Improving the patient experience for Aboriginal women

St Vincent’s is collaborating with BreastScreen Victoria and Aboriginal health organisations to increase breast cancer screening rates among Indigenous Victorians.

BreastScreen is trialling two screening sessions for Aboriginal women, who will receive a shawl to wear during the session. Featuring colourful artwork by Aboriginal artist Aunty Lynette Briggs, the silk shawl is designed to make Aboriginal women more comfortable during a breast screen.

The trial project is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and is run by BreastScreen Victoria, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS).

Breast cancer screening while wearing the shawl
Breast cancer screening while wearing the shawl

‘St Vincent’s has been good enough to allow us to conduct the trial onsite and we have trained the clinic staff to deliver the two trial screening days,’ Annie Cooper from BreastScreen Victoria says.

Anne Barton, Operations Manager at St Vincent’s BreastScreen, says the first trial session held in mid-September was very successful.

‘When I walked through our reception, there was lots of chatting and laughing, Anne says. ‘The women appear relaxed and comfortable.’

‘The radiographer found the shawls a great resource in assisting women to feel comfortable and safe.’

‘I appreciate the willingness of the staff to learn and treat women with respect,’ said one of the participants.

Aunty Lynette's artwork appearing on the shawl
Aunty Lynette’s artwork appearing on the shawl

Aunty Lynette Briggs says the piece was her first attempt at silk painting and was inspired by the many stories of women and their personal journeys shared in their yarning circles.

‘Our journeys are many but our travelling path leads us back to Mother Earth, connecting us to Her Spiritual Being,” says Aunty Lynette.

The second and final trial session will be held in late October.

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