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Throughout this eBulletin we use the term Aboriginal Western Australians to include also people of Torres Strait Islander descent.
Welcome to the first edition of 'Let's Talk' for 2016!
Happy New Year to you all from Cancer Council WA!  We look forward to continuing our work with you to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in Aboriginal communities across WA.

'Let's Talk' is published quarterly to keep Aboriginal health professionals and those working with Aboriginal communities (proudly leading the way to a cancer-free future) up-to-date with  Aboriginal cancer education and research programs in WA, Aboriginal cancer events, cancer issues and trends, and cancer support services available.
Closing the Gap message from the Chief Executive Officer

Closing the Gap on Aboriginal cancer rates in Western Australia

This Close the Gap day (17 March) Cancer Council WA is asking you to assist us to communicate cancer prevention messages, in our efforts to close the gap on cancer mortality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal West Australians.

In February 2016, the eighth Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s report was released highlighting performance of the Closing the Gap targets to address Indigenous disadvantage, which were set  by the COAG Reform Council in 2008.   While many of the leading causes of mortality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people improved between 1998 and 2012, cancer death rates increased by 16 per cent, increasing the cancer mortality gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.    You can read more

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in Aboriginal Australians. Aboriginal Australians are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer when it is at an advanced stage of development and have a higher incidence of poorer prognosis cancers that are largely preventable, for example lung cancer and liver cancer.

Working with Aboriginal communities to deliver culturally appropriate cancer prevention messages is vital to reducing Aboriginal cancer mortality rates. Cancer Council WA have developed specialised resources, but we need the help of Aboriginal health professionals and the wider Aboriginal community to help deliver these messages.

Aboriginal health workers/professionals can educate and inform their communities using our suite of Aboriginal resources
and/or attend our Cancer Education Course in Perth on 9 – 13 May. We particularly encourage people in rural and remote communities to tap into these resources as cancer survival for people in these areas is lower than their city counterparts. A recent national study looking at Aboriginal cancer survival (Condon et al. 2014) found that cancer death rates were 65% higher for Aboriginal people in very remote areas than in major cities.

We are also developing culturally appropriate Aboriginal cancer prevention videos that will help with language and/or literacy barriers - we hope Aboriginal health workers/professionals will find them useful.  We will start consultation for these resources in March/April - if you would like to be part of this consultation process please contact Louise De Busch, Aboriginal Projects Officer on 9388 4382.

We look forward to working with you to reduce cancer mortality amongst Aboriginal communities.

Susan Rooney
Chief Executive Officer
Cancer Council WA
Aboriginal Health Professional Profile: Sally Dickinson

Photo: Sally Dickinson at the Wagin Woolorama Agricultural Show spending time with some four legged friends.
We'd like to introduce Sally Dickinson, a Mobile Family Counsellor at Southern Agcare in the Upper Great Southern region in WA.

As a Mobile Family Counsellor for Southern Agcare, she is supported by a great clinical team consisting of three other family counsellors, a hard-working co-ordinator, a dedicated management team and essential volunteer committee. They are a unique organisation of caring people working to improve the quality of client’s lives.

Sally's work involves confidential one on one, phone and group counselling with clients in their homes or at community centres such as Allied Health and Community Resource Centres (CRC’s) and public hospitals. The majority of her clients self-refer or are referred by community organisations such as mental health, Home and Community Care (HACC); child health nurses, disability services and local doctors.  Occasionally, mandated clients are referred to her for counselling as part of their community order. Group counselling with Aboriginal families in Kojonup has been very successful; working collaboratively with Relationship Australia, Palmerston and Aboriginal Health.

Relationship issues, depression, self-harming, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, grief and loss, suicide and terminal illness (such as cancer), present as part of her role as a family counsellor.

Sally's attendance at the Aboriginal Health Professionals Cancer Education course gave her;
  • up to date information and culturally appropriate resources about cancer.
  • confidence to counsel someone with a diagnosis of cancer.
  • contact details of an Aboriginal Liaison Officer currently working at two major hospitals that I can refer her clients to when they are referred to Perth for their treatment.
Highlights of her time in Perth;
  • The visit to Royal Perth hospital to observe endoscopies and colonoscopies being performed on patients by informative and friendly professionals.
  • The group BBQ picnic in Kings Park where they prepared healthy food was a welcome change for this home sick woman from the bush.
"I would like to thank Louise and everyone at the Cancer Council for a great week in Perth" said Sally.
You can contact Sally on 0427 192 155 or

The next Aboriginal health professional profile is with Pearl Draper from Southern Agcare Inc. in Broomehill-Tambellup area.

 If you would like to submit a profile for this section of the eBulletin, please refer to our
Contribution Guidelines.
New Bowel Cancer Screening Education Coordinator 

Photo: Shannon Wagner

Welcome to our new Bowel Cancer Screening Education Coordinator!

We would like to introduce Shannon Wagner, our new Bowel Cancer Screening Coordinator at Cancer Council WA.  Shannon is working on improving the number of people who use the free bowel cancer screening kits that many West Australians receive in the mail.  This includes getting GPs and other health professionals talking to their patients about the kits and improving community awareness about the program through marketing and community engagement. 

Shannon has been working in community health and road safety for the past few years and will bring a wealth of knowledge to her role.

For further information about her role or bowel cancer screening please don’t hesitate to contact Shannon Wagner on 08 9212 4388 or

Update on our Reconciliation Action Plans

Welcome to our first update on our reconciliation journey for 2016. We are eager to continue our work with you, the wider community and Cancer Council staff in an effort to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in Aboriginal communities across WA!

Why are we doing this?

In July 2015, Cancer Council WA made a commitment to implement our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to increase respect, relationships and opportunities for Aboriginal people. As a result, our internal Aboriginal Reference Group, consisting of both voluntary Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff, was re-established to coordinate the implementation of the plan in consultation with Reconciliation Australia.

Photo: CCWA's Aboriginal Reference Group team, from left to right, Cassandra Clayforth, John Burton, Louise De Busch (Chair), Hamish Beer, Niki Comparti, Terry Slevin, Yvette Hufschmidt, Steve Pratt, Brooke Wilkinson, Alicia King, Kym Caple, Emily Box

What are we doing?

In addition to the RAP, the group's overall goal is to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in Western Australia by promoting, supporting and advocating for effective, culturally appropriate services and programs for Aboriginal people. These include:

  • Prevention and early detection of cancer
  • Treatment and care
  • Support and palliation for people with cancer
  • Ensuring families and carers of Aboriginal people with cancer are involved, informed, supported and enabled through the cancer experience.
They also have a focus on:
  • Supporting and promoting relevant and useful research into all aspects of cancer control in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Assisting in facilitation of cultural awareness learning's across the organisation.
  • Assisting health professionals develop strategies to be culturally sensitive.
Watch this space for updates!

Should you have any questions regarding our Reconciliation Action Plan please don't hesitate to contact Louise De Busch
, Aboriginal Projects Officer on 9388 4382 or
New AHPA Scholarship for Aboriginal cancer educational videos
Alicia King (our PEPA Aboriginal Project Officer) has been awarded the Aboriginal Health Promotion Association (AHPA) Scholarship to complete an Aboriginal education video project at Cancer Council WA. Alicia already spends three days with the PASCE team at CCWA delivering PEPA (Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach) workshops to Aboriginal Health Professionals, so her other two days will be committed to this particular project.

This project involves producing a unique suite of culturally-appropriate cancer prevention educational videos designed for the Aboriginal community.  The aim is to improve cancer and cancer prevention knowledge amongst Aboriginal people, as well as help and empower Aboriginal health workers/professionals to educate Aboriginal clients. 

These cancer prevention education videos will complement CCWA’s existing suite of written
Aboriginal cancer resources, and will overcome some of the language and literacy barriers that exist for Aboriginal people throughout Western Australia, by providing translations in a few prominent Aboriginal languages.

If you would like more information about the project please don’t hesitate to contact Alicia King, Aboriginal Prevention Project Officer on 9388 4326 or email at
Cancer Council WA would like to acknowledge the support of Healthway, who fund this AHPA Scholarship.
Sharing Aboriginal cancer journey stories

Getting our cancer survival stories told could help others!

Aboriginal people currently live 10–17 years less than other Australians and cancer remains the second leading cause of death. The most common causes of cancer-related death in Aboriginal men are lung and liver cancers; for women it’s lung and breast.

Surviving cancer – particularly as a member of the Aboriginal community - is worth celebrating and we need your help to share these stories.

Part of succeeding in our mission to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer across Aboriginal communities’ lies in raising awareness, and the benefits of sharing unique story’s are ongoing.

If you know an Aboriginal cancer survivor who would like to support others by sharing their story, please contact  our Aboriginal Projects Officer, Louise De Busch on 9388 4382.
This is my story
Do you know someone living with a mental illness who has quit smoking?

People living with a mental illness are often faced with unique challenges and barriers to quitting smoking. However, the majority of smokers do want to quit and can if given the right support. Hearing a story from someone who has experienced similar circumstances and challenges can give people the inspiration and encouragement to try to quit or cut down.

Cancer Council WA is currently inviting people living with a mental illness to share their story about quitting smoking to inspire others to do the same. If you or someone you know has a lived experience to share, get in touch! Send us an email at or phone Emily on (08) 9388 4309.

New Healthy Living after Cancer

Are you aware of Aboriginal cancer patients who have finished cancer treatment?

We know that people may need support to make healthy lifestyle changes after finishing cancer treatment. The Healthy Living after Cancer program supports adults who have finished cancer treatment to be more active and eat better.

How does the Healthy Living after Cancer program work?

Healthy Living after Cancer is a free support program offered by Cancer Council WA. In this program, Cancer Council 13 11 20 Nurses support people to set and reach their goals around making healthy lifestyle changes.

The program is delivered by telephone, so that people living anywhere in WA can take part. People taking part in Healthy Living after Cancer receive up to 12 coaching phone calls over 6 months. Cancer Council Nurses will offer support, tips and motivation to help people reach their activity and healthy eating goals.  

Why is it important to be active and eat better?

Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is important. Exercising more and eating better may reduce the risk of cancer returning, and may also reduce the risk of other health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Being active, eating better and feeling better can help people feel able to do more of the things they want to do. 

How can people take part?

For more information or to take part, please call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

Information is also available on Cancer Council WA’s
website.  People can register their interest here and Cancer Council staff will contact them directly to tell them more about the program. 

Healthy Living after Cancer is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. It is offered by Cancer Councils in WA, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and is supported by the University of Queensland.
'Sponge' campaign

On Sunday 14 February 2016 Make Smoking History aired the campaign ‘Sponge’ state-wide. The campaign uses simple and powerful visuals to show people who smoke the negative effect that smoking is having on their health, and prompt efforts to quit. The campaign was created by Cancer Institute NSW, and is a remake of the original 1979 television advertisement which was so successful in its day that tobacco lobbyists attempted to have it banned. The campaign will run in metropolitan and regional areas across Western Australia until Saturday 26 March 2016. Visit to view the advertisements or if you work in the community services sector, visit our Make Smoking History for Community Services website for tailored information and advice for supporting clients to quit. You may also like to get involved in the campaign conversation online via Twitter (@msh_wa) and Facebook (

Aboriginal cancer publications

Let's talk about living with cancer

The 'Let's talk about living with cancer' brochure and poster have been developed to help Aboriginal people understand more about cancer. They explain:

  • what cancer is
  • how is cancer treated
  • myths about cancer
  • where to look for support
  • practical tips for people with cancer
  • survivor stories

The artwork is by Nyoongar artist, Valerie Ah Chee, and is called 'The Path'. The picture shows that men, women, children and families are all affected by cancer. The path they are on is a path walked by many and everyone's journey is different. The sun signifies hope and positivity as they battle cancer.

download pdf of 2011-02-08-lets-talk-about-living-with-cancer-a3-posterBrochure

download pdf of 2011-02-08-lets-talk-about-living-with-cancer-posterPoster

We're here for you

The Cancer Council nurses can provide information and support to cancer patients, families and friends. They are available weekdays from 8am - 6pm on 13 11 20.

This bookmark is a useful reference for Cancer Council 13 11 20 services and is designed for Aboriginal people, organisations and community groups.


To order these resources today, go to our website Aboriginal resources.
Events and courses

Free smoking cessation training coming to South Hedland in March 2016!

Cancer Council SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Prevention Team are pleased to have received funding to continue delivering the Quitskills program in 2015/16. Since 2012, almost 700 graduates across Australia have recognised the vital importance of this training to support their work.

This training opportunity is available to those who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Training opportunities available:

  • Quitskills 3-day competency based training
  • Quitskills 1-day refresher course
  • Motivational interviewing 2-day training

If you are interested in participating in this training in South Hedland in March 2016, please contact Alissa Ansell at for a registration form.

Connecting, Communicating and Collaborating across the Globe
The Inaugural World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC 2016)
12-14 April 2016
Brisbane, Queensland Australia

The inaugural World Indigenous Cancer Conference 2016 (WICC 2016), hosted by Menzies School of Health Research, and held in partnership with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The theme for WICC 2016 is 'Connecting, Communicating and Collaborating across the Globe'. Aboriginal health professionals including researchers, public health practitioners, clinicians, nurses, , allied health and other related professionals, Indigenous community groups, advocacy groups and leaders from around the globe are encouraged to attend.

WICC 2016 is supported by a Strategic Research Partnership Grant funded by Cancer Council New South Wales (STREP CaCIndA) and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Discovering Indigenous Strategies to Improve Cancer Outcomes via Engagement, Research Translation, and Training (DISCOVER-TT).

Mark your diary now, and
register your interest to receive updates on conference planning and key dates.
Mark your diaries for upcoming National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Significant Calendar of Cultural Events!

National Closing the Gap Day
17 March 2016

National Sorry Day
26 May 2016

National Reconciliation Week
27 May - 3 June 2016

National Mabo Day
3 June 2016
Submit an article
We invite past course participants of the Cancer Council WA Aboriginal Cancer Education Course and health services/organisation/departments working with Aboriginal Western Australians to submit contributions for publication in this bulletin.  Articles and events that pertain to cancer control and support are most welcome.

If anyone would like to submit an article for the next bulletin, please refer to our
Contribution Guidelines and email by Friday 22 April 2016.
Email us
Our next edition is due in June!

Cancer Council Western Australia acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Western Australia and pay our respect to them, their culture and their Elders past and present.

Copyright © 2016 Cancer Council Western Australia, All rights reserved.

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