Optimal cancer care for First Nations Australians

An Australian-first Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Cancer, released by Cancer Australia, charts new approaches to cancer care for First Nations people.


“This Optimal Care Pathway aims to tackle the growing gap in cancer outcomes between First Nations people and other Australians, by supporting the delivery of tailored, culturally safe and competent care,” said Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.


“First Nations people are more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage and are, on average, 40 per cent more likely to die from cancer than non-Indigenous Australians.


“Cancer is the second leading cause of death and one of the biggest challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not just for those diagnosed, but also for families, carers, Elders and communities.”


“This new Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Cancer provides health services and health professionals across Australia with principles and guidance to ensure that cancer care is culturally safe and responsive,” the Mr said.


“Being aware of how a person’s culture, values and motivations can influence their decisions and preferences relating to the delivery of their care is an essential component in creating a culturally competent workforce. It is critical to better outcomes.”


The Optimal Care Pathway is accompanied by information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have or do have cancer, as well as for their carers, families and communities.


Mr Wyatt called on health professionals and health services involved in the delivery of cancer care at every level to read, use, adopt and embed the Optimal Care Pathway into their practice.


“Improving cancer outcomes promises to have a significant impact on Closing the Gap and achieving health equality,” Mr Wyatt said.


“Together we can turn these statistics around and deliver best-practice, culturally appropriate cancer care.


“The impacts of trauma across generations of our people, including historical events, must be acknowledged and addressed. It is important for health services and programs to understand that the biological impact of stress and trauma can be an underlying cause of poor health.”


The Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Cancer has been endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.


The Pathway was developed with the oversight of the National Cancer Expert Reference Group in partnership with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.


For more details, see the Cancer Australia website.


16 August 2018.