Cervical screening (PI22)

This indicator is the proportion of female Indigenous regular clients aged 25–74 who have not had a hysterectomy and who had cervical screening within the previous 5 years.

It is collected for females in age groups:

  • 25–34
  • 35–44
  • 45–54
  • 55–64
  • 65–69
  • 70–74.

There have been changes to the specification of this indicator over time. See Why cervical screening is important and Technical notes for more information.

Why cervical screening is important

Cervical screening aims to detect and treat precancerous abnormalities that might otherwise progress to cervical cancer. Indigenous women generally experience a high burden from cervical cancer compared with non-Indigenous women (AIHW 2019).

The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP), which aims to reduce mortality from cervical cancer, was originally targeted at women aged 20–69 for a 2-yearly Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, or ‘Pap test’, to detect precancerous abnormalities of the cervix. From 1 December 2017, the NCSP changed to 5-yearly cervical screening for women aged 25–74 using a primary human papilloma virus (HPV) test with partial HPV genotyping and reflex liquid-based cytology triage.

While the HPV vaccine is very effective at protecting against the 2 most common cervical cancer-causing types of HPV, it doesn’t protect against all types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer. This means that both HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated women are recommended to have regular Cervical Screening Tests (the Pap test replacement) to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer.

At June 2021, 40% of female Indigenous regular clients aged 25–74 who have not had a hysterectomy had cervical screening within the previous 5 years.

This was highest in:

  • the Northern Territory (50%)
  • Very remote areas (47%)
  • organisations other than Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (non-ACCHOs) (44%).

Cervical screening, by either state/territory, remoteness or organisation type, reporting period

Two Tableau visualisations are presented here. The first shows the percentage of female Indigenous regular clients aged 25–74 who have not had a hysterectomy in the last 5 years for either:

  • state/territory (NSW/ACT, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, Tas, NT, Australia)
  • remoteness area (Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote, Very remote, Australia)
  • organisation type (ACCHO, non-ACCHO, Total).

Reporting periods of either December 2018, June 2019, December 2019, June 2020, December 2020, or June 2021 can be selected.

The second visualisation shows the selected information from the first visualisation by age group (25–34, 35–44, 45–54, 55–64, 65–74). Age groups are unavailable for reporting periods before December 2020.

Data supporting this visualisation are available in Excel supplementary data tables at Archived content.


AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2019) Cervical screening in Australia 2019, Cancer series no. 123, Cat. no. CAN 124, Canberra: AIHW.