Breastscreen Queensland launches Sistas Shawl trial to boost screening rates
BreastScreen Northside Brisbane Medical Director Dr Jane Brazier, community member Aunty Barb Hubbert, Metro North Board Member Bonny Barry and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team Project Officer Kim Minniecon (wearing the Sistas Shawl).
BreastScreen Queensland Brisbane Northside Service has today launched a new ‘Sistas Shawl’ project to boost screening rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, where this cohort of women experience higher mortality rates, tend to get breast cancer younger, and have lower participation in breast screening programs.
BreastScreen Queensland Medical Director Dr Jane Brazier said it was never more important than now to improve cultural appropriateness to increase screening numbers.
“Our Northside Service experienced an increase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women screening in the 2021-2022 financial year with 522 women coming in for a breast screen compared with 507 the previous year,” Dr Brazier said.
“While this is the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women screened at the service, we cannot become complacent, and this trial signifies our commitment to actively improving our care pathways for women and to remove barriers to screening.”
The modesty shawl concept was introduced to BreastScreen Queensland by the BreastScreen Victoria Beautiful Shawl Project.
The Sistas Shawl on offer to Metro North Health patients features ‘A Women’s Dreaming’ artwork by Aboriginal artist Sharon McAvoy.
Metro North Health Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and proud Yidinji and Butchulla woman,
Sherry Holzapfel said the trial would increase comfort levels in women who may otherwise feel uncomfortable undressing in front of a stranger.
“We want to reduce shame with having a breast screen for our women as it is a lifesaving check that should be completed every two years,” Mrs Holzapfel said.
“The Sistas Shawl will provide comfort and modesty for our women.”
It is recommended that women aged 50 – 74 have a breast screen every two years as a breast screen remains the best way to detect breast cancer early. BreastScreen Queensland also provides free breast screening to women who are aged 40 and over.
BreastScreen Queensland Brisbane Northside Service has screening locations at Chermside, Brisbane City, Keperra, North Lakes, Indooroopilly and Redcliffe. Women can make an appointment by phoning 13 20 50 or can book online at www.breastscreen.qld.gov.au.