The BreastScreen Victoria mobile screening van recently stopped by Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative near Shepparton —screening 38 Aboriginal women from Thursday, 4 November to Friday, 5 November.
After visiting in 2019, the van was back to give free breast screens as part of the Beautiful Shawl Project. The project is an award-winning initiative, run jointly by BreastScreen Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).
Women who screened received a free, locally-designed cultural screening shawl to wear during their screen and take home with them. The shawls aim to make sure women feel more comfortable, respected and culturally safe. Rumbalara's shawl features a beautiful design by local Bangerang Gunditjmara artist Rebecca Atkinson.
Rebecca explains the meaning of her work, "The story behind my artwork is calmness, as when you are having your breast screen you can become nervous, overthinking and a lot of other emotions in that time which then might bring on stress or anxiety. Flowers always bring a smile to anyone's face as they often bring good memories which will calm you."
Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative's Executive Manager of Health and Wellbeing and proud Wamba Wamba-Jarra woman, Shannon Drake, reflected on the visit's success.
"It's been so empowering that we've got strong Aboriginal women coming to our services and driving the way for breast care," she said.
The visit to Rumbalara came after the van toured a group of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across South Eastern Victoria. Free breast screens and locally designed shawls specific to each area were offered at Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service (DWECH)in Portland, Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation in Heywood, Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative in Warrnambool, Kirrae Health Service in Purnim, and Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong.
Since October 2018, the project has visited 16 communities and screened over 492 Aboriginal women.