Fiona’s story – Promoting breast screening in my community

Fiona Millard encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to have a breast screen. She talks about the van that is used to provide screening services in remote areas.


My name is Fiona Millard and I’m the Health Promotions Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council and I work up in the communities of Pormpuraaw, and Kowanyama which is up in the Cape area, in Far North Queensland.

I deliver education around breast screening and breast awareness. Some of the topics that I talk about are making sure that you get your breasts checked.

So it’s really important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to get screened. The van visits the communities every 2 years. And we promote women over 50 years of age.

One of the best ways to get the message out is communication — through activities, and through yarning sessions we promote when the van is coming up.

The van itself is actually is a big promo — it’s huge, it’s pink and it’s got ‘su-sus’ all over it, and they drive through and the women all know then that it’s in the community.

The van will come in, and you’ll get a time for an appointment. There’ll be one other nurse with you in the van and she’ll take you in the van by yourself and she’ll show you what to do. So you’ll take your top off, and there’s a machine there and you’ll put your breast in the machine and she’ll manoeuvre you so that when they take photos they can get the best photos of your breast. They’ll do left and right and they’ll do both breasts. If you’re not sure or you’re feeling a bit frightened, don’t be, just ask the nurse what’s happening. You can always talk to a health worker about some of the procedures. And you can always ask someone else who’s had the procedure done, like an Aunt or someone who’s really close and they’ll talk to you about the procedures. And it’s quite safe, everything is very private. No one can see in the van as well. But it’s really important to make sure you get your breasts checked.

If the van comes into community and you’re not in community at the time or you miss the van, you can still get your breast mammogram done, you just have to ring the clinic or you can ring BreastScreen Australia yourself.

And what we are trying to promote is early intervention. So get checked early. It’s a really simple procedure and it doesn’t hurt and you’re in a safe environment and there’s a lot of women out there that want to support you to have this done.

But they’re all women, and we’ve all got ‘su-sus’, or ‘konks’, or breasts — there’s all different words for our breasts — but we’ve all got them and it’s really important that we get screened.

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Fiona is a Health Promotions Officer who works in the Cape area in Far North Queensland. Fiona explains her role as an educator, the screening process, and encourages women to book in for a mammogram.

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