‘Get screened early’: New Cancer Council campaign targets Indigenous Australians, SBS News

The Cancer Council is urging everyone to get screened early as it launches its latest campaign aimed at the Indigenous community.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles has teamed up with Cancer Council Victoria as part of a new campaign to raise awareness about cancer screenings within Indigenous communities.

In the minute-long video, Uncle Jack encourages Indigenous men and women to have regular tests for breast, cervical and bowel cancer.

Indigenous Australians are 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer than their non-indigenous counterparts.

And screening outcomes are poorer too, at almost 20 per cent lower than the non-indigenous population when it comes to bowel and breast cancer.

Uncle Jack said he used to forget his health checks, but now that he is older, he is determined to be more proactive.

“I have this healthy paranoia about myself now,” he said.

Uncle Jack Charles speaks to SBS
Aboriginal Elder Uncle Jack Charles is part of a new Cancer Council Victoria campaign (SBS)

Similar Cancer Council campaigns have been successful in migrant communities.

Although the campaign is light-hearted at times, the serious message is clear.

“Early detection is so important – it could save your life,” Uncle Jack Charles said in the campaign. “And please, go and see an Aboriginal health worker or a doctor today.”

Screenshot of the Cancer Council Victoria campaign video
Cancer Council Victoria is encouraging Indigenous Australians to screen for breast, cervical and bowel cancers (SBS / Cancer Council Victoria)

Indigenous Australian Andrea Casey is an Aboriginal liaison officer.

She said one issue is Indigenous Australians are often quite private about their health problems.

“A lot of times in the community, people don’t necessarily talk to each other about these subjects,” Ms Casey said. “So, if no one talks to you about it, perhaps you don’t know.”

“Maybe you go to your doctor about other problems, so screening doesn’t come up in the conversation as much as it could,” she said.

Indigenous woman Andrea Casey speaks to SBS
Andrea Casey has welcomed the new Cancer Council Victoria campaign (SBS)

Ms Casey is also a breast cancer survivor.

She noted the changes in her body, and considering her family history with the condition, she went straight to a doctor and was diagnosed early.

She said that is the kind of awareness she hopes to bring to other communities.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Charissa Feng said the simple message is early detection is critical.

“A lot of these cancers can be prevented, so it’s really important that they get the message to screen early,” she said. “To get screened and to get effective treatment.”


(First published on SBS News on May 24 2018)


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