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Giving Indigenous Australians a fair go in the fight against cancer

Monday 14 July, 2008

Prof. David Hill with Shane CharlesDuring NAIDOC week, The Cancer Council Victoria will be raising awareness of the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians (currently 17 years*), celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history, and recognising the importance of establishing partnerships with the Victorian Indigenous community.

The theme for NAIDOC week is Advance Australia Fair?, which encourages people to reflect on the Australian principle of ‘a fair go' and to consider the health inequalities still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia today.

"Cancer mortality rates among the Indigenous population are alarmingly high, with Indigenous Australians twice as likely to die within five years of cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians," said The Cancer Council Victoria's director, Professor David Hill.

"NAIDOC week provides an opportunity for the Cancer Council Victoria to highlight its ongoing commitment to raising awareness of cancer prevention and early detection in the Victorian Indigenous community. It also reminds us that we still have a long way to go," said Prof Hill.

The Cancer Council Victoria has undertaken a number of initiatives to spread the word about cancer prevention and early detection in the Victorian Indigenous community, these include:

  • developing a range of culturally appropriate resources (all resources use local Indigenous artwork, are developed in consultation with community members and are provided free of charge to Aboriginal health services).
  • training Aboriginal health workers about the importance of cancer prevention.
  • organising and hosting cancer awareness forums in the community.
  • working with Aboriginal health services.
  • the Cancer Council Victoria also has staff dedicated to coordinating Aboriginal Education and Tobacco Control Programs

Shane Charles, a respected Yorta Yorta artist and musician, played the didgeridoo and delivered the Welcome to Country at the Cancer Council's staff meeting on Wednesday 8 July, and Gunditjmara elder Aunty Bunta Patten prepared traditional damper for staff members to taste.

Culturally appropriate resources developed especially for the Indigenous community include:

  • Men's business brochure and poster
  • Take the lead: be breast aware brochure
  • Healthy Women Strong Communities cervical cancer prevention flipchart
  • Protecting Our Mob with the cervical cancer vaccine brochure and poster
  • Pap tests prevent cancer of the cervix brochure
  • What if my Pap test is abnormal?

All resources can be ordered free of charge through this site on our resources order page or by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.The Cancer Council also recommends BreastScreen Victoria's DVD, Merindah Bibi, Tracking Back to Better Health. The purpose of the DVD is to help Indigenous Health Workers promote breast health and breast cancer screening within their communities. To request a copy call Tracey Johnston on: (03) 9660 6859 or email

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