Hi Tackling Indigenous Smoking teams
I firstly wanted to send my best wishes to those of you who have been dealing with serious weather conditions in your parts of Australia this month. We’ve all been watching the reports of rains and flooding in Queensland and New South Wales and I know it’s going to have a big impact on how the TIS teams in these areas are able to conduct their work. Your minds will currently be on the clean-up and getting your communities back on track, so that should be your priority right now. Please keep NBPU and FAMs informed where significant delays or disruption to your normal business are experienced and don’t hesitate to give me a call if I can support your teams in working through this difficult time and being able to return to your important TIS work.
Last week I had my first COVID-19 vaccination in Canberra alongside the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, and Member for Barton the Hon Linda Burney MP, as well as Ngunnawal elders Loretta Halloran and Caroline Hughes. I might have a little more padding than most but the injection didn’t hurt at all – the needle was tiny. I also suffered no side-effects, so I just want to encourage you all to get vaccinated as soon as you’re able or are called up by your ACCHO. It’s not just for the over-55s at this stage of the roll-out, either: if you have a chronic condition, you should also speak with your local GP to discuss receiving your first vaccination. Australia has done a great job of keeping the virus out of our communities and the infection rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been very low, so the vaccine roll-out is the latest way to protect our mob from COVID-19. You can check your vaccination eligibility and find answers to many vaccine-related questions on the Department of Health website here
Left to right: Prof Tom Calma AO; Julie Tongs OAM, Winnunga Nimmityjah AHS CEO; Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP; Hon Linda Burney MP (image courtesy of Ken Wyatt's Twitter account)
Earlier this month I took part in the TIS Remote Services Workshop, which was held online due to the ongoing health directives around travelling to remote and very remote jurisdictional areas. COVID-19 might have prevented us from all catching up in person in Darwin for this event as initially planned, but it was still a great opportunity to hear stories from teams across Australia who are delivering innovative programs in spite of the difficulties this last year has presented. Well done to the workshop guest speakers and all of you who took part.
One of the next big NBPU TIS events on the calendar will be the National TIS CEOs Workshop in late May, which will also be a virtual event. This is a good opportunity for TIS teams to raise issues you might be having in your area (for instance, an inability to travel because of limited funding) so the issues can be raised with CEOs. If you feel uncomfortable flagging these concerns, please feel free to anonymously submit your issues and be assured that, like in past CEO meetings, no team or individual will be identified. Get in touch with your NBPU TIS project manager and they will be able to confidentially ensure these matters are drawn to my attention so they are presented in the CEOs Workshop. For reference, it might be worthwhile having a look at what was covered in last year’s CEOs Workshop on the NBPU TIS website here
. We want to ensure we get on top of any problems you might be experiencing so we can continue to deliver solid evidence-based results as we enter our final 16 months of the current Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.
This month I also chaired the videoconference for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Technical Advisory Group (TIS TAG), where we discussed a number of priorities for the coming months. There’s an overview of our meeting in this month’s newsletter or you can give the TIS TAG communique a look here
One of the organisations involved funded by TIS is the University of Newcastle’s iSISTAQUIT program. Associate Professor Gillian Gould is currently looking for delivery agencies to partner with iSISTAQUIT. Do you know any Aboriginal medical services providers, health services or GPs who might benefit from iSISTAQUIT’s online training webinars and patient resources? Interested parties can register their interest or find out more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In last month’s newsletter I mentioned World No Tobacco Day was coming up on 31 May and it would be worthwhile inviting your region’s politicians to the events you’re planning. Federal Parliament is sitting in Canberra on 1 June so it might be difficult for federal members to attend your scheduled events, but don’t let that stop you from extending an invitation. Letting them know about the important work you are doing in their community is more important than ever as the end of the current TIS contract gets closer. I’d take the approach of the more politicians the better when it comes to inviting local, state and commonwealth representatives to your events and filling them in on what we are achieving.
Finally, I just wanted to remind you all about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal I am currently co-chairing with Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO. This is an opportunity for you all to play a part in how the Indigenous Voice will provide advice and input on matters important to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. You can go to the Indigenous Voice
website to learn more about the process and also find some great explanatory videos featuring Marcia and myself and informative graphic content. We’ve been making our way around the country as part of the Indigenous Voice consultations and I invite everyone to come along and have a say. I’ve not yet seen any familiar TIS faces at the events we’ve held so far, so be sure to come up and say hi if you can make it to one of the upcoming dates. This week I’ll be in Canberra (30 March), next week I’m in Perth (6 April) and Bunbury (8 April) and there are plenty of additional dates still to come, so check the site
for details. I’d love to see you at one of these events to discuss this important opportunity and, time permitting, I will endeavour to meet with TIS teams.
Have a wonderful Easter and keep up the good work.