Organise a yarning session on cervical screening

Yarning is an informal way of talking with women about a sensitive topic, like cervical screening

Yarning is an informal way of talking with women about cervical screening—it can help people talk about what may be a difficult or sensitive subject. Yarning also provides the opportunity for community members to discuss their concerns.

WATCH: Improving access to cervical screening through yarning sessions


CASE STUDY: Yarning session in Armidale NSW  

Lynette, an Aboriginal Health Manager for the Peel/Tablelands Sector in the Hunter New England LHD, and her team, wanted to encourage Aboriginal women in Armidale to learn more about cervical screening and decided to do something practical like organising a yarning session for Aboriginal women and schoolgirls. 

Lynette and her team did the following steps for their yarning session: 

  • Promoted the yarning session to schools and local community.
  • Provided prizes and the Institute’s gift bags with cervical screening information and resources to take home.
  • Provided lunch.
  • Used WA’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Program underwear quiz activity to get the women talking about cervical screening.
  • Had a Women’s Health Nurse do a presentation on cervical screening including showing and passing around the cervical screening test equipment.


The following steps may help you to organise a yarning session on cervical screening:

Step 1: Getting started

Check who will be conducting the yarning session (Is it you and/or nurse from a local clinic?).

Consider partnering with local existing groups in the community (An AMS, craft group, Bingo, Schools as Community Centres’ supported playgroups at NSW public schools or exercise groups) to promote the yarning session or ask to run a yarning session at their regular group meeting.

If there are no local existing groups, decide the location of the yarning session and consider:

  • Where is the lowest cervical screening participation in your local region and who can you ask if you can hold your yarning session in this location? 
  • Setting up a yarning session near your local school/AMS/other high foot traffic area to capture as many women as possible, such as mothers as they take their children to school or women already visiting the AMS
  • Is there a private room or venue suitable?
  • Does your clinic usually run yarning sessions? Could you book a date to talk about cervical screening for one of the yarning sessions? 
  • Think about the needs of the local community - could the yarning session be after work hours? Could it be at a location where women usually go with family?

Approach the council or owner and seek permission to use their venue for the yarning session.

For example, if it is at the Community Health Centre, suggest writing to the owner.

  • Is the location safe, easily accessible and how will you make the area private for women to discuss women’s business?
  • Is there enough space to allow free movement while providing a yarning session? 
  • Is there good public transport access/accessible parking?
  • Is it easy to get in and out of the space (entrance/exits clearly marked and well lit, ramps)?
  • Is there access to power and water?
  • Does it meet other relevant public health requirements, such as COVID safety? (For COVID safety, refer to NSW Government’s COVID-19 Safety Plan Template)

Complete all necessary Work Health & Safety assessment forms and send to your local manager and Work Health & Safety Committee for approval. This whole process may take 4-6 weeks.

Get your public liability insurance certificate from your workplace in order to hold the yarning session. This may take up to 2 weeks to be provided to you.

  • If you have a Media and Communications team, consider approaching them and ask for the media release template.

Otherwise, develop a media release 

  • Summarise your key points of what you want people to know about the yarning session.
  • Include your contact details.
  • Request to include the yarning session dates on your organisation’s Facebook page.

Speak with the Health Service Manager and find a GP in town (someone who is well known and respected) to ask if they would mind being interviewed and quoted in a media release.

Find a local champion (e.g. an Aboriginal Health workforce member or well-respected Elder who understands the importance of cervical screening) to assist you with recruiting women and spreading the word to women in their community.

Promote your yarning session by:

  • Provide promotional flyers to your community pharmacy, hairdressers, local existing community groups. 
  • Promote your yarning session through the local Aboriginal radio station such as Koori Radio.
  • Include details about your yarning session in the local community Facebook pages and council website.

If you have a Social Media team, discuss the following with them:

  • Promote your yarning session via social media, get people talking and discussing cervical screening.
  • If you are offering the Institute’s gift bag, make sure to include in your social media post that all women will receive a gift bag on the day (brochures, compact mirrors, lip balms and pens).

Step 2: On the day

Set up signage for the yarning session including signs for the bathrooms.

  1. Begin with Welcome/Acknowledgement of Country.
  2. Cervical screening session including showing cervical screening test equipment.
  3. Lunch. 
  4. Fun activity around cervical screening.

Evaluate your yarning session

It is important to think about and document what went well and what could be done better next time by using survey tools to seek feedback.

Download the cervical screening yarning session checklist >