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Update 26

10 November 2016

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


Hello colleagues
It’s been another busy month.  The National Best Practice Unit (NBPU) workshops have now been conducted in every state and territory.  These have been a valuable tool in bringing together our regional grant recipients, and I saw some great sharing of ideas and collaboration at these workshops.
As most of you will know, funding for the final 12 months (2017-2018) of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program is contingent on a mid-point evaluation. The preliminary findings of the evaluators will be provided to the Minister for Health by April 2017.  The Minister will then make a decision about the third year of funding for the program.  It is important to clarify that this decision will not depend on the performance of individual TIS grant recipient organisations as grant recipients are at different stages of maturity.  The evaluation will be looking at whether the TIS program, as a whole, is operating as expected.  This includes tracking grant recipients’ progress in achieving change within their communities, showcasing successes and examples of good practice, and exploring barriers to progress.  Smoking rates will not be a focus of the preliminary report, due to the lack of time since the program was redesigned in 2015 to achieve and measure significant declines.  This is why the five TIS performance indicators have been developed, to show how organisations are tracking towards reducing smoking (both cessation and non-take-up) within their local context.  Your reporting for these indicators is important and crucial, and you must immediately get support from the NBPU if you’re not sure how to report against the indicators.
The TIS program evaluators, the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA), have started consulting TIS grant recipients as part of the evaluation. This includes gathering information through online surveys, phone interviews, and more in-depth consultations through visiting a small number of TIS organisations.  CIRCA is also collating the TIS information from organisations’ progress reports (responses for the five TIS performance indicators).  I strongly encourage all of you to participate in the evaluation activities when contacted by CIRCA as your inputs will contribute to the mid-point evaluation.  As I’ve said above, the results will go to the Minister for Health and your contribution is very important. You can access the evaluation framework on the TIS Portal at:
The Advisory Group for the NBPU met on 18 October to discuss issues affecting the effectiveness of the NBPU over the short, medium and longer term and broader recommendations to support efforts to reduce tobacco smoking in Indigenous communities and by individuals. The meeting was very productive and a number of issues were identified. The group spent most of the day prioritising the most important issues, and identifying potential approaches to rectify or minimise the impact of these issues. I expect that a communique summarising the meeting and its outcomes will be sent out by the NBPU in a week or so.
Many of you may have seen the Tobacco indicators: measuring midpoint progress: reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018 report that was released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on 29 September 2016 (report available at  The way that the AIHW analysed the data - by comparing results for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and expressing change as a ratio - it concluded that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is widening against a number of the tobacco indicators.  Unfortunately I, and many others, felt that this did not paint an accurate picture of what is happening – we know that smoking rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are coming down and progress is being made. But as smoking rates for non-Indigenous Australians are also coming down, in practical terms, achieving a narrowing of the gap in rate ratios is virtually impossible.  My colleagues in Canberra have worked with the AIHW since they released the report to discuss this issue. Since then, the AIHW released an addendum to its report that also expresses the data as a rate difference.  The addendum notes that between baseline and midpoint, the daily smoking rate for Indigenous and non-Indigenous adults declined, and that the rate difference showed that the gap between the two groups had reduced slightly. Notwithstanding, the overall gap is not big but it is an indication that our target groups are responding positively to the challenge to give up or not take up smoking, which is encouraging.  We must keep up our efforts to guide the community and mobilise others to work with us to meet our objectives to address this insidious addiction.  

Community Visits

Deb Reichelt had a very productive visit to WA last week.  Catching up with the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and the Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service (WAHS) were just a couple of the organisations she visited.  

AHCWA has been very busy with a number of community education sessions, promotional events and establishing and maintaining the strong partnerships with other organisations. They’ve also launched a great social media campaign - ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’. Check out their Facebook page on

WAHS is currently recruiting in their team but still continue to run their 12week ‘No more Nyumree’ program which has been successfully operating for 5 years.  WAHS have a very strong advisory council that provides consistency, connection and support in their dealings with community.

The ‘No more nyumree’ program is a culturally appropriate support program to help Aboriginal people quit smoking. It is run by the Wheatbelt Aboriginal Health Service in Northam, Western Australia (WA). It provides free nicotine replacement therapy, as well as individual and group support. This program won the 2012 WA Alcohol and Other Drug award in the 'Aboriginal' category.

Left to right:  James, Leah, Tricia and Rickesha (AHCWA)  
and  Danielle (Pangula Mannumurna)

Elaine also had a great visit to Pangula Mannumurna at Mount Gambier where she met with Danielle Ashford from the TIS team to follow-up on activities from their Action Plan and generally discussed how well their activities are progressing.  It was also good to hear the TIS team there are finding the Portal a useful resource for their work. 

Kerry Chowis continues to work hard with all the NT organisations.  Nganampa (Pukatja) are currently developing local anti-smoking posters using role models from within the community e.g. footballers, softballers and other community members.  These will be used only for that specific community, where the role models are from. This will promote the message with local knowledge and people. 

Discussion with local senior men, who have given up smoking a number of years ago, has occurred and they have agreed to do interviews for the local radio stations.

Helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tackle smoking

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit from innovative projects to tackle smoking, through new grants awarded to seven organisations under the Australian Government’s $116.8 million Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

The seven organisations awarded funding through to 30 June 2018 under the Australian Government’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking Innovation Grants will develop new ways to reach these specific groups and change behaviours.”

Minister Wyatt said the projects will deliver intensive smoking prevention and cessation activities, and also deliver important research and evaluation outcomes.

Read the full statement and details of the recipients from The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.


Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal – Highlight on a resource

We’ve recently added a new resource to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal which we think you might find particularly relevant.

A lot of conversation at workshops was about smoke-free policies, and the difficulty of enforcing these at your workplaces. A new video has been produced by the Cancer Council Western Australia and King Edward Memorial Hospital, which aims to give you the skills and confidence to approach people who are smoking in smoke-free areas. You can access the 5-minute video here.

Despite being set in a hospital, the video is relevant to any organisation who would like to train their staff in enforcing their smoke-free policies in a non-confrontational manner.

The video could also be used as a template for TIS-funded organisations who might like to make something similar using local champions. If you produce anything please get in touch with us so we can add it to the TIS portal:

We’ve noticed there’s been lots of activity on the Yarning Places lately, which is fantastic. If you aren’t yet signed up, 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.

Webinar viewing

GR have been given access to webinars which have been held over the last few months hosted by the Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney. Please feel free to review the attached links.
October webinar – Smoking, Drug Metabolism and Interactions:
September webinar – Smoking Cessation Through Personal Identification:
August webinar – Tackling Smoking-making the evidence easily accessible:
Right click onto the links and they will open directly to the webinars.

Friendly reminder

Late last week GR's were sent an evaluation (via Survey Monkey) on how the NBPU TIS team are tracking.

As one of those organisations running TIS activities, we'd like to hear from you about how well you think we're doing, and how we can do better in the future. 

It is expected that Team Leaders will have gone through the survey with all TIS team members.

Surveys are due back by COB tomorrow. If you haven’t completed the survey by now, please take the time to do so today.   

Thank you to those who have already submitted their teams responses!

TIS Team Leader telelinks

Desley Thompson (NBPU TIS Manager) has instigated TIS Team Leaders meetings to offer support to Team Leaders and challenge some of the barriers that may be faced.  Topics of discussion will also include workforce development opportunities, new resources available, workshops and conferences, and generally sharing information amongst the teams.  These meetings will be for each jurisdiction via telelink with the hope to have a face-to-face workshop earlier in the new year.  


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