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  • Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples urged to Quit this NAIDOC Week

    06 July 2018

    Smoking is Australia’s leading preventable cause of death, while cancer remains the second leading cause of death amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This NAIDOC Week, Cancer Council SA is urging Aboriginal people to take action and quit to improve their own health outcomes.

    Smoking continues to be a key concern amongst Aboriginal peoples, with those aged 15 and over 3.25 times more likely to smoke than non-Aboriginal Australians in the same age bracket

    Cancer Council SA Coordinator of Aboriginal Programs, Mr Nathan Rigney says that Cancer Council SA is passionate about working with the Aboriginal community to support them to quit the habit.  

    “Here at Cancer Council SA, we run a number of programs specifically targeted to the Aboriginal community,” he said.

    “We employ an Aboriginal Quitline counsellor to support Aboriginal people to quit smoking and to provide ongoing support throughout their quitting experience”

    “We are also active in the community and over the course of many years, our Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Officers have partnered with a number of organisations to support local initiatives in regional and remote Aboriginal communities.”

    “Our Quitskills program remains one of the leading nationally recognised smoking cessation programs in the country, providing those in the health profession with the skills to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit the habit. Since the program started, we have trained more than 1,200 health professionals to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients through the program.”

    Bidjara woman Donna Fraser knows all too well the positive impact quitting smoking can have. She quit two years ago and said that it was the best decision she ever made.

    “I always knew I had to tackle my smoking habit. Once it began to seriously affect my health I knew that enough was enough. It took a few attempts and on my third attempt I was able to quit.”

    “The biggest obstacle for me was stress with cigarettes acting as my comforter, but subtle encouragement from my family really helped me.”

    “Heath really was the ultimate motivator for me – I knew that if I was able to look after myself I would be able to look after my family better.”

    “My message to others is that you never know how your actions might inspire those in your communities. Through watching you quit, someone in your community might be motivated to do the same. It’s never too late,” she said.   

    The daily smoking rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 and over in South Australia was 38.2% in 2014/15.

    According to Cancer Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost twice as likely to develop and/or die from lung cancer as non-Indigenous people.

    With NAIDOC Week running from 8 – 15 July, it’s a timely reminder of the health outcomes that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that it’s never too late to late to change your habits and improve your health. 

    “We recognise that there is still so much work to be done to help improve health outcomes in Aboriginal communities but we’re passionate about improving those statistics,” Mr Rigney said.

    “My message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is to reach out to us and get in touch. We’re here to help you, your family and your community quit and improve your health.”

    For more information about Cancer Council SA’s resources for Aboriginal Communities, visit: www.cancersa.org.au/get-informed/atsi.

    Cancer Council SA will have a stand as a part of the Adelaide City Council NAIDOC Week Celebrations on Tuesday, July 10 from 10.30am to 1.30pm.

    Editors Notes; Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

    • Cancer is the second leading cause of death amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, second only to cardiovascular disease
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than non-Aboriginal people
    • More than 5,900 Aboriginal  people are diagnosed with cancer each year
    • More than 2,500 Aboriginal people lose their lives to cancer every year

    Smoking remains a key concern amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with Aboriginal people 3.25 times more likely to use tobacco products than non-Aboriginal people.

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