BCNA held its first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Think Tank at our National Summit in March. Forty-eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women representing every state and territory made up the group, which met over three days. The women included breast cancer survivors, Aboriginal health workers and representatives from some of Australia’s major cancer hospitals.
The Think Tank allowed the women to come together to share their stories and lived experiences as survivors. Together, the group worked to develop and prioritise future actions to improve support and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women diagnosed with breast cancer.
The group agreed it was important to establish partnerships between BCNA and national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to develop resources and provide information and services to improve pathways for women returning home after treatment.
On the final day of the Think Tank cultural projects were shared in yarning circles. A Stradbroke Islander weaver presented her beautiful work and discussed how remaining culturally strong and focused saw her through her cancer treatment when she was most unwell.
A possum skin cloak project was shared from Victoria. The presenter discussed the cultural significance and history of the cloak.
The group agreed to develop some locally based cultural healing projects to allow breast cancer survivors to connect and support each other in culturally safe spaces. A weaving project in Queensland and a possum skin cloak project in Victoria will be undertaken and used to support the training of health professionals in local culture and knowledge.
A BCNA National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group will ensure the work discussed at the Think Tank continues.
A video is being produced to share the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women affected by breast cancer.