The Castle Hill Cultural Centre was awash with pink recently for Not The Final Screen. The valedictory event marked yet another successful milestone for much-loved community organisation, Pink Sari Inc (PSI).
Wearing trademark pink saris, the dinner gala brought together various stakeholders and representatives from community organisations to showcase remarkable achievements of PSI and ponder over the year that was.
After firing the imagination of South Asian community with innovative projects and award-winning campaigns for breast and bowel cancer awareness, the team of dedicated volunteers at PSI turned the spotlight on another preventable cancer – cervical cancer.
‘Cervical Screening for Survival’ project raised awareness among Indian and Sri Lankan women in the age group 25-74 about the importance of early detection through periodic screening, encouraging them to access the National Cervical Screening Program.
Pink Sari partnered with Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association (AIMGA) and Australian Medical Aid Foundation (AMAF) to increase screening rates in Western and South western Sydney. Community presentations were complemented by live Q and A sessions with well-known GPs.
“This was a big highlight of the program and really helped dispel common myths and misconceptions,” Shantha explained.
The project which was launched in February 2021 has already reached hundreds of women across Sydney, with requests to run more outreach events. “As COVID posed quite a challenge for face-to-face engagement, Pink Sari had to re-invent, innovate and adapt. Our initial sessions went online but once restrictions lifted, we were able to resume in person programs, including the very recent Pink Bus, a fun day out in southwest Sydney,” Shantha Viswanathan from Pink Sari recalled, looking back on the year that was.
Among the dignitaries who joined the celebrations were Councillors Jessica Brazier, Reena Jethi, Sabrin Farooqui and Usha Dommaraju, and Durga Owen, representatives from various community organizations, women’s groups, Department of Health, ethnic language schools, SBS radio and ethnic newspapers and all the GPs who presented at various outreach sessions. Also present was Harmohan Walia from Desi Australia.
Sarah McGill, Interim CEO of Cancer Institute of NSW gave an overview of the institute and its work in the wider community.
AIMGA member Dr Rekha Rao spoke about the challenges and barriers that South Asian women faced in undertaking cervical screening, and how PSI helped in overcoming these barriers and increasing their participation in screening.
Sagarika Venkat and Divya Krishnan from Rasika Dance Academy performed on the occasion.
“It was such a pleasure to celebrate the achievements of our Cervical Screening Project with Cancer Institute NSW, NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and our partners in this project AIMGA – Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association and AMAF – Australian Medical Aid Foundation,”Aparna Tijoriwala who emceed the night’s proceedings, acknowledged.
The function concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Dr Rugmini Venkatraman who had the following message, ”Workshops may come and go, but the screening tide will go on. We look forward to the day when we can confidently say that this is ‘The Final Screen’,.
Till then, the team are ready to roll up their sleeves for more grassroots engagement.