ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander women in the Mallee are being invited to make a statement through art about the importance of breast screening.

Three $1000 prizes are on offer for female artists to design artwork to be used on special cultural shawls to be used during screenings later this year, and gifted to each woman who visits the BreastScreen bus.

MDAS Allied Health Coordinator and local artist Crystal Kirby said the aim was to demonstrate to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women that their culture is protected and respected in breast screening.

“It’s fantastic that we’re going to have the BreastScreen bus in the Mallee for two months, and we want to do all we can to encourage everyone who’s eligible or due for screening to take advantage of the free service,” Ms Kirby said.

“Breast Screening is often something women put off, but once they do visit for the first time, they find it isn’t as confronting as they imagined,” she said.

Ms Kirby said research by BreastScreen Victoria had found that most women shy away from the scan due to the cultural safety aspect.

“Feedback tells us that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women can feel a bit uncomfortable about the idea, or are a bit reluctant if they’ve had experiences before in the health system that might not have had that cultural awareness,” she said.

“That’s certainly not the case with the BreastScreen vans, the staff are all female, they’re all sensitive to the feelings and experience of the women visiting.

“The special shawls are a really tangible way of demonstrating that cultural awareness.”

The competition closes on June 15.

Entries can be delivered to MDAS Health Promotion staff in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang and one $1000 prize will be on offer at each centre. Nina and Marjorie – BreastScreen Victoria’s hot pink breast screening vans – will visit Swan Hill and Mildura during August and September.