For the first week of July each year, NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The theme for this year, For Our Elders, acknowledges the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders have played and continue to play and hold in communities and families.
To mark NAIDOC Week this year, we spoke with Uncle Clarke Scott, Cancer Council Aboriginal Advisory Committee member, about his experiences working with Cancer Council NSW in creating and developing culturally safe and responsible services and information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in healthcare positions
Uncle Clarke is a Wiradjuri man with close connections to community across the Central West and Riverina regions of NSW. He is a member of Cancer Council NSW’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee and has a wealth of experience working in Aboriginal community health.
Uncle Clarke has a strong understanding of what is needed to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across NSW, “I think it’s mainly about the word being out among the community. So, with the Advisory Committee having the connection to community to be able to pass on the information from Cancer Council with their pamphlets and all that type of thing,” he says.
In communities, Uncle Clarke explains how the employment of specific Aboriginal staff is vital for culturally safe advice and support, “I think it’s so good that we’re able to help the Aboriginal community with understanding cancer. It’s really important that Aboriginal health workers can provide that cultural advice to the non-Aboriginal staff and cultural support to our community members.”
Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access cancer care and services
Uncle Clarke believes Cancer Council NSW has a commitment to reconciliation: “I’m so happy that Cancer Council has put an advisory committee together and is willing to take advice from outside with the different services involved,” he says, “Because of the past things that have happened… there is still that fear within the non-Aboriginal services and, if we can have Cancer Council Aboriginal staff involved, it gets our mob to go in, to have things looked at early.”
Uncle Clarke concludes by saying, “Cancer Council has a 13 11 20 number. I encourage our communities to contact that number with any concerns and the medical staff on the other end will advise and be able to refer to specific Aboriginal organisations if needed.”
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tailored information, visit our Aboriginal Portal.
If you have any questions or concerns about cancer, call Cancer Council’s free Information and Support number on 13 11 20.