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The Beautiful Shawl project tours Gippsland

Two Aboriginal women wearing screening shawls outside van.

BreastScreen Victoria’s mobile screening van has returned toGippsland to give free breast screens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 50-74, 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 receive a free, locally designed cultural screening shawl to wear during their breast screen and then take home with them. The shawls feature artwork by local Aboriginal artists to help women feel more comfortable, respected and culturally safe as they screen.

The first stop in this series of visits to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across the region was Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation in Morwell from Monday 28 February to Tuesday 1 March.

Artwork of the Gippsland shawl.

Marilyn Fenton, a Gunai Kurnai artist, designed the artwork for the Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation Morwell shawl, titled “We are one”.

The van will now head to Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation in Sale from 2 to 4 March. After that, it will stop by Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative (GEGAC) in Bairnsdale from 7 to 11 March, before going to Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association (LEAHA) from 15 to 18 March.

Angee Ross, Executive Director Population Health at VACCHO, said, “This culturally safe initiative has flourished and continues to successfully improve the participation rates and screening experience for Aboriginal women across the Eastern Victoria region.

“Community-led engagement is an important part of what makes this program so successful and has been instrumental in ensuring Aboriginal women have continued to screen during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since October 2018, the project has visited 16 communities and screened over 492 Aboriginal women.