A new report shows the power of local campaigns - including Aboriginal superhero Deadly Dan in his possum skin cloak - are cementing the success of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program, which is being supported by a $183.7 million commitment from the Morrison Government.
An independent evaluation of the program between 2015 and 2018 has found it is on track to achieve long-term objectives to reduce tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A key finding is that TIS-funded communities are taking greater control of delivering localised programs.
A range of education activities similar to the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service’s Deadly Dan project delivered by TIS teams across Australia has resulted in better understanding of smoking related harm.
Survey data reveals 93 per cent of respondents agreed (33 per cent) or strongly agreed (60 per cent) that TIS activities boosted awareness of quitting pathways.
The importance of incorporating ‘local faces for local places’ in social marketing campaigns also featured heavily across the country.
For example, Elder Aunty Girlie features in the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association Inc. (FIAAI) tobacco control campaign Smoking Is Not Our Culture, with a significant impact on the local community.
The report shows short-term outcomes have been achieved, with a growth in partnerships and community engagement, the delivery of locally relevant health promotion for tobacco control and increased access to culturally appropriate quit support.
Overall the program is on track to achieve medium and long-term goals, including exposure to second hand smoke.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable health risk factor, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Our Government is resolute in working together with our people to reduce smoking rates, committing record funding through until 2022 in a continuous effort to close the gap in life expectancy.
The new research was conducted by the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia which will continue to evaluate upcoming activity to support ongoing program improvements.
The findings support an Australian Bureau of Statistics report that found tobacco control measures targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been associated with reduced smoking rates.
The new report is available at https://beta.health.gov.au/resources/publications/tackling-indigenous-smoking-program-final-evaluation-report.