Interim results from a tobacco control partnership between three NSW Aboriginal community controlled health organisations and two local health districts (LHDs) have shown promising results in both quit rates and community awareness of quitting smoking.
The Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern, Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group have joined forces with South Western Sydney and Sydney LHDs to develop a community-driven and culturally aware tobacco intervention.
The project partners used evidence from mainstream tobacco control, as well as recommendations from key Aboriginal reports and local consultations, to create a culturally appropriate project to reduce smoking prevalence.
The Aboriginal Tobacco Control Project strategies included three phases of advertising, culturally appropriate and localised marketing resources, a website and Facebook page, promotion and community events, a community grants program, quit groups, and training and support for health service staff to implement tobacco cessation brief advice.
The project partners each contributed extensive resources and in-kind support including: recruitment of community members for focus groups; identification of and approval for local ‘talent’ to appear in advertisements; an in-house graphic designer to create advertising artwork; and support for the community grants program and grant recipients.
The project is being monitored using a time sequence methodology − via pre-, two mid- and post-intervention surveys conducted by the Aboriginal health services, with questions on smoking prevalence, smoke-free homes, knowledge and attitudes, intention to quit and preferred methods of quitting.
A project baseline survey of 685 people in 2010−11 found that 70.4% lived in a smoke-free home, 48.4% smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally, and 71.5% of current or occasional smokers reported seriously considering quitting within 6 months. Mid-term follow up indicated that people made quit attempts, and also growing awareness of the campaign. At the first follow up in early 2012, 38% (427) of respondents recalled the project and at the second follow up 52% (427) recalled the project.
There were 109 people recruited to a quit group – 35 (32.1%) male and 74 (67.9%) female. Sixty-five participants completed a follow-up survey at four weeks, 45 at 3 months and 43 at 6 months.
At baseline, 89% of quit group participants stated that they smoked daily, decreasing to 66.2% at 4 weeks and 62% after 3 months. At 6 months it was 67.4%
Following the success of the initial project, the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern and Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation now deliver their own quit group programs. The response to the project’s advertising was also positive, with community surveys finding that respondents took notice of “our people” and were happy to see local faces on local billboards, bus shelters and in Tracker magazine.
Director of Health Promotion at South Western Sydney LHD, Mandy Williams, said the project had sparked a high level of community interest and engagement, which highlighted the importance of working alongside Aboriginal services and involving community members.
“The project has facilitated positive and ongoing working relationships between services,” she said. “The partners are keen to keep working together on issues affecting the health of Aboriginal people.”
Further analysis and evaluation would be undertaken to identify future work in this area, in consultation with the community services, agencies and staff.
Darryl Wright, CEO of Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation said “We are a growing Aboriginal organisation and this project is one of many that we are a part of and it’s been going for a few years now. The partnership with AMS Redfern, Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group and the two local health districts, we’re proud we are a part of it because it’s been doing some wonderful stuff in terms of tobacco smoking and we have had a lot of great advertisements on the buses, on the bus shelters.
“It’s educated the local community and it’s now starting to have an effect on smoking and the damage it does. The community all know, sorry brother, sorry sister, you can’t smoke here, you have to smoke outside. It makes me feel good that the message is getting talked about and people are not afraid to say to ‘hey you can’t smoke here’.”