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Uncle Jack Charles: from big screen to bowel screen

Thursday 24 May, 2018

Aboriginal actor, musician, potter and performer Uncle Jack Charles is the voice and face of a new animation which is aiming to increase cancer screening in Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are less likely than non-Indigenous Australians to participate in the national bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening programs, 1 and the animation,
created by Cancer Council Victoria, is helping to close the gap.

Uncle Jack stars in the animation with his yellow electric bike, his transport of choice.

'“As we get on in years our bodies, just like my bike, can start to change – squeak, toot and rattle!” Uncle Jack said.

"Cancer screening can help us stay healthy and deadly by picking up on any nasty changes, before it’s too late.

“But at the moment too many members of our mob are missing out on cancer screening.”

Data from AIHW shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are more likely to be diagnosed with cancers that can be prevented or detected early through screening - including breast,
bowel and cervical cancer. 1

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Indigenous Australians. 1

Cancer Council Victoria Manager of Priority Communities Charissa Feng said the disparity could be due to low participation in cancer screening programs.

“Early detection of cancer increases the chances of it being successfully treated,” she said.

“For bowel cancer, the rate of successful treatment is as high as 90 per cent if it’s found early.”

Yet estimates show that less than a quarter (23.5 per cent) of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in bowel screening, compared to 41 per cent of the general population. 1

“As a community, we need to do everything we can to give Aboriginal people access to cancer screening programs that could potentially save their life,” Ms Feng said.

The animation will be shared by Cancer Council Victoria as part of a social media campaign currently running on facebook.

Uncle Jack’s message for his mob is simple: “If you’re aged over 50, speak to your doctor or Aboriginal Health Worker about cancer screening – it could save your life,” he said.

  1. Cancer in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, AIHW 2018.