In this program, Cancer Council Victoria funded 11 community organisations to run projects about the national bowel and cervical cancer screening programs with culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Australia has two free national programs to test for bowel and cervical cancer:
- National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP)
- National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP)
People from culturally diverse backgrounds can experience extra barriers to participating in these programs. These barriers include less access to healthcare services, services being culturally unsafe, lower English reading and writing skills and different cultural norms about cancer.
The grants program aimed to overcome these barriers by:
- increasing the number of people from multicultural communities that do a bowel or cervical cancer screening test
- building the capacity of community organisations to promote cancer screening
- running cancer screening activities with community organisations that lead to ongoing cancer screening promotion.
In January 2020, Cancer Council invited community and health organisations to apply for a grant up to $5000 to deliver a project that increased bowel or cervical screening participation in three language groups. The Arabic, Mandarin and South Asian (Hindi, Punjabi, Sinhalese and Tamil) speaking communities were chosen because they have large populations in Victoria. Organisations were also encouraged to include participants with a disability, who identify as LGBTIQ+, or who live in rural areas.
Eleven projects were chosen from 26 applications by a committee using selection criteria. Two people from each project attended a five-hour online workshop to learn about bowel and cervical screening and the project. Projects were supported by Cancer Council to adapt their projects to partial or full remote delivery in accordance with the restrictions in place through 2020 and 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This project was funded by the Victorian Department of Health as part of the state’s cancer prevention strategy.
- 22 grantees were trained and supported to deliver their projects.
- 23 further community leaders were trained by the grantees to support the projects
- 11 projects reached 938 direct participants from the Arabic, Mandarin and South Asian languages speaking community.
- A further 1024 community members were reached through conversations with the participants.
The program achieved good results for all four outcomes after the activities. Most people said that they had better knowledge about the screening programs, understood screening more and felt more confident about doing a screen. They also said that they planned to do a screen and tell a family member or friend about the cancer screening programs.
Impact 1: Sharing information
The projects followed up after two months to see if people had acted on their plans. They found that many people had shared the information with friends and family. Grantees were surprised by how many people had shared the information, which meant that 1024 more people heard about cancer screening.
Impact 2: Doing a screen
The second impact of doing a screen had more mixed results. For the bowel projects, the percentage of people that had done a screen varied between 35% to 81%. Some projects that had good results for the first step of ordering the kit, but then less people had gone on to complete it. Some groups completed more kits than they ordered, maybe because they had received the kit as part of the regular bowel screening program already.
The cervical screening projects also had different patterns of screening participation. Some had seen a high impact, for example the playgroup project had 100% of people do a screen, while the refugee project had a lower impact of 7%. This could have been because they had different audiences, different experience delivering health information and were affected in differently by COVID-19. Some of the projects were delayed because of the COVID-19 lockdown between July and October 2021. Therefore, they were still supporting people to go to cervical screening appointments when the program ended in October 2021.
- Support smaller organisations to submit achievable proposals and budgets. Fund the full time and costs of project design, delivery, and evaluation.
- Provide practical tips for engaging more under and never screened participants.
- Encourage activities that spark action, for example combining information with support to attend a screening or order and complete a bowel kit.
- Keep running an evaluation design session with the grantees at the start of the project to maintain the high level of understanding and commitment.