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Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities

Case study: Group mammogram bookings in an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander setting

Case study detailing the advantages of organised group mammogram bookings in an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander setting.


Group bookings have traditionally been successful with the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community, however generally the group bookings are made opportunistically. This project aimed to make regular group appointments, so that the community knew there were always bookings that they could attend.

This intervention was a partnership approach by the local BreastScreen Victoria service, the local Aboriginal Health Service and Cancer Council Victoria.

Details of the project

  • Organised regular group bookings 4 to 6 weeks apart for groups of 2 to 7 Aboriginal women in an Aboriginal catchment.
  • A project worker based at the Aboriginal Health Service organised group bookings in advance and liaised directly with the local BreastScreen site. Women could choose to be picked up for their appointment and morning tea was offered during the session.
  • The intervention was evaluated by the number of group bookings held and number of women attending bookings.

Important achievements

The partnership led to five group bookings held over 13 months, with 21 women screened, compared to the previous year which had one group booking and only eight women screened.

What worked well?

  • Direct relationship between the Aboriginal Health Service and local BreastScreen provider.
  • Flexibility to allow for women to be added or removed from list with little notice.
  • Transport made available for women to get to clinic.
  • The provision of morning tea for women during group booking.
  • Pap tests made available at clinic if women were interested.

Enablers to screening

  • Allowing sufficient time to plan and recruit women.
  • Ensuring adequate organisational support and resources (e.g. a dedicated worker).
  • Having an Aboriginal health professional from an Aboriginal Health Service involved in the coordination of the group bookings, by participating in the sessions, organising follow-up reminders, and advising on barriers that may need to be overcome to support women to attend.
  • Holding a cancer screening information session over lunch provides a supportive environment.
  • Providing information to prepare women for the mammogram and to raise awareness of the importance of cancer screening in general.


  • Not all the Aboriginal Health Service staff knew about the regular group booking despite promotion.
  • Group bookings were cancelled due to sorry business, illness or difficulties getting to Aboriginal Health Service.


  • Start with letting all staff (clinic and community staff) know about how the group booking will work and how to book patients and clients in.
  • A central booking system e.g. a reception staff member where all clinicians or community workers could book patients and clients would allow for a more sustainable model.
  • Acceptance that non-attendance may sometimes result due to factors mentioned in ‘challenges’.