Monthly Message from the National Coordinator, Prof. Tom Calma AO
Where has the year and the decade gone? In a couple of weeks, we enter a new decade and one that will bring many more challenges and causes for celebration. So let me just focus a little on what we achieved this year and I will end with some of the key issues to challenge us in 2020.
Overall 2019 was a big and successful year. We are into our second of four years of funding for the TIS program. Our transition moving to a new contract and grant management arrangements is slowly bedding down so we can say the foundations are laid and we need to spend 2020 consolidating our effort to build on and refine past best practices.
We held two very successful national gatherings for the TIS teams and separately the CEOs and Chairs. Additionally, we held six jurisdictional workshops and all were well attended and it was so encouraging to observe the comradery that has developed between teams and the youth among our cohort. Our impact and success will only be enhanced if we foster teamwork and sharing best practice. I always feel pride when I see teams in your TIS branded clothing and the brilliant merch that you have developed.
As identified in other monthly messages I have visited a number of the teams and participated in community events and I will progressively do so, so don’t forget to keep me informed and invited to your events and if I can, I will visit.
Two significant events I participate in this year were the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in Calgary in September and Oceania Tobacco Control Conference in Sydney in October. Given that “cancers” are now the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, this makes our work so much more important, and timely. As you have heard me say before, there is roughly a 20+ year time lag between when a person stops smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke, before a cancer can/ might develop. Therefore, my friends, we must share with our target audiences the impacts of smoking and the strategies to QUIT, or not take it up in the first place.
So, let’s celebrate the headline good news from the latest Bureau of Statistics data released on smoking - 2018-19 NATSIHS smoking results and think on how we should or could respond to be more impactful in remote areas.
The positive highlights include:
- The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found that the national daily smoking rate (aged 15 and over) has decreased to 37 percent, down from 42 percent six years ago.
- Nationally, 85 percent of Indigenous people aged 15- to 17-years-old have never smoked. This is an increase from 77 percent six years ago.
- The proportion of people aged 18 years and over who smoked every day steadily decreased in non-remote areas over the last 14 years, from 49% in 2004–05 to 37% in 2018–19, while the proportion in remote areas did not change significantly.
The negative highlights include:
The proportion of people who smoked every day was:
- higher for people living in remote areas (49%) than in non-remote areas (35%), and
- The Northern Territory remains the worst performing jurisdiction, with the highest Indigenous daily smoking prevalence rate (50 percent of those 18 and over).
For further information, view the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19 – Smoking statistics.
An important element of our TIS programme is evaluation as it will inform and guide and influence the level of funding future TIS activity will attract and potentially where funds will be directed. Evaluation work also allows us to reflect on how we might improve outcomes from the TIS program.
- A reminder that Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA) have been contracted by the Department of Health to conduct part A of the evaluation of the 2018-19 to 2021-22 TIS program. As you’d be aware, it is a requirement that organisations funded through the TIS program participate in evaluation activities related to the program, and
- If CIRCA approaches your organisation requesting your participation, please respond as soon as possible so that evaluation approaches can be implemented and undertaken in a timely manner.
- Also, take the opportunity to remind your organisation’s management that the CIRCA Evaluation is an important component of the TIS program.
Finally, let me take the opportunity to say thank you for all of your efforts in 2019 as the work you do is saving lives and contributing to a better life for many of our daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunties and uncles and family and friends generally.
Have a relaxed and safe break and refresh for a big 2020. And remember, if you are a smoker, take the opportunity on 31 December to make a pledge for your future.
Have you or do you know someone who has completed the Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion at Uni of Sydney. The course is celebrating its 21st year anniversary and they are trying to track down graduates. I recall that in the early days of TIS a number of our colleagues attended the course. Just drop me an email?