Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Queensland has one of the highest breast cancer screening participation rates for indigenous women in Australia and while it is a good outcome, even more women are needed to take part in regular, two yearly screening to improve their health.

BreastScreen Queensland is continually reviewing its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategies, working closely with communities and local health workers to ensure local services are accessible, culturally sensitive and appealing to Indigenous clients.

BreastScreen Queensland staff participate in a wide variety of events, such as local NAIDOC celebrations, to keep health messages top of mind and help break down the barriers.

Role of the local health worker:

Local indigenous health workers play a very important role in promoting breast cancer awareness, education about the benefits of breast cancer screening, and women's health education in general. However, one of their key roles, in terms of breast cancer screening, is to provide reassurance and practical and emotional support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, helping women to make their breastscreen appointments, through to accompanying them on their breastscreen visit to the time they receive their results.

Key initiatives include:

  • Increased and more flexible mobile services for rural and remote areas
  • Offer group bookings
  • One-on-one support from female health workers
  • Offer Indigenous women only screening days at our services

Listen to the following testimonials from health workers who support their communities in many ways and have played a major role in increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in BreastScreen Queensland's screening program.

Sue Fatnowna, Mackay

Liela Muirson, Townsville

Maleta Nona, Torres Strait

Read the transcript of these health worker testimonials.

Having a breastscreen:

Not sure how to go about booking a breastscreen or what happens when you have one? Follow Auntie from the time she books her appointment to having her breastscreen and getting the results.

Read a transcript of Auntie's breastscreening story
Read Raima's story

The use of Indigenous artwork:

BreastScreen Queensland features indigenous artwork throughout its services, including on its mobile screening fleet and on resources and reports.

Artwork by artist Jordana Angus is about encouraging women to be screened rather than ending up having to scream for help. The woman represents those we have lost to breast cancer in the past as well as those we can save in the future through screening for the early detection of breast cancer.

The painting uses the hibiscus flower to portray the breast in an indirect fashion. This is important because it makes coming for screening acceptable, rather than a shameful or clinical experience. The diverse colour palette for this painting reflects the need for the mobile service to be welcoming to all women.

Benjamin Hodges is a young north Queensland artist who has experienced firsthand the impacts of breast cancer on the family. His artwork, Mutual Nurture, is of women representing three cultures: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander. The art depicts women with their arms linked to represent support and to show a woman is not alone in her suffering.

Last reviewed 13 June 2018 Last updated 15 June 2018

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BreastScreen Queensland reopens

Following a temporary suspension of routine breast screening across the State, some BreastScreen Queensland services are starting to screen again.

The recommencement of breast screening varies across the State. If you had an appointment cancelled, your local service will contact you to schedule a new appointment.

BreastScreen Queensland is an important early detection service for women, which reduces illness and death from breast cancer. To make an appointment please call us on 13 20 50 or book online.

Please note that online bookings are currently not available for the Rockhampton and Wide Bay Services, however, if you live in these areas you can still access your online account to view mail from BreastScreen Queensland, including reminders, forms, your results and update your personal details if needed.

We understand that some women may have concerns about attending screening at this time. If this is you, please talk to your doctor who knows you best, about whether breast screening at this time is right for you based on your individual circumstances.

The wellbeing of women and our staff is always our top priority and BreastScreen Queensland services are implementing a range of strategies to minimise and address risks from COVID-19 for women who attend for breast screening and our staff. As such, we ask that you reschedule your appointment if you are feeling unwell or you are required to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to COVID-19.

All women are encouraged to remain aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts. If you notice any changes please see your doctor immediately, do not wait until your next breast screen. Breast changes to look out for include:

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local BreastScreen Queensland service on 13 20 50.

We will continue to keep you updated here on our website about the availability of breast screening services during this time.

For more information about COVID-19 or visit www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus

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