Sistas, get checked! Community event at Rumbalara supports Aboriginal women to put their health first

Cancer Council Victoria, BreastScreen Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) have joined forces to host a unique health event for Aboriginal women in the Shepparton area on Wednesday 13 November.

The community-led project highlights the importance of cancer screening for women, with information about culturally safe and accessible options for the Aboriginal community.

Cancer Council Victoria worked with Madison Connors, an Aboriginal artist from the Shepparton area, to create artwork depicting the cervical screening experience which will be on show at the event.

Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Cancer Council Victoria, Andrea Casey, said the artwork will encourage Aboriginal women aged 25-74 to have cervical screening.

“We hope that this initiative helps women to feel positively about screening so that we can close the gap and increase the numbers of women being screened.” said Mrs Casey.

We know that if cervical cancer is detected early through screening, successful treatment is more likely. Regular screening is the best way to stay healthy.”

BreastScreen Victoria’s hot pink van, known as “Marjorie” will also be at the event, to give free breast screens to women aged 50 and over. The first 50 Aboriginal women will receive a free cultural screening shawl to wear during the mammogram, and to take home with them.

These shawls have been developed to make breast screening more comfortable for Aboriginal women across Victoria, with Shepparton’s shawl featuring a design by Bangerang and Gunditjmara artist, Rebecca Atkinson.

BreastScreen Victoria CEO, Vicki Pridmore, said that the shawl initiative was a culmination of months of hard work and planning with project partner VACCHO.

“We hope that the beautiful shawls created by Aboriginal artists for this project can assist women screening to feel comfortable, welcome and respected,” Ms Pridmore said.

“When found early, breast cancer can be treated very successfully. This visit has been organised with our partners at VACCHO and Rumbalara to make sure that Aboriginal women in Shepparton have access to a potentially life-saving breast screen,” said Ms Pridmore.

The women’s health event is at Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative (Harmony Building), 20 Rumbalara Road, Mooroopna on Wednesday 13 November from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

The art show will be on display at Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative from Tuesday 12 November until Thursday 14 November. The BreastScreen Victoria mobile screening van will be visiting Rumbalara from Monday 11 November until Friday 15 November.

Breast screening appointments at all locations can be made online at breastscreen.org.au or by calling 13 20 50. For more information about cervical screening visit cancervic.org.au/cervical-aboriginal or call 13 11 20 to speak to Cancer Council Victoria.