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New plan to improve cancer outcomes in Victorian Aboriginal communities

Tuesday 10 March, 2015

Improving the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians is the driving force behind Cancer Council Victoria's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launched today, Tuesday 10 March.

Aboriginal* people experience significantly poorer health outcomes than the wider Australian population. It's estimated that the current gap in overall life expectancy is about 11 years fewer for men and 10 years fewer for women.

More than 100 Victorian Aboriginal men and women are diagnosed with cancer each year. Mortality rates are significantly higher than for non-Aboriginal Victorians for both men and women1.

Cancer Council Victoria's CEO Todd Harper said the organisation's RAP cements its commitment to reducing these disparities.

"We want to actively contribute to achieving health equality and improved life expectancy for Victorian Aboriginal communities, and to reduce the impact of cancer in the community."

The plan (utilising Reconciliation Australia's framework) sets out steps the organisation will take to build relationships, demonstrate respect and create opportunities for Victorian Aboriginal communities across Cancer Council's work in research, prevention, support and advocacy.

Cancer Council's commitments include delivering cultural safety training for employees and key volunteers, creating culturally appropriate messaging when promoting services so the Victorian Aboriginal community feels safe, and to partner with Aboriginal stakeholders when developing and delivering programs and services that involve the community.

This is an extension of Cancer Council's current work such as the provision of training to Aboriginal Health Workers, setting up Aboriginal cancer support groups, and increasing Aboriginal community awareness of prevention programs including PapScreen and Quit.

"The Plan also represents Cancer Council's commitment to diversity and Closing the Gap by having a workforce that reflects and appreciates the diversity of all employees and volunteers within the organisation and the Victorian community," Mr Harper said.

Cancer Council will continue to work with Victorian Aboriginal communities and organisations, including the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), to improve cancer outcomes in the community.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO said a RAP was important to underpin the culturally safe delivery of care "Reconciliation Action Plans are one important step in an ongoing process for mainstream agencies to be better equipped to reduce the impact of cancer in our community," she said.

The launch of Cancer Council's RAP will take place from 10am at 615 St Kilda Road, Melbourne on Tuesday, 10 March. It will also be a celebration of Cancer Council Victoria's newly commissioned Aboriginal artwork by artist Dixon Patten Jnr. Yorta Yorta, Gunnai.

View Cancer Council Victoria's RAP in full

* Where the term Aboriginal is used in this document, it is inclusive of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

[1] Cancer Council Victoria. Cancer Facts: Cancer in Aboriginal Victorians. March 2015