New resource improving outcomes for Aboriginal people with cancer

A new booklet is guiding Aboriginal people through their cancer journey, to increase access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment services

As the name suggests, The Culturally Safe Booklet is designed to help Aboriginal people feel more comfortable accessing Hunter New England Health’s services following a cancer diagnosis.

Director of Cancer Services for Hunter New England Health, Doctor Tony Proietto said the resource is part of HNE Health Cancer Network’s commitment to improving access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment services for Aboriginal people. This is in an effort to Close the Gap in health and wellbeing between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

“Currently there is a 12 year gap between the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people,” Dr Proietto said.

“There is also an identified variation in outcomes for Aboriginal people diagnosed with cancer, with 
cancer mortality rates 1.5 times higher and survival percentages 1.3 times lower than non-Aboriginal Australians.*

“Aboriginal people diagnosed with cancer between 1999 and 2007 had a 40 per cent chance of surviving five years compared to non-Aboriginal people who had a 52 per cent chance of survival,” * he said.

Director of Aboriginal Health for HNE Health, Tony Martin said the higher number of deaths from cancer could be due to a number of factors.

“Aboriginal people are more likely to be diagnosed with cancers that have a poor prognosis, present with comorbidities and be diagnosed at a later stage as a result of delayed access to health care and lower screening rates,” ** Mr Martin said.

“We also know that there’s a common misconception among Aboriginal people that cancer is a death sentence, which can make them fearful of following up symptoms.

“This is why this Culturally Safe Booklet is so important, because it not only helps Aboriginal people feel safe seeking treatment, but reiterates the importance of cancer prevention and early detection through screening,” he said.

The booklet will be available in all Hunter New England Health’s cancer centres, including Calvary Mater Newcastle, Manning Hospital and the North West Cancer Centre, as well as outreach services and from Aboriginal Medical Services.

Elders and community members contributed to the development of the booklets, which are localised to the individual areas. The booklets include local art work, cancer journey stories and language.

The booklets will be launched across three locations:

  1. Manning Hospital - 1 June 2015 at 11am.
  2. Calvary Mater Newcastle - 15 June 2015 at 10:30am.
  3. The North West Cancer Centre at Tamworth- 29 June 2015 at 1pm.

*The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Cancer Australia


Contact Phone:  4985 5522