Back to accessibility links

A Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Engagement Strategy for BreastScreen NSW

Project Added:
1 February 2016
Last updated:
15 February 2016

A Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Engagement Strategy for BreastScreen NSW


BreastScreen NSW engaged Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, through art workshops that allowed participants to visually express their feelings about breast screening. 

Women from Arabic-speaking communities painting together at the art workshop
Women from Arabic-speaking communities painting together at the art workshop

Women from the Chinese community painting at the workshop
Women from the Chinese community painting at the workshop

This project was the recipient of the 2015 NSW Health Awards, Arts and Health category.
Watch a video of this project.


To promote awareness of the BreastScreen NSW program among women in Arabic-speaking and Chinese communities in NSW.


  • Engages CALD communities.
  • Promotes breast cancer screening and increases the uptake of mammograms among women in the target age group.
  • Improves women’s experience with the service and health outcomes from regular screening.
  • Provides women with an opportunity to openly discuss breast screening with their peers and health professionals, in a safe and supported environment.
  • Acknowledges and respects the feelings, wishes and rights of people affected by cancer and their carers.
  • Helps deliver culturally-appropriate and accessible services to women in CALD communities.
  • Improves health literacy and empowers patients to make well-informed and confident decisions about their health.
  • Helps women advocate for BreastScreen NSW within their local communities.
  • Develops partnerships with CALD communities and other agencies with shared goals.

Finished artworks on display
Finished artworks on display


Research suggests that cultural beliefs about cancer and cancer screening can act as a barrier to breast screening for women from Arabic-speaking and Chinese communities. These attitudes and beliefs include:

  • a strong association between cancer and death
  • a view that cancer is God’s will or due to karma and nothing can be done about it
  • a fear that radiation from mammogram machines can cause cancer
  • a view that cancer is a taboo topic that should not be spoken about.

At the time of implementing the campaign it was estimated that around 10,000 women from Arabic-speaking communities and around 15,000 women from Chinese communities in NSW within the BreastScreen target age group had not received regular mammograms.


  • Two art workshops were developed through Cultural Perspectives (a specialist multicultural consultancy) and CALD community organisations.
  • The workshops began with an education session by Cancer Institute NSW staff, to address concerns and misconceptions about breast screening and explain the importance of the BreastScreen NSW program.
  • Participants broke up into four smaller groups, where they discussed what breast screening meant to them and worked with professional artists from The Mind Gallery to express their ideas visually.
  • In each workshop, four canvas artworks were produced and combined to form a larger artwork, featuring colours and motifs that aligned with BreastScreen NSW branding.
  • The participants’ discussions were developed into a short storyboard, which explained the meaning of each artwork.
  • An event was held at the State Library of NSW to launch the completed artworks, followed by a library tour of the artworks in areas with large Arabic-speaking and Chinese communities.
  • The artworks were incorporated into BreastScreen NSW marketing materials and resources, to promote breast screening in CALD communities.
  • Partner organisations promoted the breast screening campaign to their members and encouraged women to participate in the BreastScreen NSW program.
  • Media releases and photographs of the art workshops and launch activities were distributed to media outlets as part of the marketing campaign.

Women from Arabic-speaking communities showing their artworks
Women from Arabic-speaking communities showing their artworks 

Project status

  • Sustained - the initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business. 

Key dates

  • Project implementation: October 2014 to July 2015 

Implementation sites

  • Burwood Library
  • Bankstown Arts Centre
  • BreastScreen NSW facilities in metropolitan Sydney 


  • BreastScreen NSW
  • The Mind Gallery
  • Cultural Perspectives
  • Metro Assist Migrant Resource Centre
  • Australian Chinese Community Association
  • Chinese Australian Services Society
  • Arab Council of Australia
  • State Library of NSW

Women from the Chinese community displaying their artworks
Women from the Chinese community displaying their artworks


  • The workshops were attended by 20 women from Arabic-speaking and Chinese communities in the BreastScreen NSW target age group.
  • Feedback from participants and community stakeholders who attended the art workshops was overwhelmingly positive. Participants commented that they:
    • had a better understanding of the breast screening process
    • felt less overwhelmed by the prospect of undergoing breast screening
    • now associated breast screening with health and happiness
    • felt more comfortable about having a mammogram and recommending breast screening to other women in their communities.
  • The artworks successfully toured eight libraries in NSW and will be touring BreastScreen NSW Screening and Assessment Services in metropolitan Sydney.
  • The artworks have been featured on postcards that promote BreastScreen NSW services to CALD communities, with an in-language call to action on the back. Additional materials that may be considered in the future include pull-up banners, posters, print advertising, banner displays and other online advertising.
  • A canvas copy of the artworks will be provided to screening and assessment services, for ongoing display at screening locations.
  • Relationships within the BreastScreen NSW Coordination Unit and CALD communities have been strengthened, while partner organisations have continued to support Cancer Institute NSW initiatives for CALD communities, including a cervical cancer screening campaign and the development of the Cancer Institute NSW's Multicultural Plan.
  • A total of 12 media articles were published as a result of media relations activity, which demonstrates the strong level of engagement with media partners during the project.
  • Art is an effective way to open up discussions with women from CALD communities on sensitive health topics.
  • The face to face education sessions allowed myths and misconceptions about mammograms to be addressed.
  • Using prominent community members as ambassadors for screening helped break down barriers that prevented information from reaching CALD communities and provides a trusted, familiar face for communications.
  • The project is transferable to other CALD communities and health programs targeting women in CALD communities.
  • The project is scalable and sustainable, given that it is low cost, easy to implement and positively impacts the patient experience.
  • The learnings from this project have been used to inform other screening and BreastScreen NSW projects with CALD communities, as well as the development of in-language resources.


  • Recipient of the 2015 NSW Health Awards, Arts and Health category.

Launch of BreastScreen artworks
Launch of BreastScreen artworks 

Further reading

  • Phillipson L, Larsen-Truong K, Jones S, Pitts L. Improving cancer outcomes among culturally and linguistically diverse communities: a rapid review of the literature. Australia: The Sax Institute; 2012.
  • BreastScreen NSW. Other languages (opens in a new window). 2016.


Samantha Raheb
Social Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator
Cancer Institute NSW
Phone: 02 8374 3534

Patricia Giannotto
CALD Communities Program Coordinator
Cancer Institute NSW
Phone: 02 8374 5675

Search Projects

Browse Projects

Submit your local innovation
and improvement project