance status. APC is Australia’s first public healthcare facility dedicated to the comprehensive treatment of men and their families affected by prostate cancer. And secondly, that it operates as a one-stop-shop to diagnose, treat and offer all the ancillary back up required to treat prostate cancer. Having the one setting for all services patients may require helps to reduce the mental anxiety that can accompany a diagnosis, and reduces delays involved in scheduling tests, receiving results, scheduling follow-up appointments. Even post-operative care tends to happen across numerous locations and with different practitioners.
In contrast, the Day Procedure Centre at APC coordinates care every step along the way, beginning with an appointment with an in-house general practitioner. APC can even arrange accommodation for country patients and their families.
FFV funding meant a large increase to the diagnostic equipment available for diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer at the APC’s North Melbourne centre. The grant enabled APC to deliver diagnosis, treatment and support for 25,000 Victorian men who have no health insurance, at a custom-designed Freemasons outpatient procedure wing that avoids long wait times and admission to hospital. Moreover, they can offer essential supportive care to men and their families including allied health and psychological support in the same setting. The FFV funding was leveraged, helping APC to gain additional funding to their genetic research program.
The partnerships also raised awareness of prostate cancer among Freemasons and the wider public with men’s health check promotions that included Lodge visits and presentations, a series of living well short videos, health sections in FMV Journals and a campaign bus!
At the conclusion of the FFV funding, then Chairman, Michael Andrew AO, wrote:
“More than 12,000 men and their families have visited the APC clinic, many whom are under-insured and disadvantaged by the public health system.
Your generous contributions over the past three years have kept us moving forward and achieving significant and positive impact on the lives of many Australian men and their families.
We are extremely grateful of the support of Freemasons Foundation Victoria Limited.”
Since that report, the number of men and their families that have been supported by this facility has more than doubled to 25,000.