BreastScreen beauties: BADAC’s Sandy Anderson, far right, at the launch of the indigenous gowns. Photo: CAROL SAFFER

Artistically wrapped for breast screening

July 10, 2019 BY

A COLLECTION of gowns printed with Aboriginal designs was launched on Tuesday at Ballarat Health Services and they aim to help Indigenous women feel more comfortable during a breast screen.

While the region has some of the highest breast screening rates in the state for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the effort is in part to maintain and increase that level.

The wraps, created by indigenous artists, are a joint initiative between Grampians BreastScreen at Ballarat Health Services and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-Operative.

BADAC women’s health nurse Sandy Anderson said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are significantly under screened for many reasons.

“They include negative experiences when accessing mainstream services, shame in participating in a personal woman’s screening and prioritising caring responsibilities over their own health,” Ms Anderson said.

The design and implementation of the gowns was a result of a long-term community exercise.

Vicki Pridmore, CEO of BreastScreen Victoria said the organisation is keen to see what impact the gowns have.

“We will monitor the participation levels of the Ballarat area’s indigenous women,” she said.

With the lessons learned from the Ballarat experience, Ms Pridmore said there was scope to expand of the program other cultural groups.

“We have lots of data at national level that identifies the top 10 linguistic and cultural diversities in the community who attend BreastScreen,” she said. “This may be useful to assess the possibility of rolling out this type of initiative to other culturally diverse women.”

The new gowns are a visible symbol of the partnership between BADAC and Grampians BreastScreen Ballarat, and may help indigenous women feel culturally safe and welcomed.

Each gown is labelled with the details of the artist.

Kellie Phillips, in a Bambilla gown by artist Nambookah said it was absolutely gorgeous.

“It would make me feel a little more comfortable wearing this for my next appointment,” she said.