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Culturally and linguistically diverse communities

Case study: Community-led cancer prevention education during COVID-19 in Melbourne’s northwest

Bicultural workers in Melbourne’s northwest designed and delivered cancer prevention education with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to counteract the barriers of COVID-19.


Cervical, bowel screening and hepatitis B testing are some of the most effective tools available to prevent cervical, bowel and liver cancer developing or treat it in the early stages. During COVID-19, the number of people screening and testing in Victoria reduced (Lotfi-Jam, 2021). The community in northwest areas of Melbourne were particularly impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, with high case numbers and large populations of priority groups from culturally diverse backgrounds (ABS Census, 2021). This is why this area was selected for the project, to encourage these groups to keep up to date with their cancer prevention.

Project description

Cancer Council Victoria worked with 20 bicultural workers from four community organisations to raise awareness in priority communities about cervical and bowel screening and hep B testing. Bicultural workers designed and delivered tailored community engagement activities both online and remotely with 10 language groups between July and August 2021.

This project was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and formed part of a bigger project. The Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC) and North West Melbourne Public Health Network (NWMPHN) delivered activities that encouraged health professionals to promote screening and testing.

Project outcomes

Bicultural workers reached 2052 people with their promotion activities. The activities were divided up into three periods depending on the pandemic restrictions.

Period Activities Reach
Open Large in person groups Only two in-person presentations to larger groups were implemented before the pandemic lockdown reaching 72 people.
Medium Small in person groups or individual support In the intermediate period before lockdown, bicultural workers held nine smaller in-person informal groups in homes and one in a café reaching 82 people.
Lockdown Fully remote activities When full lockdown came into force, activities were adapted to remote delivery with larger online Zoom groups reaching 1113 people, recording YouTube videos or livestream on social media reaching 1127 people and providing personalised support over the phone or opportunistically as part of other work reaching 631 people.

Project learnings

  • The bicultural workers and their project managers did an exceptional job overcoming the challenges of a very short timeframe and delivering community engagement during an active COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The creative and tailored strategies designed by the bicultural workers meant the project could still be a delivered during a difficult period.
  • The diverse projects delivered and range of engagement from the communities demonstrates the importance of investing in tailored responses rather than a one size fits all approach to maximise awareness about screening equitably for all Victorians.


Lotfi-Jam, K. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on cancer screening participation and behaviours in Victoria. Retrieved from Melbourne, Australia:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021) Search census data [], ABS Website, accessed 08 September 2022.