Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Yarning About Cancer: Training support group leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities   (#385)

Sally Carveth 1 , Kim Pearce 1 , Angela Pearce 1 , Sharon Valks 1 , Annette Beattie 1
  1. Cancer Council NSW, Woolloomooloo, NSW, Australia


Cancer Council NSW aims to improve access to support and information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with breast cancer, through establishing culturally appropriate breast cancer peer support group leaders in their local communities.


An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Peer Support Group Leader training workshop was built incorporating existing training materials along with new resources and ideas. Existing materials included an Indigenous training program and the publication: Cancer Support Groups: A guide to setting up and maintaining a group. Importantly, facilitators attended Cancer Council NSW’s Cultural Awareness training.

Engagement and development of a relationship with an Indigenous trainer was critical in the development of the workshop. Acknowledging the importance of place, training was held at a culturally appropriate venue.

Recruitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to undertake training who had a diagnosis of breast cancer, health care workers, elders and/or community members was also undertaken.

This resulted in the implementation of a two day training workshop, followed by an in depth evaluation of outcomes.


Sixteen women attended and completed the two day training program. The pre- and post-evaluation method consisted of both qualitative and quantitative methods because of the diversity of issues addressed. Artwork activities were also utilised as an evaluation tool. Results identified that participants developed new skills, built and strengthened relationships and increased their confidence to establish support groups. 


The success of the workshop raised awareness of the following: the value of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander facilitator; capacity of facilitators to suspend agenda and be flexible; the impact of cultural norms around group dynamics; utilising creativity for expression of individual opinions, and to ensure ongoing assistance for the leaders by Cancer Council NSW.