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Getting the community together to raise awareness of bowel cancer screening among LGBTQ people

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Much-loved LGBTQ community figures are fronting a new bowel cancer screening awareness campaign targeting people of diverse sexualities and genders developed by NSW’s leading LGBTQ health organisation, ACON, in partnership with the Cancer Institute NSW.

Launched during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Get Your Kit Together aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer and the importance of regular bowel screening, and increase screening rates among LGBTQ people aged 50-74 in NSW.

It features a video that demystifies the self-sampling process, which is done with a Home Test Kit sent to eligible Australians aged of 50-74 by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Adopting a fun and engaging instructional approach – inspired by Jazzercise clips of the 1980s – the campaign video shows how quick and easy kits are to use with the help of a range of a range of LGBTQ community identities including Indigenous drag icon Nova Gina, Trans Pride Australia co-founder Peta Friend, comedian Denise Hanlon and broadcaster Michael El-Bacha.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the campaign responds to the ongoing need to raise awareness about bowel cancer risks and increase screening rates among LGBTQ people.

“As one of the most common forms of cancer, many people in our communities will have personally experienced bowel cancer or have had someone close to them impacted by it. Get Your Kit Together aims to bring awareness to the screening process in a light-hearted and humourous way, inspire conversations and encourage people to test,” Parkhill said.

“Despite being a community that on the whole is very aware of the national bowel cancer screening program, many LGBTQ people between the ages of 50 and 74 have never used, or only used some of the test kits they had received in the mail.

“Working with focus groups, we developed an inclusive campaign that addresses issues relating to under use of Home Test Kits, and improving knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours relating to bowel cancer risk factors that all people over the age of 50 face.”

In developing Get Your Kit Together, ACON heard from community members who felt that a lack of LGBTQ representation in mainstream cancer screening and prevention campaigns made messaging feel less relevant and engaging to them.

“Throughout all of ACON’s cancer campaigns, we have understood the real need for inclusive messaging and visibility of everyone who makes up our LGBTQ community, especially First Nation and trans and gender diverse people,” Parkhill added.

“Therefore, we have ensured that our campaign is inclusive and representative of the diversity of our communities, with a mix of different cultural backgrounds, gender identities, ages, and different body shapes and sizes.”

Developed with the support of the Cancer Institute NSW, the campaign is the latest in ACON’s suite of cancer awareness initiatives, which are now coming together under ACON’s new cancer prevention brand and website, Can We, for LGBTQ people about cancer screening and prevention and how to reduce your cancer risk.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, said partnering with community organisations such as ACON was key to reaching communities that are under screened, and are at higher risk of poorer health outcomes.

“Cancer knows no boundaries and everyone, no matter who they are and how they identify, needs to know how they can reduce the risk of cancer and detect it as early as possible. It is a key priority of the NSW Cancer Plan that we are able to reach and engage with everyone at risk,” Professor Currow said.

“That’s why it’s important we partner with organisations like ACON, as they have trusted relationships and a strong track record of engaging with LGBTQ communities in specific ways targeted to their needs.”

Parkhill added: “Get Your Kit Together celebrates our amazing and incredibly diverse communities in NSW and highlights the need for safe and inclusive campaigns for people in our communities, which can help them to come together and support each other.”

Along with a video, Get Your Kit Together features out-of-home advertising across NSW, including regional placements, in print, digital and social media.

“ACON is grateful to the NSW Cancer Institute who continue to work in close partnership in supporting our community-led campaigns. As always, we are also deeply grateful to the community members and groups for helping to shape and get behind this important campaign,” Parkhill said.

Get Your Kit Together aims to encourage LGBTQ people to come together and fight bowel cancer by having conversations, improving our understanding of risk factors, and learn more about how simple and easy at-home screening is for each of us.”

Find out more about the Get Your Kit Together campaign and view video here.

For more information about Can We, go to canwe.org.au.

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