Cancer Council Victoria and The Country Women’s Association of Victoria (CWAV) have partnered to educate members on cervical screening and protect more Victorians against cervical cancer.
We are seeking your help to host cervical screening education events with your branches to increase your members’ knowledge on cervical screening and help them to access the potentially life-saving test. We encourage members to take the information that they learn from this event back to their friends, families and community to help them protect themselves against cervical cancer.
On this page, you will find all of the information that you need to organise this event and share these messages with your members.
Thank you for your support in hosting a cervical screening education for your branch.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated, if found early.
In Australia, we have a National Cervical Screening Program designed to help support early detection of cervical cancer in the community. Under the program, women and people with a cervix, aged 25 to 74 are invited to have a Cervical Screening Test every five years.
However, we know that many people face barriers to participating in screening – including embarrassment, discomfort and previous negative experiences – with around 1 in 3 eligible Victorians not participating in regular cervical screening.
That’s why Cancer Council Victoria has developed this toolkit for CWAV members, to help spread the word about the importance of regular cervical screening and raise awareness of the new self-collection testing option. Together we can protect more Victorians against cervical cancer.
You will have also received this toolkit in the physical event pack sent to your branch with sample resources and a sample self-collection swab. This is a digital version of this toolkit, if you would prefer to use this or have lost the physical version.
Preparing for your event
1. Arrange a time with your branch to meet
We recommend reserving at least one hour to allow for discussion. However, this can be any date and any length of time that you would like to come together for.
If you would like to tie your event in with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, this week is being marked this year from 13–19 November 2023.
2. Invite your branch members
This event is for CWAV branch members only. Below you will find suggested text to invite members to your education event.
Subject: Join us as we support our branch to prevent cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated if detected early. Yet, each year in Victoria, over 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and sadly over 40 lose their lives to it.
We are hosting a special event to share messages from Cancer Council Victoria to increase awareness of how cervical screening plays a vital role in preventing cervical cancer.
We will explain the Cervical Screening Test (previously known as Pap test or Pap smear) and why it is so important at preventing cervical cancer. We will also share information about the new self-collection test which offers more privacy and comfort.
We want all of our branch members, and their communities, to be healthy and protected against cancer, and this event will help bring us together to do so.
Our event will be on [include event details and how to register].
3. Prepare resources and event run sheet
Finalise your event running order to ensure you have everything ready to go on the day including who is speaking and if there is time for branch members to ask questions.
We have provided a small sample of Cervical Screening Fact Sheets and Self-Collection Wallet Cards in your event pack. If you would like more of these for your event, you can download them here and print them off. You can also send the PDF around to your branch members.
How to download:
- Click on the PDF to open it
- Cervical Screening fact sheet
- Self-Collection wallet card
- Click on the save icon in the top right-hand corner of the document
- Save the PDF in a folder where you will be able to find it later.
- Send this PDF to your branch members or print off more copies to hand out at the event.
During the event
1. Start the event with an introduction
Here is a suggested introduction to start your event:
We are coming together today to learn more about the importance of regular cervical screening and a new testing option called self-collection.
Cancer Council Victoria has provided this information to help us educate ourselves about cervical screening. Following this event, we encourage you to share this information with your family and friends to help them protect themselves against cervical cancer.
Each year in Victoria, over 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and sadly over 40 lose their lives to it.
But cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated, if found early.
Having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is the best way we can all protect ourselves against cervical cancer. Despite this, we know that around one-third of eligible Victorians are not regularly participating in cervical screening.
There is now another testing option, called self-collection. Self-collection lets you collect a sample of cells from your vagina in a private space in a healthcare clinic, using a small swab, which we will get to see today.
Self-collection can help overcome many of the barriers that people face to participating in cervical screening by providing a more private, comfortable and less invasive option. However, community awareness of the self-collection option is still very low.
We encourage you to share the information that you learn about cervical screening and self-collection with your friends and family to help protect more people against cervical cancer.
2. Option 1: Play a cervical screening video from Cancer Council Victoria
In this video, Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Lead, Alice Bastable, discusses more about cervical cancer, Cervical Screening Tests and how Victoria is set to be one of the first places in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.
You can play this video during your event, or you can send it around to your members before or after the event using this link: www.youtube.com/embed/JHfu_Sy1ZeQ
The video running time is about 15 minutes.
2. Option 2: Read out this information on cervical screening and self-collection
You can read out the information below instead of playing the video by Cancer Council Victoria, or to supplement this video with additional information and answer questions from members.
What is cervical screening?
A Cervical Screening Test (previously called a Pap test or Pap smear) is the best way to protect yourself against cervical cancer.
The Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap test in 2017 and can identify people at risk of cervical cancer a lot earlier (about 10–15 years) than the Pap test could. This is why the Cervical Screening Test is only required every five years instead of two years.
What does the Cervical Screening Test look for?
A Cervical Screening Test looks for the presence of HPV. HPV or human papillomavirus is a very common sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.
Usually, your body will clear an HPV infection on its own. If your body is unable to clear this infection, it can cause cell changes in the cervix that can if left untreated, become cervical cancer.
Who needs to do the Cervical Screening Test?
Women and people with a cervix, aged 25 to 74 need to do a Cervical Screening Test every five years, to protect against cervical cancer. This test is provided through the Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program.
There are now two options available for your Cervical Screening Test:
- Option 1: You can collect a sample of cells from your vagina (self-collected) using a small swab.
- Option 2: You can have a healthcare provider collect a sample of cells from your cervix (clinician-collected) using a speculum and a small brush.
Both options are accessed through a doctor or a Nurse Cervical Screening Provider.
What is the self-collection test?
The option to self-collect your Cervical Screening Test became available to everyone in July 2022.
Self-collection lets you collect your own sample from your vagina using a swab. This is done in a private space within a healthcare clinic, usually behind a curtain, or in the bathroom.
It’s quick, easy, private and just as accurate at detecting HPV as a test done by a healthcare provider using a speculum and small brush.
Note: Here you can pass around the sample swab provided in the kit for the attendees to see and hold.
How the self-collected test works:
- Your healthcare provider will give you a swab and show you a private space to do the test.
- Take the swab out of the tube.
- Gently insert the swab into your vagina up to the marked line.
- Rotate the swab 2–3 times for about 10 seconds.
- Put the swab back into the tube.
- Return the tube to the healthcare provider. A lab will then test it for HPV.
A self-collected test needs to be accessed through a healthcare provider and requires a consultation. At this stage, you can’t access self-collection from a pharmacy, and they are not mailed out like the bowel cancer screening kits.
Your healthcare provider may be able to support you doing the self-collected test at home or under the guidance of telehealth and return the swab back to the clinic for testing. Speak to your healthcare provider to find out more about this option.
What if your Cervical Screening Test detects HPV?
If HPV is detected in your self-collected sample, you may need to return to your healthcare provider so that they can collect another sample of cells from your cervix using a speculum and small brush.
If HPV is detected in a clinician-collected sample, the same sample can be used to examine cells of the cervix.
If HPV is detected on your Cervical Screening Test, it’s important you follow the instructions from your doctor.
How do I know if I am due?
If you’re due for your Cervical Screening Test, you will receive a reminder letter from the National Cervical Screening Program. Your healthcare provider may also send reminder letters.
If you are unsure whether you are due for a Cervical Screening Test, you can check with your healthcare provider or contact the National Cancer Screening Register on 1800 627 701 or visit www.ncsr.gov.au
How can you book in for a Cervical Screening Test?
All Cervical Screening Tests need to be arranged through a doctor or Nurse Cervical Screening Provider.
You can book a test at doctor's clinics and most Community Health Centres, Women's Health Centres or at some Aboriginal Health Services.
If you aren’t able to attend a clinic for the appointment, you can speak to your healthcare provider about organising a telehealth appointment.
You can search for a provider near you that suits your needs on Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Screening Directory or call Cancer Council Victoria’s free Information and Support Line on 13 11 20.
Is the test free?
The Cervical Screening Test is free, however your clinic may charge a consultation fee. We recommend calling the clinic beforehand, to check if there are any consultation fees.
Are all clinics offering self-collection?
Since self-collection was made available to everyone eligible for cervical screening in July 2022, Cancer Council Victoria and other agencies have been engaging with healthcare clinics across the state to support them to get self-collect ready. However, we know that some clinics are still getting ready to offer this testing option.
It is recommended that you call your clinic before you attend, to check that they are offering self-collection.
What if your clinic doesn’t offer self-collection?
If you want to try the self-collection option and your clinic does not offer it, you can:
- choose to have the clinician-collected option.
- call other local clinics to see if they offer self-collection.
- find a provider who is self-collect ready using Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Screening Directory or by calling Cancer Council Victoria’s free Information and Support Line on 13 11 20.
- email email@example.com and let us know if your area isn’t offering this option so we can increase our healthcare professional engagement and advocacy in that region.
To find out more about cervical screening and self-collection, visit www.cancervic.org.au/cervical
3. Send your attendees away with these five actions
- If you are due or overdue for a Cervical Screening Test, book in today and speak to your doctor about your options, including self-collection.
- Speak to your friends, family and community about the importance of regular cervical screening and let them know about the new self-collection option.
- Encourage and support friends, family and community members who are due or overdue to book in for their test.
- If the self-collected option is not available in your area, please let Cancer Council Victoria know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so we can increase our healthcare professional engagement and advocacy in that region.
- If you need more information visit www.cancervic.org.au/cervical or call Cancer Council Victoria’s free information and support line on 13 11 20.
4. Close out the event and allow questions
Leave time at the end for discussion and questions from the attendees. You can ask attendees what they think about the new self-collection option and how they might share this information with their friends, family and community.
Remind attendees that they can visit www.cancervic.org.au/cervical for more information.
If anyone in the group has questions about cancer or if the discussion raises any emotions about cancer, encourage them to call Cancer Council Victoria’s free information and support line on 13 11 20.
After your event
1. Fill out the post-event survey
We would love to know how your event went! Fill out the post-event survey at this link and share your feedback.
The survey is short and will only take about 5 minutes to complete. There is space at the end of the survey for you to share testimonials, provide feedback and share your suggestions for future events.
If you have any photos from your event that you would like to share, please send them through to us at email@example.com
2. Share cervical screening messages on social media and email newsletters
Want to spread the message even further? We have developed a campaign toolkit with prepared messages and images for you to share through social media or email to get the word out about cervical screening and self-collection.
Thank you for your support in sharing cervical screening information with your community.
If you would like more information on cervical screening and self-collection, please visit www.cancervic.org.au/cervical
You can also contact Cancer Council Victoria’s screening team on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about cervical screening or your event.
Need cancer information and support? You can talk a specialist nurse at Cancer Council Victoria’s free information and support line by calling 13 11 20.