This is an update on the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Strategy Forums.
Thank you to Professor Gail Garvey and Dr Lisa Whop for this information. I have copied and pasted the PDF that was sent o
This is a summary of the key discussions across both forums, that will be used to inform and shape the strategy
Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Strategy: Summary of Consultation Workshops
The Menzies School of Health Research project team thanks all participants who attended consultation workshops for the development of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Strategy in Brisbane on 28th November and Cairns on 9th December 2019. We appreciate your generous contribution of knowledge, innovative ideas and time.
This document provides a summary of the rich feedback we received from over fifty participants. The people who took part represented diverse perspectives and organisations and came from urban, regional and remote parts of Queensland. They included cancer survivors and carers and people working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Controlled Health Organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations, primary health care services, Hospital and Health Services, palliative care services, universities, cancer control peak bodies, Cancer Australia and Queensland Health.
The aim of this project is to develop a Cancer Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland. The long-term goal of the Strategy is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates, and improve survival rates and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland. In developing the Strategy, we will:
- Set out a high-level roadmap to achieve the goal of improved cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland
- Build a shared understanding of the current landscape of cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland
- Identify priorities for action, including timeframes and areas of responsibility.
Purpose of the consultation forums
The project team consulted with stakeholders to identify the priority issues and gaps across the cancer continuum that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland, and gathered ideas about solutions to address these. This information will shape the Strategy.
What we heard
We overwhelmingly heard that there is great diversity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Queensland and in the issues facing people around cancer. The Strategy must recognise this diversity and be relevant to local Hospital and Health Services and other local health care services. We also heard that improving cultural safety in health care services and addressing institutional and individual racism is a top priority.
The most important barriers to overcome
Participants at the consultation forums identified the following barriers as the most important to overcome:
• Lack of easily accessible and culturally appropriate information about cancer for consumers and carers, including about how to reduce risks, symptoms to look out for, what happens during diagnosis and treatment, and what is palliative care.
• Racism, discrimination and a lack of culturally safe health care providers and other staff in mainstream health care services.
• Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t feel confident to ask health professionals questions and demand their health rights.
• There is stigma and a lack of understanding about cancer in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
• Cultural needs and beliefs are often not respected or taken into consideration, and there is a need to better support the social and emotional wellbeing of people with cancer and their families and carers.
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in isolated and remote areas have poor access to services across the cancer continuum.
• Significant practical barriers to accessing services including financial barriers, distance from home and family supports, transport challenges, unsuitable accommodation, limited support to return to country, lack of practical information about where and how to get services and equipment.
• Data sets do not link up and are not always complete and accurate, and data systems are designed around needs of service providers rather than consumers.
Potential solutions – what you told us
Forum participants shared many excellent suggestions to address the major barriers. Below is a summary of the most commonly raised suggestions.
• Improving the knowledge and understanding of people working in the health system about meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities.
• Providing person and family-centered care that facilitates cultural and spiritual needs; improving the cultural safety and sensitivity of all staff; not tolerating racism in health care services.
• Improving health literacy using diverse community education and engagement methods, for example engaging with local community champions such as cancer survivors; promoting and facilitating self-care such as pamper days combined with screening education; busting cancer myths and misconceptions; developing locally tailored resources and kits such as video story telling; conducting routine health checks and awareness-raising; encouraging yarning groups, and establishing art programs for people to tell their story.
• Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in mainstream health services and building cancer knowledge within the health workforce, e.g. Aboriginal Health Workers could be utilised much more in the cancer space, by having cancer-specific positions.
• Providing greater financial and other practical support to ensure consumers and carers can access appropriate transport, accommodation, equipment, allied health and financial and social supports.
• Creating service models that reduce the need for patients to travel and manage multiple appointments, such as telehealth consultations, one-stop-shop services and increasing access to specialist services in rural and remote areas.
• Improving data sharing and reporting back to local communities and services to support local control of health care priorities and solutions.
• Improving coordination of care and information sharing. For example: a comprehensive and timely discharge plan provided by the treating doctor to the GP; regular communication between GPs, hospitals, specialists and pharmacists in order to best support their patient;
provision of an easily accessible point for information and assistance to navigate the system and understand medical jargon, such as a nurse navigator; planning ahead to ensure an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer or other appropriate support person is available during discussions with patients and carers about diagnosis and treatment; ensuring patients have good follow-up and awareness about risks of remission; and, providing the patient with clear documentation of their healthcare journey.
• Feedback gathered through the consultation forums will be used to develop the Cancer Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland. The draft Strategy will be reviewed by the members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-majority Project Advisory Group.
• The consultation forums clearly identified that stakeholders in every part of Queensland’s cancer control sector will have an important role to play in implementing the Strategy.
If you have any additional feedback or ideas about potential solutions please contact Lisa Whop or Kate Wilkinson on the contact details below. We welcome your ongoing contribution to this important project.
Lisa Whop, phone (07) 3169 4221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Kate Wilkinson, phone 0404 161 232 email email@example.com