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The ‘Breast’ success for Aboriginal women in Eastern Sydney

A journey to improve access to primary health care commencing with the La Perouse Aboriginal community with the ultimate aim to have the BreastScreen NSW mobile unit in La Perouse.

Authors: L Merrison (Lead)

Background

In 2008 our journey to improve access to primary health care commenced with the La Perouse Aboriginal community. During early priority health needs consultations it was established that many community members experienced cancer, some losing battles at unacceptably early ages. Many advanced stage cancers without detection!

Methods

We needed to help; •Address cancer awareness in a culturally sensitive manner •Dispel myths on symptoms, screenings, diagnosis and treatment •Make screening and treatment services more accessible •Promote healthy lifestyles/ reduce known risk factors for cancer •Assist with 'where and when to' access primary health care for cancer related services We worked in partnership tackling breast cancer first. The ultimate aim was to have the BreastScreen NSW mobile unit in La Perouse. To establish relationship building, BreastScreen NSW was invited to participate at annual events.

Results

In 2011, we were successfully offered a placement of the BreastScreen mobile screening unit. Screening was available for Aboriginal and non Aboriginal women which was appropriately timed to coincide with Reconciliation Week. The visit productively saw as many as 30% of the Aboriginal women screened as patients who may never have attended screening had it not been available locally.

Conclusion

This year's return of the unit was welcomed both by community and ESML. As a result of the initial partnership we have further expanded services to include; •Health promotion/ awareness events with the Aboriginal men's group, women's health events - including women's health nurses, GPs and Aboriginal Health Education Officers •An ESML community health newsletter including cancer related articles with referral and support service information •Locally available screening service •A community run fruit and vegetable provision program to support health eating •Commencement of a community walking group to promote physical activity

Please note: Copyright for the abstract is owned by the author(s) listed. The data, conclusions, views or opinions presented in this abstract are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Cancer Institute NSW. The Cancer Institute NSW makes no claim to the validity or accuracy of the information provided.