IMAGE: A young woman who uses a wheelchair, smiling

Supporting our clients to access cervical screening

Did you know that people with disability participate in cervical screening at lower rates than people without disability? We’ve partnered up with the Cancer Council Victoria to support our clients to access and keep up to date with this important health check.

While many women and people with a cervix delay getting a cervical screening test (previously known as a pap smear), cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and is curable if detected and treated early.

Research has also found that the underuse of screening programs for breast, cervical and bowel cancer among people with physical and or intellectual disabilities is common. *

We’ve been working with Cancer Council Victoria to identify clients across our sites and services who are eligible and due for their cervical screening to assist them with accessing cervical screening through their doctors or through a self-collection process which can be done in the comfort of their own home.

Yooralla staff have been working with clients to initiate conversations, to empower them with knowledge and understanding of the cervical screening. When requested, this has been done with the support of a registered nurse. This has allowed clients to make informed choices and take control of their health in a proactive manner.

As was the case for two of our residential clients who were eligible for a cervical screening. A chat over a cup of tea with some trusted female Yooralla employees, helped to provide an opportunity for a safe way to talk through questions and concerns. Following this conversation both clients decided they wanted to go ahead with the screening.

“I decided to visit the house and asked to have a casual chat and a cuppa with each of them,” said Mardi, Home and Living Group Manager.

“I think the conversation helped remove any barriers the women were facing, especially my relating to being due for the test and previously not knowing this test can be completed in the home now.” said Mardi.

The ability to complete a cervical screening at home is incredibly beneficial for people with disability to access the test.

“For one resident, [self-collection] is a great opportunity as she uses a wheelchair, and the GP has had no options in the past with using a hoist to [be able to] perform the procedure,” said Mardi.

“The clients felt they were in a safe space in their unit [to do the test] and (the clients) commented on feeling vulnerable in a clinic with a GP and nurses.”

“The known staff member also offered to be present at the time (of the home test). Both clients felt comfortable with this and didn’t hesitate to sign up for the test,” said Mardi.

If you are a woman or person with a cervix aged between 25 and 74 years old and have had sexual contact with anyone of any gender, you are eligible for a cervical screening.

Most people who are due for a cervical screening test will be eligible for self-collection. Learn more about cervical screening on the Cancer Council Victoria website.

For more information about Yooralla and the Cancer Council Victoria’s screening program, you can contact Yooralla’s Disability Health team on

*Iezzoni LI, Rao SR, Agaronnik ND, El-Jawahri A. Associations Between Disability and Breast or Cervical Cancers, Accounting for Screening Disparities. Med Care. 2021;59(2):139-147.

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