Putting out the fires

Program/Project Putting out the fires
Period/Length Two years
To reduce smoking prevalence in local Aboriginal communities by enabling more smokers to commit to taking small, practical steps towards quitting tobacco.
Year 2017-2019
Target Group NNSW local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities
Attendees of Koori Knockout (Between 3000 and 4000 Aboriginal people attended the 2017 Koori Knockout event and 4000-5000 attended the 2018 event)
Locations Across Northern NSW
Partners Aboriginal Health, Bullinah AMS Solid Mob, Northern United, NSW Cancer Institute
Funding NSW Cancer Institute
Contact Jillian.adams@health.nsw.gov.au
Resources Links to videos and graphic resources
More Information See below
Publications NA


What strategies were used?

Community conversations were conducted across 5 local government areas to identify the impacts of smoking on communities; what has been lost to community members as a result of smoking. Community identified young people and children as groups to be targeted.

Employing a Communications Agency, messages with meaning were developed for each community with the aim to improve local uptake of existing tobacco cessation services and to encourage access to Aboriginal Quitline and the iCanQuit website.

Local champions were engaged to deliver messages. Messages were pre tested in communities for relevance and further tested at a local Indigenous annual sporting event with the final versions widely distributed through social media, on sporting shirts, local buses, bus stop shelters and murals on the walls of culturally specific organisations. The Koori Knockout football tournament, which is the biggest Aboriginal community sporting event and gathering was used in 2017 for testing the concept and messages and in 2018 to disseminate all messages. Between 3000 and 4000 Aboriginal people attended the 2017 Koori Knockout event and 4000-5000 attended the 2018 event. Videos and images from this event were used on social media with both unpaid and boosted posts to further disseminate the tobacco control messages. Surveys and incentives on social media were used to boost interest in messages, as well as to direct viewers to evaluation surveys.

What were the program outcomes?

Summary of outcomes:

There was an overwhelming response to the idea of a women’s football competition with 8 teams participating in 2017 and 9 teams in 2018. Most teams had 10-15 players registered. In the 2017 and 2018 events, many community members stayed as their women’s teams were playing. Organisers estimated that the 2017 event was attended by about 3500 people and the 2018 event by about 4500.

A phone interview with 20 of the players in 4 teams was conducted in May 2019.

All respondents thought that linking sport with promoting health messages was good. Typical explanation as to why it was a good idea can be found in the following quotes: “Yes, it doesn’t sound boring, most people find it a boring subject, putting sport with it makes it exciting”. “Yes, a lot of girls are getting followers and they are voicing the messages they are promoting”.

Seven respondents said they knew of someone who has stopped smoking with two of them saying they have stopped, one saying she has reduced due to training and participation, one saying her mother and best friend have quit and another one saying her partner has quit.

When asked whether there is anything more we can do to make the smoking message stronger in communities, many said the Koori Knockout was a great idea, but some have added that it would be good to use messages and communication strategies relevant to local Aboriginal people and communities, as done in the event, in other events sporting codes or venues (i.e. using local dialect words for smoking terms, using images of local players). One respondent said: “Think you’re doing a pretty good job. I see signs from the knock out on the bus stops. Seeing people, you played with is great. Makes you feel part of change”. Another suggested: “A bit more in-depth, culture appropriate, it (main stream tobacco messages?) seems to be quite white predominant”.