Supporting cancer control for Indigenous Australians: initiatives and challenges for cancer councils

Aust Health Rev. 2008 Feb;32(1):56-65. doi: 10.1071/ah080056.


As in other developed countries, the Australian population is ageing, and cancer rates increase with age. Despite their substantially lower life expectancy, Indigenous Australians are also experiencing concerning cancer statistics, characterised by increasing rates, later diagnosis, higher mortality, and lower participation in screening than the non-Indigenous population. Eighteen months after the first national Indigenous Cancer Control Forum, this environmental scan within the state-based Cancer Councils was undertaken to map activities in service provision in Indigenous cancer control with a view to sharing the lessons learned. The findings show that although most of the organisations had tried to work with Indigenous communities on cancer issues, there have been difficulties in building and sustaining relationships with Indigenous organisations. Lack of having Indigenous staff internally, few Indigenous-specific resources, and few planned, long-term commitments were some of the major impediments. Some of these limitations can easily be overcome by building and improving regional or local partnerships, providing cultural awareness training to internal staff, and by building the capacity of Indigenous organisations. Health promotion projects of the Cancer Councils directed at Indigenous people could be more effectively implemented with such considerations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Australia
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Planning Councils*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*