Scarves send colourful screening message to the ladies of the west

Cultural women of western Sydney are donning colourful scarves as a reward for boosting their health literacy and understanding at a series of workshops.


The workshops were hosted by the multicultural and Aboriginal health teams at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).


The ‘Scarves for Screening’ project aims to improve breast, cervical and bowel screening rates among women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) in Auburn.


The workshops, which will continue to be held, were hosted in the Dari, Mandarin and Arabic languages by trained bilingual educators.


Colourful scarves, representing the vibrant diversity of western Sydney, were handed to participants who attended the workshops.


Bilingual community education program officer Anoop Johar said that for some women, it was the first time they ever heard of a mammogram test.


“Implementing cultural specific educational programs on cancer screening with incentives for participants is step forward to boost screening rates for vulnerable CALD women in Auburn,” Anoop said.


“One Afghani woman said that she was pleased she could understand in her language and that she would encourage her sister, mother and friends to get their health checks done too.”


The educational workshops encouraged women to book into a group mammogram session thanks to the support of BreastScreen NSW. So far 23 women have had a mammogram and seven others have signed up. Participants have also made commitments to conduct a bowel and cervical screening test.


WSLHD’s work to boost the community’s health literacy continued as the Aboriginal Health Hub hosted the ‘Poncho for a Pap Day’. Sixteen women attended an event for lunch and cervical screening with BreastScreen NSW. Representatives from the sexual health clinic attended to provide support.


Aboriginal health education officer Joanne Horton said many of the women who attended got their first cervical screening test.


“One lady hadn’t had one for 36 years,” Joanne said.


“Due to the high success of the day we will plan two of these events a year where we again hope to see many women do their cervical screening.


“Many women told us they felt very comfortable in the Aboriginal Health Hub.


“A lady said to me, “I was waiting for the test to start and then the sexual health representative said ok all done” – I didn’t realise how quick and simple it was.”


This week is Women’s Health Week, an annual event encouraging women across the world to make good health a priority.


It is also Multicultural Health Week, which raises awareness of health issues experienced by CALD communities. The theme this year is ‘Health literacy of new and emerging communities’.



This article was originally published by The Pulse on 3 September 2019.