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New partnership to focus on preventing cancer in Victoria's multicultural communities

Wednesday 12 March, 2014

The Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria (ECCV) and Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve cancer outcomes in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and to guide development of future programs and research initiatives.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper and the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria Executive Officer Ross Barnett signed the MOU in a special ceremony this morning.

Mr Harper said: "Victoria is one of the most culturally diverse states in Australia and we're committed to providing the best possible cancer information, prevention, support and research to reduce the impact of cancer in culturally diverse communities."

"Almost a quarter of cancer diagnoses in Victoria are in people born in non-English speaking countries. One way that we can reduce this statistic is to improve cancer screening rates in culturally diverse communities. Cancer screening is important in preventing and detecting cancer, which can improve survival rates and cancer outcomes. In fact, about 90% of bowel cancers are cured if detected and treated at an early stage and 90% of cervical cancers are preventable with two yearly Pap tests."

"Not only do these communities have lower participation rates in screening programs as compared to the general population, they also have lower participation in supportive care programs, which offer optimal cancer care to diagnosed patients."

Mr Barnett said: "Health literacy is an issue which ECCV advocates very strongly about. To be health literate is to have knowledge and choice."

"For culturally diverse communities in Victoria, the problem of low-health literacy needs to be tackled via targeted strategies and resources, as this is the only way to overcome exacerbating factors such as language and literacy barriers, differing cultural perceptions of health, culturally unresponsive services and the lifestyle upheavals that can accompany migration and settlement."

"Reducing cancer prevalence, morbidity and mortality rates related to culturally diverse communities is a priority for both our organisations. This collaborative effort will ensure that both our organisations work together to address the health disparities currently present in culturally diverse communities by improving health literacy around cancer prevention and treatment. One new initiative is the availability of free bilingual health facilitator sessions on how to Quit smoking. This means a health facilitator can visit your community and explain the benefits quitting in your language."

For more information about cancer in your language or to book a Quit smoking session for your community, visit For interview opportunities please contact: ECCV: Jessica Rath,, (03) 9349 4122 CCV: Cairín Conway, (03) 9514 6403 M: 0406 524 562