Men's Shed at Peter Mac

Treating the disease is one aspect of cancer care. Our Men’s Shed aims to reduce social isolation, improve wellbeing and provide an environment where experiences can be shared.

About Us

The Peter Mac Men’s Shed is the first shed in a Victorian hospital precinct offering our patients, carers and their families an opportunity to meet others undergoing, or caring for someone receiving medical treatment.

The Men’s Shed movement has now become one of the most powerful tools in addressing men’s health and wellbeing. Our shed offers a safe and supportive environment to connect with others undergoing similar experiences, contribute to the community and ultimately maintain more positive health and wellbeing during a time when they may be at high risk of feeling isolated. 

Membership is free.

For more information, please see the flyer.

Open times

The Men's Shed will be open to all Peter Mac patients, carers, family and friends between 10am - 3:00pm every Tuesday and Thursday.

Please call John Howarth on 0417 329 036 to let him know you will be attending.


Conveniently located across the road from Peter Mac within the Atira Apartments, the shed is a place where our people can escape the hospital environment, connect with others and contribute to their community. The Peter Mac Men's Shed is run in partnership with the Melbourne Men's Shed at Federation Square and so all members are entitled to visit either site.

 Peter Mac Men's Shed 

 Melbourne Men's Shed

 Atira Apartments
 Federation Square
 3 Bedford Place,
 North Melbourne
 Ground Level,
 Russell St Ext. Carpark,
 Open times
 Tuesday: 10am-3pm
 Thursday: 10am-3pm
 Monday: 10am-2pm
 Tuesday: 10am- 2pm & 5pm- 9pm
 Wednesday: 5pm - 9pm

Key Contacts

John Howarth, Men's Shed Project Officer

Christos Miras, Men's Shed Project Lead

Previous events

Casting for Recovery Retreat-Ballarat, Victoria
Monday 4 to Wednesday 6 April 2022

A retreat for Victorian women recovering from breast cancer. Visit Casting for Recorvery for more information.

Mending Casts Retreat- Marysville, Victoria
Monday 2 to Wednesday 4 May 2022

This inaugural collaborative retreat was sponsored Peter Mac Men's Shed and hosted by Mending Casts, specifically for male cancer patients.

Visit Mens Shed Fly Fishing Retreat for read all about it!

On Wednesday December 1, 2021, the Peter Mac Men's Shed was officially opened in its new home on the ground floor at Scape Group's, Atira Apartments. We are grateful to Scape Group for generously donating the space and look forward to welcoming many of Peter Macs patients, families and friends to our new home.

Our projects

Our members design, engineer and construct all of our projects.  You are invited to contribute to an ongoing project or bring your own project to work on in the shed.

Mobile Workbench

The workbench has been designed to fold down so that it can be easily transported around the hospital to serve as a ‘Pop-Up Men’s Shed’.

It was completed in August 2021 and the group enjoy seeing their project in use throughout the hospital, from clinic waiting rooms to the outdoor terraces. The Pop-Up Men’s Shed also has potential to tour the Peter Mac radiotherapy campuses with an ongoing project such as restoring a mini motor bike for future donation.

Didgeridoo and Emu caller stand 

Peter Mac's Music therapy team requested a stand be made to display our Didgeridoo and Emu Caller when they are not in use at the hospital. Our members did a great job designing a sturdy but attractive stand that can be wheeled around the hospital to deliver the instruments to patients in need of cultural music therapy.

Monthly guest speakers

The 'Men's Shed presents...' Series!

Each month the Men's Shed presents a guest speaker who facilitates different topics of discussion. These sessions happen via Zoom to ensure our men and women from all across the state can access this information and support online. 

These sessions give our patients, their carers, friends and family an opportunity to:

  • Hear from guest speakers and learn from our experts,
  • Learn about what's coming up at in the Peter Mac Men's Shed,
  • Meet and connect with other people going through similar cancer experiences,
  • Share information, experiences and interests, and seek support or referrals to services and programs if needed.

Click here to access the event page with details about our next meeting

For information about our previous speakers please click below.

The Men's Shed presents...

Listen to Mitchell discuss how to manage various medications, with an emphasis on pain management including:

  1. medication management techniques at home
  2. how to manage pain medicines in chronic pain
  3. safe storage  & disposal of medicines including pain medications

Janie Thompson from the Continence Foundation of Australia discussed the incidence of incontinence, what is normal bladder and bowel function, types of incontinence, continence assessment, good bladder and bowel habits as well as community continence services that are available to you outside fo Peter Mac.

You can watch here.

Listen to Peter Mac Psychologist Mei Tran discuss a program developed by Peter Mac Psychologist to help you manage the fear of cancer progression or recurrence. Fear of cancer recurrence or progression describes the worry about the possibility that cancer will return or progress.

You can watch the presentation here.

Peter Mac Social Worker, Susan Dragon joined us to provide some different strategies of dealing with the emotional impacts that cancer can have on you and your family members. 

To watch Susans presentation please click here.

John Billing, President of the Mending Casts Association joined us online for a QA session about an upcoming Fly FIshing Retreat that the Peter Mac Men's Shed are sponsoring. 

The retreats are run and coorindated by volunteers and are free for cancer patients to attend. 

Please visit for the latest information about upcoming retreats for both men and woman!

A fantastic session with Psychologist Jake Garvey who explained the factors that impact sleep, some common myths relating to sleep and simply strategies that can be implemented to improve the quality of you sleep. 

Watch here

Peter Mac's psychology team developed this resource for people with cancer 'Can-Sleep: Making night-time sleep problems go away' 

Speak to your treatment team about a referral to the Can-Sleep program run by Peter Mac Psychologists.

Websites to find out more about sleep.
The following websites provide further information on sleep:
Sleep Health Foundation
National Sleep Foundation (USA)
The Better Health Channel

In this session Tegan explains how to navigate Centerlink and the different financial support options that are available. She also speaks about Advanced Care Planning and why this is important for everyone. 

Click here to watch Tegans presentation

Tegan refers to many resources within her presentation, Here are the link to these helpful documents.

Nicole from the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre (ACSC) joined us to explain what supports are available to all people who have had a cancer diagnosis in Australia. Following a diagnosis and subsequent treatment it can be diffiecult to leave the security of a health service and transition back to life with a new normal. Click here to listen to Nicoles presentation. 

For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Peter Mac experts and specialist GP Jane Crowe joined us to discuss all things Prostate Cancer.

They covered signs and symptoms, treatments, mental health and we heard from men with a lived experience.

These are things every man should know.

Click here to watch the webinar

Here are some resources that were mentioned during the webinar:


Peter Mac collaborates with Inner Melbourne Community Legal (IMCL) to deliver a Health Justice Partnership. IMCL provides a free legal service to Peter Mac patients and carers, bringing about better outcomes. Click here to access a recording of Molly's presentation.

We know that people are almost twice as likely to ask a health and welfare professional for legal advice as they are to speak with a lawyer. Legal issues are often at the root of someone’s health, financial or social problem and they can make those problems worse.

The weekly Legal Clinic runs at Peter Mac Parkville's campus on Thursday mornings in the Social Work rooms on level 2. Patients recieving care at other Peter Mac campuses can access the service via phone.

To make an appointment you can speak to your social worker, go direct to their website or call 9013 0495.

This month we had the fantastic Jenelle Loeliger- Head of Nutrition & Speech Pathology Department present to our group. Click here to access a recording of the session.

Jenelle discussed the various nutrition issues experienced by people with cancer and the many ways that dieticians can support people along their cancer journey. Jenelle took us through the CanEAT pathway and her team’s plan to improve this pathway and develop a plethora of new resources for cancer patients and their families. For more Info on the CanEAT pathway click here CanEat Pathway

For Peter Mac patients wanting to be linked in with a dietician please speak to your treating team for a referral. 

Couldn’t make it? To watch the Carer’s Couch presentation please click here 

Are you or someone you know caring for a loved one with cancer? Have you ever wondered…. Where can carers access support services?
Carers Couch is a nurturing community and place to find tailored support. Carers Couch empowers family and friends of people with cancer to:

- Connect and create a support crew that will walk through the journey with you
- Discover the services/therapies available to the carer and access qualified experts suited to your needs
- Organise your day-to-day schedules to better self-care and care-assist those impacted by cancer.

If you are interested in finding out more about the services available through Carer’s Couch please complete this Carers Couch – Self Referral Form

Also, during this session, Alex from took us through the importance of practicing self-care and how relaxation and meditation practices can simply be thought of as ‘spending time with one’s self’. We thank Alex and Martina for their time!

To watch Ronnas presentation please click here 

"Cancer is rough. Cancer investigations and treatments are incredibly brutal. All this can lead to us seeing our bodies purely as a source of pain, of disease and of disappointment. We often store grief and trauma in the body, and this can show itself as pain with no obvious cause.

There are many benefits to Oncology Massage. It can relieve the pain often associated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. It can help with lymphoedema. It can nourish you emotionally, as your body is no longer purely a source of sadness. It helps us release grief and trauma, and work through them and their associated pain. It helps us recover from treatments, or if we’re doing an exercise program with an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist (and let’s be honest, all us cancer patients should be doing something along those lines). And - certainly not least -it’s something nice to look forward to!

For me, OM has at times made the difference to whether or not I could walk easily. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped with pain management and overall fatigue. It helps me feel like my body isn’t a complete let-down and that I can still get some pleasure from it. It also helps me enormously with my exercise program - I find stretching difficult at times, and a little bit of “meat tenderising” goes a long way. It’s definitely helped my mental health - I feel less anxious and depressed; also I firmly believe that as well as improving my quality of life, it’s increased the amount of time I have left. As far as I’m concerned, OM is value for money, no argument. Just don’t take all the appointment slots!

So why Oncology Massage specifically? Oncology Massage Therapists (OMTs) are specialist Massage Therapists (MTs). They have a higher level of required knowledge of anatomy, particularly the lymphatic system, of how cancer develops, of how to position patients with CVADs, and so much more than an ordinary MT, much less a worker at one of those shopping centre “massage centres”! OMTs place a high importance on communicating with their patients, so they won’t do anything that causes discomfort, pain, or even just embarrassment. Also, there’s no evidence that massage hastens metastatic spread, so you can be satisfied that treatment from a qualified OMT is safe." - Oncology Massage recipient 

Things you need to do before having your massage:

  1. Consult your oncologist/s
  2. If you’re being treated away from your cancer centre, get a letter from your oncologist/s with your diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as clearance to be massaged
  3. Always discuss your primary, your secondary diagnosis, and any surgery or implanted devices you have or have had, with your OMT If you need more information, you can find it here 

To book a massage with Ronna in our Wellbeing Centre (Ronna may also be able to visit you on the ward) please click here or email [email protected]

Ronna will assess information about your illness, the treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiotherapy) you have had or are having, any medications you regularly take and your current health. Ronna will also wish to know the reasons you are seeking massage therapy and your expectations about how it may support you. This information will guide the plan for your massage, and any necessary modifications, such as the location on your body, the pressure applied, and the duration of the session.

To find an Oncology Massage service in your community please click here

To watch the presentation about all the free services available through the Cancer Council Victoria and also listen to John talk about the Reel Recovery retreat that hes running on the 30th of April please click here.

Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) supports and services

Briony from Cancer Council Victoria spoke to us about what CCV achieves as an organisation but more specifically, these services that are available to each and every one of you.

Did you know Cancer Council Victoria provides the following services:

  • 13 11 20 The Support Line is staffed by experienced cancer nurses Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm or email [email protected]
  • 13 14 50 An Interpreter service is also available to support people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Cancer Council Victoria connects people with over 120  different support groups across the state, and they all cater for different kinds of people
  • Cancer Connect is a oneon-one peer support program that matches patients with a trained volunteer who has been through the same or similar cancer and treatment, of similar age, life-style and family circumstances.
    • Family connect – for carers
    • Gene Connect - for people who’ve discovered they have a higher likelihood of developing cancer due to their genetic makeup.
    • Trial Connect - connects people who are considering participation in a clinical trial with a trained volunteer who has been through at least one clinical trial.
  • Victorian Cancer Trials Link, can assist people in searching for available clinical trials across Victoria (including rural and regional trials) and provide a source of general information about clinical trials.
    • Other resources include a suite of videos, which detail the experiences and advice of four people who have previously participated in a clinical trial.
  • Cancer Education Programs (CEP) are group based supportive care and education programs developed for those affected by cancer, their carers, families and friends. The programs run through hospitals all over the state and provide information, education, practical strategies and the opportunity for participants to connect with others affected by cancer. 
  • The Holiday Break Program provides families with a short break away at no cost so they can share quality time with loved ones, away from the hectic schedule of appointments and cancer treatments. You can also donate the use of your holiday home to this program.
  • Cancer Council Victoria offers a free wig service for men and women experiencing cancerrelated hair loss.
  • Their financial counselling program provides people affected by cancer with access to a financial counsellor who can provide practical advice and guidance to help manage the cost of cancer. They act as a confidential, independent advocate and coach, to empower people through information, so they can make informed decisions about their health and longterm financial security.
  • Four pro bono programs are available for those experiencing financial hardship as the result of their cancer diagnosis:
    • Legal referral service
    • Financial planning referral service
    • Workplace advice service
    • Small business advice service
  • Cancer Council has more than 100 booklets and fact sheets available free to anyone impacted by cancer. The cancer information is developed for patients, carers, health professionals, workplaces, schools and community groups. Many are translated into more than 28 languages and some are provided in plain or easy English for differing levels of education.
    • Plain English is the English that is used in good writing and clear communication. It is the level of English fluency that should be achieved by the time people start high school.
    • Easy English concentrates on key points, uses simple (or one-clause) sentences, has minimal punctuation and illustrates each point.
  • Cancer Council has created a Cancer Services Guide that lists many services available to Victorians affected by cancer. The guide contains 472 services across three main sections:
    • Health services and information
    • Practical support
    • Health and wellbeing

Reel Recovery retreat

John spoke to us about a great fly fishing retreat he is running at the end of April. Mending Casts is a non-profit organisation which promotes the health and well-being benefits of Fly Fishing and Fly Casting to people dealing with cancer. They are running a weekend retreat in Omeo, from 30th April – 2nd May April called ‘Reel Recovery’. Though only a few days in duration, a Reel Recovery retreat can be a life-changing event for men living with cancer. The program blends outdoor activity with directed conversations to create a unique environment conducive to relaxed, open interactions and this weekend will be the first time the program has been run outside of the USA and NZ! Please see the flier attached for more details, space is limited so please contact John via [email protected] ASAP if you are interested.

To access a recording of Oliver's presentation and the discussion around the fear of cancer recurrence or progression please click here.

Oliver acknowledged so many fears that can contribute to these anxieties and highlighted so many important strategies. It is really worth a look if you were unable to join the conversation. 

I have added Olivers slides to the resources at the bottom of this page.

Click here to access Prues presentation - Excerise Medicine 

We heard from the CEO of Healthy Male, Simon von Saldern.  Here is the link to Simons presentation about Spanner in the Works.

Information following our discussion

A big thank you to Professor Declan Murphy for his time. We’ve recorded Declan’s talk - Click here to listen. For those interested in listening to more of what Declan has to say about the world of Genitourinary Oncology and Urology you can find his podcast here.

In response to some of your questions, here’s some information you might find useful:

  • Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre – We have an entire department at Peter Mac dedicated to Survivorship. You can find information about their programs and events via this link Cancer Survivorship. You may also be particularly interested in this page, Life After Treatment. Remember, you can always call the Survivorship department directly if you have more specific requirements (03) 8559 6220.
  • Cancer Council have a whole suite of services available to you, particularly Living Well After Cancer and Wellness and Life After Cancer.
  • For Peter Mac patients seeking support from our Psychology Team, simply call our Psychology Reception at 03 8559 5220 during office hours or email [email protected]. For non-Peter Mac patients, we suggest speaking with your treating team about a referral to your hospital’s Psychology Team or community services.