Cancer death rates are 30 per cent higher for Aboriginal people than other Australians, and in some parts of remote Australia, it's as high as 65 per cent.
To help close this gap, we've created a new educational video for health professionals who work with Aboriginal communities to increase knowledge about cancer and it's prevention, screening, early detection, treatment, and support.
Mum-of-four Tasha Kickett was 35 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013.
She's now cancer-free and determined to empower other Indigenous women to take part in cancer screening programs and be aware of any changes in their body.
"It's really important to get the word out about listening to your body - particularly to mums. You can't look after your family if you're sick. Kids are resilient, but you don't ever want them to need to be," Tash explains.
"You need to make sure your health is a priority. Be able to look after yourself.
"I had symptoms; I'd been really tired but I attributed that to being a working mum, and there were other ‘girl things' like bleeding that I just put down to contraception.
"Particularly as an Aboriginal woman your body is very private; I'd say that's why a big number of Aboriginal women avoid going to their doctor when something's not right.
"Cervical cancer is completely preventable. The new test can pick up abnormalities in your cells before it turns into cancer.
"The split-second decision to get that test saved my life. Definitely"
Read more about Tasha' story in our annual review
Education is key to closing the gap
A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released on Close the Gap day shows between 2009 to 2013 Indigenous Australians were 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer as non-Indigenous Australians.
"The gap in cancer outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unacceptable. Culturally-appropriate accessible education and services are the key to saving lives," our Education and Research Services Manager, Cassandra Clayforth said.
The report has prompted a call from Cancer Council Australia for Indigenous leaders to talk more about cancer within Aboriginal communities, in order to remove the stigma that is attached to the disease.
"This video is available in DVD, USB and URL link formats and will hopefully help to do that because it can be played to Aboriginal audiences anywhere in the state and will also be accompanied by a yarning guide.
"The idea behind this is that it will help Aboriginal leaders, Aboriginal health workers and health professionals working with Aboriginal people to feel more confident talking about cancer with their clients and community, because let's face it, cancer is complex!"
Cancer Council WA would like to acknowledge the support of Healthway and the Australian Health Promotion Association in producing this video.
Our Aboriginal Cancer Education Video is available for health professionals to order here or you can call us on 13 11 20.
The video has clear and simple messages and gives facts about cancer to help break down the myths and fears surrounding cancer. The video has six chapters that look at:
• What is cancer?
• Risk factors and prevention (what causes cancer)
• Screening (National screening programs)
• Finding cancer early (what symptoms to look for)
• Treatment and support
• Summary (a bit of everything above).
• Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in Aboriginal Australians.
• In 2009-2013, there were 175 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Aboriginal Western Australians. Slightly more women than men were diagnosed with cancer; 93 cases in women or 53% and 82 cases in men or 47%.
• In 2009-2013 there were 83 deaths from cancer in Aboriginal Western Australians. The most common causes of cancer-related death in men were from lung and liver cancers, and for women were lung and breast cancers.
• Social disadvantage, higher smoking rates, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and poor access to health services are some of the major contributing factors to the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health.
Find out more
Order a copy of the Aboriginal Cancer Education Video
Read more about cancer screening and early detection
Read more about reducing your cancer risk
Read more about Cancer Council WA's work with Aboriginal communities
For more information about cancer statistics in Aboriginal Western Australians, see our Cancer in Aboriginal people fact sheet (pdf 310kb)