Landmark changes improving access to life-saving cervical screenings

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien has welcomed changes to Australia’s cervical screening tests that make sample collection less invasive and more convenient for women.

From 1 July next year, all people eligible for a cervical screening test will have the option to collect their own sample, in a change that Mr O’Brien said would offer Australian women more control and choice over their cervical screenings.

“Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to offer this personal collection option through our National Cervical Screening Program,” Mr O’Brien said.

“By giving women the choice of how their screening is done, we are making the process easier, more comfortable and less invasive so that more women get tested.”

Self-collection allows women to use a simple swab, similar to a COVID swab, to take a screening sample themselves instead of having a traditional cervical screening test completed by a clinician.

Currently, self-collection is only available to women aged 30 years or over, who have never been screened, or are two or more years overdue, and it will be rolled out to all people eligible for screening on July 1 2021.  

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the move was expected to improve overall screening participation rates, especially in under-screened populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse women.

“The self-collect tests will be accessed through health care providers, including GPs, ensuring these experts continue to play a critical role in supporting patients with cervical screening,” Minister Hunt said.

“Our Government is expanding the eligibility for cervical screening self-collection through a $3.8 million investment in the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS).”

“Self-collected samples are as safe, effective and as accurate as clinician-collected tests.”

The National Cervical Screening Program promotes routine screening with cervical screening tests covered by Medicare every five years for women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 74 years.