People living in rural and remote areas of Victoria will be able to access free skin checks thanks to a new Ballarat-built trailer and program run by the Lions Club.
The skin check van, which had a test day in Haddon on Saturday, will travel across the state with trained volunteer dermascope operators on board to conduct free skin checks for potential skin cancers.
While not a diagnostic service, if any spots or lesions are found the patient will be referred to a medical professional for further investigation.
Lions V Districts Cancer Foundation chairman Bruce Hudgson said fundraising and philanthrophic donations smashed the initial $350,000 goal needed to build the trailer, with a further $110,000 raised on top of that which will go toward operating costs for the service.
The service currently receives no government funding, but Mr Hudgson is hopeful that might change.
Ballarat trailer manufacturers Brimarco built the large trailer, which contains three examination rooms and a reception area, in recent months and it was officially registered at VicRoads in Ballarat on Friday.
At Haddon Lions Reserve on Saturday, eight of the service's 21 volunteer dermascope operators got their first look at the van and about 20 local Lions club members had skin checks. Two had concerning spots and were advised to seek further medical advice.
It takes about 20 minutes for a full-body screening, and with three examination rooms running Mr Hudgson is hopeful it can check up to 50 people a day.
"Depending on volunteers we would like to have it running full time. We are not in a position to pay anyone ... but we it will run every weekend of the year and maybe get quite a few weekdays as well depending on the volunteers."
It's the first free service of its kind in Victoria, but Lions Clubs in Western Australia and South Australia have similar trailers in their states.
He praised Brimarco for the 'extras' they included on the van including wifi and other features "over and above" the original plans.
Mr Hudgson said the van would focus on servicing rural and remote communities where access to specialists is limited and expensive.
IN OTHER NEWS
"Our primary focus is rural and regional ... where they've got to travel a long distance, or many are a bit short of money these days and can't afford an appointment if they can get one.
"It's three months to get in for an appointment in Ballarat and that's pretty typical or regional and remote areas because sometimes dermatologists are not really visiting or resident, and a GP can check but will refer on ... and may not be as experienced as many of our volunteer dermascopists because they are not working with it all the time."
Our team of local journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the Ballarat community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: