Lack of and reduced access to radiation oncology is an important factor affecting the cancer outcomes for Indigenous patients. While acknowledging the fact that there is a need for a comprehensive approach, the recommendations below relate specifically to radiotherapy access. The recommendations below are based on the relevant research11,12,14,18,20,22, and responses received during the stakeholder consultation process.
Better data collection on Indigenous access to oncological services
- Development and implementation of a national radiation oncology dataset should include systematic collection of information on Aboriginal status.
Assessment of specific barriers to service access
- Further research is required to identify the reasons for the lower survival rates of Indigenous peoples diagnosed with cancer.
- Additional research is required to identify issues and barriers for Indigenous patients living in urban areas.
Evidence-based strategies to improve access to treatments
- Indigenous patients must have access to radiotherapy as close to their community as possible.
- Accommodation facilities and transportation services for Indigenous patients and their families must be appropriate and available.
- Education and information strategies about cancer including causes, prevention and treatment options must be developed for Indigenous patients.
Improved engagement between the hospital system, local communities and community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services
- Planning for radiation oncology services must take into account specific access issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
- Planning must be undertaken with reference to and in close consultation with the local Aboriginal community-controlled health services.
- Specific strategies, including Aboriginal Liaison Officers at cancer centres, must be developed.
- Initiatives to support Indigenous people to join the radiation oncology professions must be considered and encouraged.