Feet First – Aboriginal Tobacco Control Project

Aboriginal Tobacco Control Project

 Thoolngoonj Bowirn

– Gija for ‘without smoking’


Mid-stage in a two-year project

Target group
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Warmun, a community of approximately 450 people, is located approximately 180 kms southwest of Kununurra and 160 kms northeast of Halls Creek. The goal of Feet First is to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in Warmun by:

  • Establishing tobacco control and other relevant health infrastructure in the community by identifying what is currently there and what should be there.
  • Developing community-based tobacco control and quit strategies tailored to and informed by the community.
  • Coordinating, collaborating, sourcing, building links, working with the community to address tobacco control and other relevant social/health issues impacting on the community’s health.
  • Making tobacco control an ongoing priority in the community.
  • Assisting the community to implement sustainable tobacco control and quit strategies.

Community consultation

The premise of Feet First is that every community requires its own strategy to tackle smoking. Feet First established the situational analysis, including determining existing and potential on-the-ground tobacco control initiatives, issues and attitudes by identifying and liaising with community leaders and people involved with existing tobacco control/health infrastructure.

We travelled to and worked with the community to develop tobacco control and quit strategies tailored to and informed by the community. We promoted understanding and cooperation between the community, tobacco control advocates, health workers and other agencies.

We identified and brought together the various partners, including potential funding sources and resources, to assist the community in implementing the tobacco control initiatives. This is a bottom-up approach with the community heavily involved in planning and implementation. We worked closely with the community, responded to needs and evaluated impact.

Following up

Twice yearly, a team is assembled to visit and address community identified needs and progress community identified initiatives, evolving aspects of the program upon each visit.

The team consists of representatives from ACOSH, Cancer Council WA, the Public Health Advocacy Institute WA, Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, Schools Drug Education Road Aware and Regional Tackling Smoking officers from Wyndham and Kununurra. Each member contributes in their specialty area including education, group work, advocacy, community meetings, school projects, public health initiatives and smoking cessation counselling.

Impact and outcomes

The most vulnerable in the community are now better informed and better protected from the dangers of smoking. Engaging local youth in tobacco control education and raising awareness with new and expecting mothers resulted in the following:

  • Implementing smoke free areas in the community, as advised by the Community Council.
  • 30 community youth painted and used ‘no smoking’ signs in their homes.
  • Health impacts and economic cost of cigarettes conveyed to children, youth and mothers.

New smoke free zones

Based on feedback and recommendations from the children and youth, and supported by the community through the Manager of Gija Health, the Council agreed to make four areas of the community smoke free: the basketball courts, the school grounds, the new recreation centre, and a buffer zone in front of the community store.

The community has a raised level of awareness around tobacco, resulting in more smoke free homes; a number of residents who have accessed quit services; and heightened awareness by community leaders of the issues around tobacco and the harm caused by tobacco in the community. This has created an increased desire to develop and implement tobacco control and quit strategies.

  • Health staff and youth workers have been trained in brief intervention, smoking cessation, drug awareness and spirometry testing.
  • Tobacco control and health workers have been introduced to the community and to one another.
  • Tobacco control is becoming a priority in the community.

For more information about the Feet First Aboriginal tobacco control project contact Dora Oliva, Executive Director at ACOSH on 08 6365 5438 or doliva@acosh.org.