Translations help reduce barriers to breast screening

Arabic Bilingual Client Contact Officer Nancy and client Sofia.

Arabic Bilingual Client Contact Officer Nancy and client Sofia.

At BreastScreen Victoria, we are dedicated to making our services accessible to all eligible Victorians no matter what language they speak —and we couldn't do this without our outstanding Bilingual Client Contact Officers.

On International Translation Day today, we recognise our bilingual staff's important role in breaking down language barriers. They help us bring overdue clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds back into our screening program.

Our recent work with a number of these clients involved taking them through the whole process, from booking to screening, in-language. 

We sent clients an SMS in-language, a BreastScreen Victoria first, encouraging them to return to have a breast screen. BreastScreen Victoria sent SMS messages to clients in 13 languages, including Arabic, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. 

Our Bilingual Client Contact Officers also conducted follow-up calls in these five languages for clients who still had not booked. Sofia, an Arabic-speaking client who spoke to our Arabic Bilingual Client Contact Officer Nancy, believes this initiative is a fantastic service for those who can't understand English well.

Translated from Arabic, Sofia said, "When Nancy spoke with me in Arabic, she encouraged me to book my appointment, and I felt completely comfortable. 

"Some medical information is difficult to understand in English, and having someone with knowledge of the service with the ability to translate the information into Arabic ensured I understood everything," she said. 

Some Arabic and Mandarin-speaking clients were also offered an appointment at special breast screening sessions with an interpreter. These group bookings encouraged women to ask questions in their language to understand every step of the screening process. Attendees were also given translated resources on bowel and cervical cancer.

BreastScreen client Ms Li standing in front of mammogram machine.

BreastScreen Mandarin-speaking client Ms Li.

Ms Li, a Mandarin-speaking client, believes this initiative encouraged her to book and attend her breast screen.

Translated from Mandarin, Ms Li said, "A lot of times, [Mandarin-speakers] don't know how to make a booking, even if we want to make one. It's very critical to allow enquiries in-language; people can then have a chance to understand everything.

The initiative has had very positive feedback so far and will continue to run over the coming months. For more information, please visit Screening for eligible Victorians from diverse backgrounds