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VACCHO celebrates launch of Beautiful Shawl Project Documentary on Indigenous health

Giovanni Torre -

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) has launched a new documentary showcasing the staunch Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have brought the Beautiful Shawl Project to life over the past year, and their stories.

The feature shares Aboriginal and Torres Strait women's breast screening experiences in Victoria through the Beautiful Shawl Project. And includes personal insights from women who screened with the Beautiful Shawl Project – as well as those who carry out vital work increasing Community awareness and engagement around the Project.

On Tuesday VACCHO paid tribute "to the many women who generously shared their stories, wisdom, and insight as part of this inspiring film".

The Beautiful Shawl Project is a collaborative program between VACCHO and BreastScreen Victoria. It is a Community-led initiative providing "safe and empowering" breast screening experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in a culturally safe setting. 

Since its launch in 2019, The Beautiful Shawl Project has worked in partnership with over 25 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and other organisations with their Aboriginal-led teams to provide over 1000 lifesaving breast screens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Of those screened, 29 per cent were first time screeners and 39 per cent were lapsed (overdue) at the time of their breast screen.

VACCHO chief executive Jill Gallagher AO said The Beautiful Shawl Project documentary demonstrates the transformative health outcomes that can be achieved by culturally safe and responsive cancer screening initiatives.

"I'd like to sincerely thank the incredible women who shared their deeply personal stories as part of this beautiful documentary – I think it's an amazing film," she said.

"This documentary captures the essence of what The Beautiful Shawl Project is about – Aboriginal women leading the way with vibrant, culturally driven artwork, and amazing stories.  

"The documentary demonstrates the power of having Aboriginal women in the driver's seat – and the positive health and wellbeing outcomes that are created by doing so. I'd like to pay tribute to Communities across Victoria for embracing the Beautiful Shawl team with open arms on visits across Victoria. We look forward to seeing the Beautiful Shawl Project expand to new locations across the state in 2024 and beyond."   

The full documentary can be watched online.

VACCHO pays tribute to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and BreastScreen Victoria for their partnership and vision in supporting an initiative that assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities feel empowered and connected to culture.

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