Van removal sparks protests
With 12,600 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2006 and a projected 15,400 by 2015, it is vital that breast screen services were easily accessible for people living in rural areas.
“As everyone knows, early detection is vital to a good outcome and part of that is providing easy access for women to be screened by mammograms,” breast cancer survivor and facilitator/co-ordinator of the Byron Bay Breast Cancer Support Group Barb Pinter said.
“The removal of the mobile breast screening vans from the Byron and Ballina areas is a retrograde step that is putting the health and well-being of women at risk.”
Ms Pinter was speaking at a rally in Byron Bay last Wednesday held to protest the removal last year of the mobile service by North Coast Area Health Service. A similar rally was held in Ballina.
“The mobile breast screening vans are vital and there was no community consultation when they were removed,” Ms Pinter said.
“Working women and women who do not drive are now at a real disadvantage, as the closest breast screening centres are at Lismore and Tweed Heads.
“There are also a lot of women who are living under the poverty line in this area and who can’t afford to get the bus to Lismore. Many women will now not bother getting screened.”
The group will send a petition to the Minister for Health and the North Coast Area Health Service asking for the mobile vans to be reinstated.
Meanwhile, Ballina MP Don Page has submitted a petition to the NSW Parliament containing more than 1300 signatures of local people opposed to the removal of the mobile breast screening vans on the Far North Coast. If people would like to sign the group’s petition, it’s available at the Byron Bay Community Centre and at Video Connection, Byron Bay.