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First national 'well women's health workshop' to address breast and cervical cancer screening

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Media release The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge Minister for Health and Family Services MW 108/97 10 October 1997


Women from around Australia are converging in Alice Springs this weekend for the first national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Well Women's Health Workshop.

Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said the aim o f the workshop was to explore culturally appropriate ways to maximise the effectiveness o f breast and cervical screening programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been identified as a target group by both the National Cervical Screening Program and BreastScreen Australia,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“This workshop has attracted more than one hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from communities across the country. They have come together to develop strategies to improve the recruitment and sustained participation of women from their communities in screening programs,” he said.

Most of the participants were from urban, rural and remote locations around Australia. More than half work in their communities as indigenous health workers and educators. The national workshop has been organised by a 10-member steering committee including seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“The workshop provides a unique opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to exchange ideas with each other and with other health professionals in a culturally- appropriate setting," Dr Wooldridge said.

The three-day workshop at the Congress Alukura Aboriginal Women's Birthing Centre, 8 km south of Alice Springs, is a women-only event. The workshop will include a cultural awareness program and field trip for non-indigenous participants.

“This workshop has the potential to generate ideas that will greatly improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's participation in screening programs and thereby significantly reduce mortality and morbidity from cervical and breast cancers,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“The Federal Government is proud to support and encourage this grass-roots initiative designed to identify additional culturally-appropriate strategies to improve preventitive health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.” "

Media contact: Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge's office (02) 6277 7220 Mary Shiers, Department of Health & Family Services (02) 6289 7005 or 018 621 913