Promoting cancer screening through art

Last year we launched 'Sistas, get checked!', a unique women’s health event to support Aboriginal women to take part in cancer screening programs.

Aboriginal health means more than just the physical wellbeing of an individual but also the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing. For Aboriginal people, art and health are intertwining concepts.

Cancer Council Victoria, thanks to the support of The Ian Potter Foundation, is using art to promote cervical cancer screening among the Aboriginal community.

The people involved

Increasing cervical screening participation is crucial for achieving health equity as Aboriginal women are more than twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than non-Aboriginal women.

Cancer Council Victoria commissioned Aboriginal artist Madison Connors to create art which destigmatises the cervical screening process. Madison’s artwork formed a travelling art show that will visit eight Aboriginal community health centres in Victoria over 2019-2020 to raise awareness and provide opportunities for cancer screening.

One of the pieces of Aboriginal art

Two of the art shows were held in late 2019 at the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation in Heywood and Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative in Shepparton, bringing together almost 100 people of all ages from the community to increase knowledge and understanding of cancer screening.

We partnered with BreastScreen Victoria for these events to offer a full screening experience – their hot pink screening van was present at the same time as the art, so women aged 50-74 could book to have both screening tests. The first 50 Aboriginal women to screen at the van received beautiful shawls designed by Aboriginal artists.

“It’s great to have the art here at the same time as the pink bus. If it wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have screened.”

– Exhibition attendee

The exhibitions are true community events, featuring activities for the whole family with live entertainment, raffle prizes and cultural crafts. This initiative aims to ensure a future of equitable health outcomes for all Australians and contributes to our goal of eliminating cervical cancer.

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