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Update 27

25 November 2016

Monthly Message from the National Coordinator, Prof. Tom Calma AO

Hi Colleagues,

As we approach the Christmas break work does not seem to be slowing.  The past months have been full of activity for me and the Department of Health team as the reports are being reviewed and feedback provided.  You may have seen that I have been appointed Chair of the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity programme that will be hosted by the University of Melbourne - see here and here. Some of you might be interested in this programme when we advertise places in the new year.

This role took me to Oxford University in England earlier in the month and I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and one of the original members of the TIS programme, Dr Raglan Maddox.  Raglan is doing a post doctoral placement at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford Uni and he arranged for me to deliver a speech to the Unit on Cancers and smoking and Indigenous Australians that was well received. Charlie Perkins and Roberta Sykes Indigenous scholars attended the speech so it was good to catch up with our Indigenous brothers and sisters studying in the top university in the world. 

The other important news relates to the TIS Innovation Grant awards that were announced a week ago. While they have been well received there has been a concern raised about how they relate to the TIS activity you are doing. Firstly, the Innovation Grants are a component of the TIS programme and they are designed to be complementary to current activity and they are specifically targeted to pregnant mothers, youth and remote residing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The grants were advertised to the general public months ago and all submissions were assessed against publicly known criteria. There was no fixed number of projects but a fixed budget and projects were determined on merit.  The projects are all research based so that the outcomes will inform future TIS policy.

Key messages about the grants:

  • Innovation grants will be delivered in some regions with current TIS coverage, but should not be duplicating TIS activities.
  • Unlike the TIS regional grants, the innovation grants are not funded to service a specific region, and the grant holder is required to seek support from stakeholders on participating communities.
  • TIS regional grant recipients are expected to build relationships and coordinate activities with other services in their region, and to report on this in the IAHP progress reporting (performance indicator 2). Innovation grants projects would fit into this category.
  • The innovation grants and regional grants should work together to complement and create synergies for tobacco reduction in communities.

How are the TIS innovation grants different to the regional grants?

1. Innovation grants focus on a priority group (youth, pregnancy and/or remote populations)
  • The Innovation Grants are funded to deliver an intensive intervention for a specified target group (for example, a project focused only on smoke free households, or smoking cessation support in pregnancy).
  • In comparison, TIS regional grants are funded for a comprehensive range of activities for the entire population within a specific region (eg. school-based programs, smoke free areas and social media campaigns being coordinated by one organisation).  


2. Innovation grants deliver research and evaluation outcomes not required by regional grants·  
  • Innovation grants must undertake implementation research and evaluation activities to add to the evidence base for what works to reduce smoking in the target group/s.
  • The innovation grants must be delivered in partnership with a research institution (NHMRC Approved Administering Institution), and to implement a robust research methodology to measure the impact of the intervention by June 2018.
  • While TIS regional grant holders are required to evaluate their activities, this is not with the same level of rigour required of innovation grant holders.

3. Innovation grants are not funded for regional coverage

  • Many of the 7 innovation grant holders must undertake a process to identify communities where their project will be delivered, and to seek support from these communities.

I hope this clarifies any confusion and I would welcome any feedback on issues that may arise if an Innovation project is to take place within the region you service.

Next month I will talk a little about messaging we might give to clients to ensure their New Year pledges have a chance of success. I welcome any advice the old hands have on past successful “pledge” campaigns or impediments to success that you would to like share.  

Regards TOM

New content for the portal

Today we’d like to highlight some new content that we’ve added to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal.

In Tools and resources to monitor and evaluate your program we’ve added some new resources under the heading Survey question bank.

The section contains surveys for evaluating different aspects of TIS activities. The survey question bank covers five main areas which include:

  • media campaign awareness
  • questions for parents about no smoking policies in schools
  • questions for school children (attitudes, knowledge and behaviour)
  • smoke-free homes
  • smoking status, intention and attitude to quit.

We encourage you to get on the portal and check out the new resources.

Today we’d also like to highlight a feature of the Yarning Place that you can use to have a yarn with other organisations in real time. The Yarn now feature is similar to a chat room where two or more TIS members can join in 'live' discussions with one another. The feature can be accessed through the Yarning Place.

You can access the feature by clicking on the Yarn now button in the black menu up the top of the page. To enter a specific room for TIS workers, click the Browse yarn rooms and scroll down. You can see who else is in the room on the side menu to the right.
The Yarn now feature can be a good way to organise catch-ups with local groups – GRs can organise to meet in the TIS room at a specific time to have a yarn.

If you aren’t yet signed up to the TIS Yarning Place, you can do so here. If you have a topic that you’d like to discuss with other GRs, or have a question that needs answering then we’d encourage you to post it on the TIS Yarning Place. If you have any questions about using the Yarning Place, please get in touch with the TIS Yarning Place Coordinator, Millie, at

Community visits

During this fortnight, Elaine Treloar (Project Officer) was out and about in Adelaide where she met with the TIS Team at Nunkuwarrin Yunti. They had a great discussion around their Action Plan and how they’re achieving their activity goals.  Elaine received some very constructive feedback about the portal, specifically how the team has used some of the resources from the portal.  It was also good to hear that they have signed up for the Yarning Place too.

Have a look at the fantastic work happening from the Nunkuwarrin Yunti TIS Team via the website:

Left to right:  Ruth Wallace, Andrew Shultz, Luke McKenzie and Dean Hodgson

According to our records we have received 24 responses to the National Best Practice Unit Survey Monkey on how the Unit is supporting you.  We want to get a bit closer to 100% than this, so please complete the survey if you haven’t already done so.   Thanks!


TIS Team Leader telelinks


Desley Thompson (NBPU TIS Manager) and Project Officers at the NBPU have now had a couple TIS Team Leaders meetings which have proven to be very useful to all participants. 

The sharing of stories, information and resources along with the peer-to-peer support has been impressive.  It’s also been a great time for team leaders to think about their workforce and training needs, the workshops for next year and just generally how they’d like to see their team commencing the new year with a focus (with the NBPU assistance, where necessary).

Quitskills training

Smoking cessation training for tackling Indigenous smoking, Cancer Council SA, provide free smoking cessation training across Australia for those who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Trainings provide participants with the knowledge, skills and confidence to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to think about their smoking and make some changes. The following free trainings are available to those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • three-day competency based training
  • gain knowledge, skills and confidence in supporting clients’ smoking cessation
  • basic motivational interviewing skills
  • receive three units of competency and an academic transcript from TAFE SA

Quitskills training is being held in Perth at the Mental Health Commission. TIS team members attending are travelling far and wide from Newman, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, The Wheatbelt and Perth metro to undertake this fantastic training.

Quitskills is a nationally accredited smoking cessation course run over three days. If you’re interested in attending or running your own course in your State/Territory please contact

Welcome to new staff member at Miwatj

Everyone here at the NBPU would like to welcome Melanie Rärrtjiwuy Herdman to the TIS family.  Melanie, a local Yolŋu woman, will be the new Regional Tobacco Coordinator for the TIS program in Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.  Look forward to working with you and the team.

"Facebook could help lower Indigenous smoking rates", health researchers say

Indigenous people have the highest rates of smoking in the country, but researchers in the Top End believe Facebook could be the most effective way of helping them quit.

As reported the ABC
Aboriginal people living in remote communities smoke at three times the rate of other Australians, according to research fellow Marita Hefler from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.

Preliminary research into the role of Facebook in helping smokers to quit has found that although the living situations of Indigenous Australians differs widely across the Northern Territory, even those who lack food or clothing may still own a smartphone.
"We know that Aboriginal people use social media at very high rates; it's been taken up even in remote communities, particularly where people have limited communication through other means," Ms Hefler said.

Researchers believe Indigenous people use Facebook at higher rates than the overall population, making it one of the most effective ways to reach out.
"Facebook is a more effective way of reaching Indigenous Australians than traditional forms of communication; what we need to figure out is how to harness that message," Ms Hefler said.

Early findings show that when friends and family talk about quitting smoking on social media, it has a greater effect than traditional hardline anti-smoking ads.

"The people in your Facebook networks influence you the most," Ms Hefler said.

"In the past, anti-smoking advertising has relied heavily on having a captive audience; we know that smokers don't like the content they are seeing, but they can't get away. Now with the advent of Facebook, all you have to do is swipe and the message is gone."

Read the full articles are from Page 8 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download here.


NBPU TIS also has a Facebook page where TIS Teams can see what other great activities other Teams are  up too. Please like us here!

Aboriginal Community Researchers

The National Best Practice Unit has a strong commitment to employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Aboriginal Community Researchers, which opens the space for authentic engagement and a deeper understanding of location, traditional knowledge, languages and other dynamics that often inhibit research conducted by external people.  The National Best Practice Unit can co-ordinate Aboriginal Community Researchers to assist your organisation in gathering research and/or other critical information surrounding the Tackling Indigenous Smoking programme.  This service is at no cost to your organisation.  For more information regarding Aboriginal Community Researchers, please give Desley Thompson (NBPU TIS Manager) a call on (08) 824110430.

Ninti One Aboriginal Community Researchers collecting data

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