May 27 to June 3 is National Reconciliation Week (NRW), a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
Indigenous Australians’ cancer outcomes, particularly cancer survival, are generally poorer than non-Indigenous Australians’
In 2010 – 2014 in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the five-year observed survival rate for all cancers combined was 48 per cent for Indigenous Australians and 59 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians.*
While some reasons for disparity remain unknown, we do know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancers, and overall have lower participation rates in cancer screening and treatment uptake.
At Cancer Council Queensland we want to reduce these inequities.
Over the last year, our progress towards reconciliation and closing the gap has included continued investment into research to discover the impact of cancer on Indigenous Australians, further cultural training for employees and providing opportunities for employees to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture during significant dates, such as NAIDOC Week. There has also been continued work towards a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
A collaborative project between Cancer Council Queensland and Menzies School of Health Research, made possible through generous support from the Jack and Madeleine Little Foundation, revealed high levels of geographical variation in five-year participation rates of cervical screening, prevalence of high-grade cytologic abnormalities, and timely follow-up of abnormal Pap smears across Queensland, and found that this variation was particularly marked among Indigenous women.
We will continue to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities to improve cancer outcomes, such as these.
After launching our Caring for Our Community program last year, with workshops held across the state, we have continued the program in 2019 with sessions already held on Thursday Island and in Mackay. In June, there will be courses in both Cunnamulla and Brisbane. Caring for Our Community is a Cancer Australia Supporting people with cancer Grant initiative, funded by the Australian Government. These two-day courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals provide information on cancer and cancer treatment, the prevention, screening and early detection of cancer, and end of life care. To find out more information, visit here.
*Source: AIHW ACD 2015.