Booklet to help close the gap

INDIGENOUS people have a new resource to help close the cancer survival gap.

The NSW Cancer Council in association with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW has released a booklet, Aboriginal Cancer Journeys: Our stories of kinship, hope and survival, that will provide information on treatment and support services for Aboriginal people affected by cancer.

Indigenous Australians are far more likely to die from some cancers than non-indigenous Australians.

“Our research shows that barriers to healthcare have resulted in Aboriginal people having a survival rate three times lower for some cancers than other NSW residents,” Coffs Harbour Cancer Council’s regional manager Patty Delaney said.

Providing access to relevant information is seen as the first step to improving the survival rate.

“Lots of work is being done to understand ways of removing these barriers but we need to start by ensuring the community can access relevant information about cancer and the available support services,” Ms Delaney said.

Consultation with the Aboriginal community was an important part of the development of the publication.

“This booklet was developed with Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people and we hope that providing the community with better information will be one step closer to closing the survival gap,” Ms Delaney said.

The publication also contains the personal cancer experiences of nine Aboriginal people. These stories have been transformed into artwork by Aboriginal artist Adam Hill.

It is hoped this personal approach will inspire Aboriginal people to talk about cancer.

Consultation with the Aboriginal community was an essential part of putting the booklet together.

Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW chief operating officer Rodger Williams’ father was diagnosed with the illness.

“Because we knew Dad was going to pass away, we were able to talk to him about his funeral wishes and other practical things,” he said.

This experience opened Mr Williams’ eyes to the importance of talking about cancer.

“One thing I learnt was how important it is to talk and listen,” he said. “Not only to your healthcare team but also to your family and friends.

“I hope the stories in this book encourage everybody to tell their story and to hear other people’s, too.”

The booklet is free and is available to order from the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 or online at www.cancercouncil.com.au.



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