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NBPU TIS Update: 6: 3

29 March 2021


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
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.
Rgs Tom


Western Australia's Bega Garnbirringu Health Services have successfully run the TIS program since 2011, with the team recently developing a colourful new anti-smoking booklet.

Until last year, the TIS team had more than 10 brochures and fact sheets in circulation. They found it expensive to print, update and keep a record of these individual resources. It was decided all the information should be presented in one booklet to increase efficiency of delivering these messages.

The team considered several elements while designing the booklet:
  • Use of simple and easy to read information
  • Use of pictures, infographics and photos for ease of understanding
  • Colours and Aboriginal artwork, which local people can connect with
  • A single resource with all necessary information: history, harms of smoking, ways of quitting and quit plan.
The TIS team created a draft copy and consulted with community members, key stakeholders and Bega management, editing until agreement on the booklet was reached. The booklet's design and printing were completed locally.

Bega has distributed more than 400 copies in the Goldfields region since unveiling the booklet last year. The team has received positive comments from community members, who particularly like the artwork and content of the booklet. The TIS team is planning to add more information on smoking and chronic conditions in the next version of the booklet.

Congratulations to Bega on this successful project! Be sure to send through information on your own project successes to for inclusion in an upcoming NBPU TIS newsletter.



This month NBPU TIS hosted a very successful online workshop for the 22 TIS teams who work with communities in remote and very remote Australia. Run over two days, the workshop provided an opportunity for teams working in these regions to network, share strategies and develop their knowledge of successful ways of working in remote and very remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The workshop opened with a keynote address from National Coordinator Professor Tom Calma AO, who highlighted the importance of expanding the program to cover more of remote Australia, whilst also acknowledging the great work already happening. Tom also reminded us of the program's principles of employing evidence-based, community-centered population health promotion activities. This included successful strengths-based approaches that educate people around the health benefits of smoke-free homes, as well as the financial savings of not smoking. 
Over the two days of the workshop, teams shared their wise practice approaches to developing partnerships, social media marketing, co-designing resources for TIS, working with pregnant women, and monitoring and evaluation in remote and very remote communities. We also heard from a number of experts including Dr Raglan Maddox of the Australian National University, who discussed the positive changes happening in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around tobacco control, and Professor David Thomas, who described the NT’s newly-developed Tobacco Control Guide for health services. Finally, the workshop also provided an opportunity to reflect on service delivery priorities for TIS in remote and very remote Australia.
Feedback on the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, particularly around the interactive approach taken and the sharing of stories. Participants also reported having gained new knowledge and ideas to use when designing and delivering TIS activities. We are currently working on a report which will bring together the learnings and resources shared during the workshop and look forward to sharing this with you all soon. NBPU TIS would like to thank all the presenters and TIS teams for their enthusiastic participation and valuable contributions which made this such a successful event.  
- Penney Upton, NBPU TIS Senior Researcher


The TIS team from Tasmania's Flinders Island Aboriginal Association Inc have followed up last year's inaugural Men's Mag digital publication with the first issue of their Women's Mag. This special edition features content covering local Tasmanian artists as well as exercise information and quit resources. You can check out this latest digital magazine by the FIAAI Tackling Indigenous Smoking team via their Facebook post here. Great work, FIAA! 


Due to the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, NBPU TIS has made the decision to host this year’s National CEO Workshop online. This decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health and the National Coordinator Professor Tom Calma AO. We believe it will prove the best option in light of the ongoing potential for state or territory travel restrictions to be imposed.
Placeholders have been sent to all required participants, with log-in details set to be provided ahead of the workshop on Tuesday 25 May between 11am and 2pm. 



In light of ongoing COVID-19 risks, the NBPU TIS team has received updated advice from the Medical and Scientific Advisory Unit in the Department of Health in relation to the use of Smokerlyzers. 
The Department has advised that the use of Smokerlyzers is supported where there is low COVID-19 prevalence in the community. However, adherence to local public health advice is recommended.

The Department also shared this PDF in relation to CO monitoring, noting that "While it is advice for CO testing in pregnancy, the infection prevention and control advice is applicable for all audiences". This PDF includes important information such as:
  • Highlighting the importance of screening questions prior to undertaking monitoring
  • Instructions on appropriate hand hygiene and maintaining physical distancing
  • Using monitors that contain appropriate filters to remove the majority of bacterial and viral pathogens.


The NBPU TIS is running a quick survey about the National TIS Workers Yarning Group and would like to get your feedback (even if you do not currently use it).
It has been one year since the Yarning Group launched and we would love to hear your thoughts so we can continue to improve the group and make sure it is meeting your needs. It would be great to hear from as many TIS workers as possible, so please don't feel like you have to limit your responses to one per organisation.
The survey is open now and closes at 5pm AWST on Friday 16th April. The survey should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete and your responses will be anonymous and treated confidentially.
You can take the survey here:


This month the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Technical Advisory Group (TIS TAG) met by videoconference for a quarterly meeting chaired by Prof Tom Calma AO. The Group discussed their priorities for action in tobacco control for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including:
• the increasing harmful use of vaping/e-cigarettes and the evolving evidence and policy response to this;
• integration with the development of a number of relevant national plans/strategies such as the National Preventative Health Strategy and the next National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan; and
• the need to continue to focus on the ‘big picture’ and keep ahead of trends in tobacco use.

The meeting was also briefed on the TIS program evaluations, specifically:
• the mid-term report of the process and program improvement evaluation being carried out by CIRCA; and
• ongoing findings from the TIS program impact and outcomes evaluation being carried out by the Australian National University and Menzies School of Health Research. Initial analysis suggests areas serviced by the TIS Grant Recipients show a number of significant benefits in relation to smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The meeting also discussed action in relation to TIS priority groups, specifically:
• work by Prof David Thomas with the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum (NTAHF) on developing a CQI guide for remote services; and
• ongoing work to engage Aboriginal community-controlled health services with the work of the iSISTAQUIT program.

A number of issues were identified for further focused discussion in the future, including vaping/e-cigarettes and input into national policy settings. The next Advisory Group meeting is expected to be held in June 2021. A link to the TIS TAG communique is available here.


We currently have a vacancy in the NBPU TIS team for a Remote Services Project Officer. The position plays a pivotal role in providing diverse administration and project support to the team.

The Remote Services Project Officer will report to the NBPU TIS Manager and provide diverse administration and project support. The position will be based out of the Northern Territory and is open to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants (as per section 8(1) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), and section 57 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1996 Northern Territory).

Find more details about the role on Seek here.


This month a new document has been added to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking website outlining what population health promotion is and how the principles can be incorporated into TIS activities. You can read more on the links below.  


Please note the following key dates:
  • 5 April - Easter Monday public holiday
  • 7 April - World Health Day
  • 26 April - Anzac Day public holiday (ACT, NT, Qld, SA, WA)
  • 25 May - National TIS CEOs Workshop 
  • 31 May - World No Tobacco Day

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