St Vincent’s BreastScreen sticks up for inclusion

Gemma Twomey, Administration Manager, BreastScreen St Vincent’s.

The team at St Vincent's BreastScreen is working hard to create a safe and welcoming environment with the help of the LGBTIQ+ project team at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne (SVHM).

As part of both BreastScreen Victoria and SVHM's ongoing commitment to inclusion for LGBTIQ+ staff and clients, St Vincent's BreastScreen has introduced welcome stickers to their All-Gender Toilet. The stickers read: "trans, gender diverse and non-binary people are welcome in here – please use the toilet of your choice". The stickers are all about ensuring people feel safe and comfortable to use the amenity of their choice.

St Vincent's BreastScreen has had signage for their All-Gender bathroom for over a year now, but the stickers are a new addition as of Friday, 6 August.

All-Gender amenities provide a space for people who may feel uncomfortable or unsafe using binary gendered female or male toilets. The stickers are an important visual sign of support that demonstrate awareness of the barriers that members of the LGBTIQ+ community experience.

Operations Manager at St Vincent's BreastScreen, Anne Barton, is on a mission to foster a respectful environment among BreastScreen Victoria staff and clients where everyone feels welcome.

"Following a number of LGBTIQ+ team trainings and focus groups for our Rainbow Rose clinic, we're always looking and listening to others about how we can make St Vincent's RAS more inclusive.

"It's a scary time for clients when they are called back to an assessment clinic, and we want to help people feel as comfortable as possible. Welcome stickers and inclusive bathroom amenities can go a long way in helping people feel more comfortable in an environment and situation that is new to them.

"St Vincent's BreastScreen continues to strive to be inclusive of both staff and clients, and we are always undergoing continuous improvement surrounding our inclusivity."

St Vincent BreastScreen was one of several key sites involved in SVHM's project to support inclusive amenity access.

Mx Christina Hotka, SVHM's LGBTIQ+ Safety and Responsiveness Project Officer, has played an essential role in getting this project off the ground and worked with Starlady, a long-time advocate for the LGBTIQ+ community, to secure the stickers.

"As part of our ongoing commitment to inclusion for LGBTIQ+ staff and peoples in the care of our service; we have made changes to our amenity access to ensure trans, gender diverse and/or peoples with intersex variation/s are able to use the amenity of their choice."

Christina met with the team at St Vincent's BreastScreen for an on-site visit and discussed the initiative before putting up the stickers and distributing pronoun badges that staff are welcome to wear.

"The stickers really reinforce how important visual signifiers are for inclusivity. When we get into the realm of toilets and change rooms, it's crucial for folx* to feel welcome.

"They also provide a great conversation starter for anyone who uses the bathroom around the fact that the binary of female and male isn't a given.

"It's important for everyone to use a toilet that affirms who they are. The more we can create more gender-neutral space, the more we can send a message to folx that they are valid."

At BreastScreen Victoria, we are committed to ensuring our services are inclusive, welcoming and safe for LGBTIQ+ people.

Find out more about breast screening for LGBTI+ people.

* used especially to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups commonly marginalized