BreastScreen Victoria urges more from diverse backgrounds to get screened

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Free coffee on your loyalty card is something you wouldn’t skip, right? So why would you skip a free breast screen that could potentially save your life? BreastScreen Victoria has recently sounded the alarm, revealing some concerning statistics that point towards lower rates of breast screening among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in the state.

BreastScreen Victoria provides free 10-minute breast screens to women, trans and gender-diverse individuals aged between 50 to 74 who show no symptoms of breast cancer. While nearly 50% of Victoria’s state-wide population has taken advantage of this life-saving service in the last two years, only 37.1% of those from CALD backgrounds have done the same. That’s a gap that shouldn’t exist.

One would wonder why this gap exists when the stakes are so high. It might be a lack of awareness, cultural stigmas, or even language barriers. Nadia Ghaly, BreastScreen Victoria’s Arabic Bilingual Engagement Officer, offers some perspective from her information sessions. “During an information session in Preston last month, I had a community member tell me that their sister, daughter and niece were diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine screen,” she said. If these screenings hadn’t taken place, that family would be grappling with irreparable losses.

Ghaly adds another layer to the narrative by emphasising that when you get screened, you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re also doing it for your loved ones, your community, and even for those unforgettable life experiences waiting for you down the road. You’re screening for family dinners, for walks in the park with your grandchildren, and for those once-in-a-lifetime trips.

From 2021-2022, a total of 1,926 breast cancers were detected by BreastScreen Victoria. Early detection is crucial, as it facilitates access to timely care and treatment, significantly improving survival rates. Rita Butera, the CEO of BreastScreen Victoria, emphasises the urgency: “I implore Victorian women to book in for a free breast screen this October and prioritise their health.”

And if you’re worried about language being a barrier, BreastScreen Victoria has got you covered. They offer a variety of resources in multiple languages and even offer interpreters to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and what it involves. They aim to be as inclusive and accessible as possible because every life is worth screening for.

To cut a long story short, a free 10-minute breast screen should be on everyone’s to-do list, regardless of their cultural or linguistic background. Whether you’re from a Punjabi, Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, or Vietnamese background, these ten minutes could save your life and preserve countless cherished moments for you and your loved ones.

So, as we revel in the pink hues of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s bridge the gap. Book that free screening today, and while you’re at it, tell your mum, sister, aunt, and friend to do the same. After all, those ten minutes could give you many more years to enjoy your coffee, and much more importantly, your life.

To book your free breast screen, visit or call 13 20 50.

BreastScreen Victoria’s efforts to close the gap in screening rates are commendable, and there’s no better time than now to heed their call. If you’ve been putting off that screening, let this be the nudge you need to prioritise not just your health, but your future.

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