Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Queensland has one of the highest breast cancer screening participation rates for indigenous women in Australia and while it is a good outcome, even more women are needed to take part in regular, two yearly screening to improve their health.

BreastScreen Queensland is continually reviewing its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategies, working closely with communities and local health workers to ensure local services are accessible, culturally sensitive and appealing to Indigenous clients.

BreastScreen Queensland staff participate in a wide variety of events, such as local NAIDOC celebrations, to keep health messages top of mind and help break down the barriers.

Role of the local health worker:

Local indigenous health workers play a very important role in promoting breast cancer awareness, education about the benefits of breast cancer screening, and women's health education in general. However, one of their key roles, in terms of breast cancer screening, is to provide reassurance and practical and emotional support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, helping women to make their breastscreen appointments, through to accompanying them on their breastscreen visit to the time they receive their results.

Key initiatives include:

  • Increased and more flexible mobile services for rural and remote areas
  • Offer group bookings
  • One-on-one support from female health workers
  • Offer Indigenous women only screening days at our services

Listen to the following testimonials from health workers who support their communities in many ways and have played a major role in increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in BreastScreen Queensland's screening program.

Sue Fatnowna, Mackay

Liela Muirson, Townsville

Maleta Nona, Torres Strait

Read the transcript of these health worker testimonials.

Having a breastscreen:

Not sure how to go about booking a breastscreen or what happens when you have one? Follow Auntie from the time she books her appointment to having her breastscreen and getting the results.

Read a transcript of Auntie's breastscreening story
Read Raima's story

The use of Indigenous artwork:

BreastScreen Queensland features indigenous artwork throughout its services, including on its mobile screening fleet and on resources and reports.

Artwork by artist Jordana Angus is about encouraging women to be screened rather than ending up having to scream for help. The woman represents those we have lost to breast cancer in the past as well as those we can save in the future through screening for the early detection of breast cancer.

The painting uses the hibiscus flower to portray the breast in an indirect fashion. This is important because it makes coming for screening acceptable, rather than a shameful or clinical experience. The diverse colour palette for this painting reflects the need for the mobile service to be welcoming to all women.

Benjamin Hodges is a young north Queensland artist who has experienced firsthand the impacts of breast cancer on the family. His artwork, Mutual Nurture, is of women representing three cultures: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander. The art depicts women with their arms linked to represent support and to show a woman is not alone in her suffering.

Last reviewed 13 June 2018 Last updated 15 June 2018

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