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Data collection underway in ground-breaking First Nations-led cancer study

Joseph Guenzler -

The Kulay Kalingka study, a unique research project, commenced data collection on Tuesday, being the first study of its kind to investigate cancer in Indigenous communities.

The study, initiated at Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation in Condobolin, NSW, aims to address crucial gaps in our understanding of cancer experiences among Indigenous people.

Cancer ranks as the fourth major contributor to the burden of disease within the Indigenous community.

Funded by the Australian Government, specifically Cancer Australia, this study is uniquely designed, governed, and controlled by Indigenous Australians.

Led by the research team at the ANU's National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research, the study aims to inform the upcoming Australian Cancer Plan through its findings.

Although Australia has seen excellent cancer survival rates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals face higher incidence and mortality rates, coupled with lower participation in population screening programs for bowel, breast, and cervical cancers.

Professor Ray Lovett, National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research, ANU said "The Kulay Kalingka cancer study arose from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community needs, to better understand cancer attitudes, beliefs and experiences and from calls for the inclusion of First Nations patients, families and communities in cancer research."

"The study has been designed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community over two years. Community partners have raised access to appropriate information and screening along with culturally appropriate treatment as important to achieving health equity."

The study's goal is to collect approximately 3,000 stories shared by Indigenous people, providing essential evidence to shape government policies, programs, and services that can enhance cancer outcomes.

Recently, the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to improving cancer outcomes by providing culturally sensitive care for Indigenous Australians by investing $238.5 million in the Indigenous cancer space.

Senator Malarndirri Mccarthy said "The Australian Government welcomes the next stage of the Kulay Kalingka cancer study as an important addition in our efforts address cancer control for all Australians."

"Improving the health of First Nations people and Closing the Gap is a national priority, including understanding and improving cancer outcomes in the cities, towns and the bush."

"For the first time, across Australia, First Nations people will be asked about their cancer beliefs and attitudes, experiences, engagement with cancer screening programs, cancer treatment, cancer diagnosis, and caring responsibilities."

Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO, Cancer Australia added "achieving equity in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the most significant ambition of the soon to be released Australian Cancer Plan.

"The Plan emphasises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' leadership and co-design in policies, programs, and services."

"It is essential that data about attitudes, beliefs and experiences of cancer be developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

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