For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death, and responsible for around one in five deaths. More national statistics.
The Australian Government has delivered a targeted program to reduce Indigenous smoking rates (Tackling Indigenous Smoking) with regional grants since 2010. It has also supported the important complementary role of primary health care services in the delivery of brief interventions, and developed nationwide media campaigns targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as part of the National Tobacco Campaign, including Break the Chain television, radio, digital and print advertising, the More Targeted Approach, Quit for You, Quit for Two targeting pregnant women and Don’t Make Smokes Your Story.
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that all actions taken to address high rates of smoking are based on available evidence and delivered in the most appropriate, effective and efficient way. To support this, a review of Tackling Indigenous Smoking was commissioned by the Department of Health. The review was undertaken by the University of Canberra in 2014 and included stakeholder input in various forms.
Informed by the review, the revised TIS programme with a budget of $116.8 million over 3 years ($35.3 million in 2015-16; $37.5 million in 2016-17 and $44 million in 2017-18) was announced by the Government, on 29 May 2015.
The programme consists of the following components:
- Regional tobacco control grants to support multi-level approaches to tobacco control that are locally designed and delivered to prevent the uptake of smoking and support smoking cessation among Indigenous Australians, Funding for the new grants commenced from 1 January 2016;
- A National Best Practice Unit (NBPU) to support regional tobacco control grant recipients through evidence-based resource sharing, information dissemination, advice and mentoring, workforce development, and monitoring and evaluation, with support and leadership provided by the National Coordinator - Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Professor Tom Calma AO. The NBPU was sourced through an open tender process with a consortium led by Ninti One and including the University of Canberra, University of Sydney and Edith Cowan University is operating the NBPU;
- Enhancements to existing Quitline services and provision of frontline community and health worker brief intervention training;
- Program Evaluation and Monitoring which includes the design of an evaluation and monitoring framework to be used for the development of local and national performance indicators for grant reporting and to guide overall programme evaluation. The Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre (CIRCA) has been contracted to develop the Programme Evaluation and Monitoring Framework and undertake the evaluation of the TIS program as a whole; and
- Innovation grants in remote and very remote areas which have high smoking rates and within specific groups such as pregnant women and young people susceptible to taking up smoking, for commencement in mid-2016.
In addition to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program, the Australian Government provided $10 million for an Indigenous specific campaign for the National Tobacco Campaign 2016, which commenced on 1 May 2016 across various media. The campaign, “Don’t Make Smokes Your Story” aims to increase sustained efforts to quit smoking and to reduce smoking uptake, targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by highlighting the risks associated with smoking and avenues of support within a cultural context.