It’s NAIDOC Week, and Cancer Council NSW’s Aboriginal web resource is turning one. The website was launched last year to raise cancer awareness, offer support services and provide information for Aboriginal communities around the state. So far the interaction has been really positive.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death for Aboriginal people, who are 60 per cent more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people.
We are committed to reducing the numbers of cancer deaths in the Aboriginal community. To work towards this, we initiated the Aboriginal Patterns of Cancer Care project (APOCC), which investigated the reasons behind the increased death rate and assessed the cancer experiences of Aboriginal people in NSW.
The project has provided us with a detailed understanding of the gaps in cancer care for Aboriginal people, including the barriers that are likely to prevent access to appropriate and timely cancer care. These insights have informed the content and structure of the website.
Findings from the APOCC project suggested that Aboriginal people view and experience the health system differently from non-Aboriginal people and may be reluctant to undergo cancer treatment due to fear and confusion surrounding the disease, alongside practical barriers, including transport to treatment and financial obstacles.
Our Aboriginal web portal was designed with the findings of the APOCC project in mind, as well as in consultation with the Aboriginal community. A year after going live, trends for what type of content visitors find most useful have become apparent. Aboriginal people told us that they wanted stories about Aboriginal people’s experiences with cancer, particularly stories about people who have survived cancer. These stories have proved to be popular and visitors look for stories from the community – for example, Robin Payne’s journey was high up on the list.
Practical pages, such as accommodation information for patients and carers, were also popular with site visitors, as were research results.
We think that the popularity of the site reflects a need for culturally appropriate cancer information in the Aboriginal community.
Although there is still much work to do to close the gap, the site helps improve access to information and resources to help break down the barriers that exist.
Cancer Council NSW is encouraging Aboriginal communities and healthcare providers all around NSW to continue visiting the site to learn more about cancer treatment, support and research for Aboriginal people.
You can access the site at www.cancercouncil.com.au/aboriginalcancer
 Supramaniam R, Grindley H, Pulver LJ: Cancer mortality in Aboriginal people in New South Wales, Australia, 1994-2002. Aust N Z J Public Health 2006, 30:453–6.