Tobacco Assault a ‘Deadly Choice’ for Yarrabah

Deadly Choices, Australia’s foremost preventative health and education program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, will conduct an all-out assault against tobacco consumption in the remote Far North Queensland community of Yarrabah, as it expands its activity footprint partnering with the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (Gurriny Yealamucka).


Education around the dangers of all forms of tobacco smoking and encouragement for those community members keen to quit, form the core cessation activities to be undertaken throughout Yarrabah, thanks to valued funding and support of the Federal Government’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Program.

All of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be the focus of a three-pronged Deadly Choices’ tobacco takedown, designed to help close the gap in health and life expectancy outcomes among Indigenous Australians.

Emphasising the commitment of the program in ensuring important preventative health messaging around tobacco use; Deadly Choices Ambassadors, rugby league legends Petero Civoniceva and Willie Tonga added their voice to the campaign as special guests at a Yarrabah Community Day hosted by Gurriny Yealamucka.  

“We welcome this joint TIS initiative between Deadly Choices and Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services which provides a program critical in our local community, where adult smoking rates are extraordinarily high,” confirmed Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services CEO Suzanne Andrews.

“We take a holistic approach to Indigenous health. Smoking cannot be viewed in isolation and treated separate to the other health and social stresses., but this program can, and will deliver lasting health benefits for more than 1500 adult smokers here in Yarrabah.

“Quitting smoking is harder in Yarrabah due to the incredible pressures of overcrowding and social disadvantage.

“This strategic partnership with Deadly Choices allows us access to a very successful program along with some incredibly inspirational Ambassadors who can help motivate our community in their quest to quit.

“This partnership with Deadly Choices highlights our ongoing commitment to closing the gap when it comes to health inequality. Lives will be changed as a result of this joint initiative; the end result will be a considerable saving on whole of life health costs as well as improved quality of living for our community members.

“It’s an ideal fit for our Public Health team to bring the TIS program to Yarrabah. We already have an incredibly successful RHD, Oral Health, Skin care and Sexual Health program here in Yarrabah. Tackling Indigenous Smoking will complement our Public Health initiatives along with the additional support that this joint venture with Deadly Choices brings to our health initiatives.”

The Deadly Choices – Gurriny Yealamucka campaign will seek to orchestrate healthier, happier Yarrabah communities, particularly shining a light on the widespread global health concerns of vaping among youth, while also targeting the incidence of tobacco smoking among pregnant mothers, plus those related tobacco concerns associated with living in remote communities.

“TIS funding allows Deadly Choices to propagate its preventative health messaging around the dangers of tobacco smoking, throughout Far North Queensland, including Yarrabah and Palm Island, through the Central and South-Western regions of the State, and from the North Coast all the way down to the border areas of the Gold and Tweed Coasts, Stanthorpe and Goondiwindi,” confirmed IUIH Director of Commercial Operations, Dallas Leon..

“We welcome the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services as a valued stakeholder in our collective fight against the inherent dangers of smoking and vaping among our people, particularly throughout remote regions of Queensland.

“The maintenance of a population health approach to the overarching Deadly Choices Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) strategy, will ensure we provide appropriate education and assistance to existing clients of Gurriny Yealamucka throughout Yarrabah, while also envisaging substantial growth as we instigate health messaging throughout the wider community.

“The reality is that preventative measures for our people requires a directive towards optimising overall health outcomes, so it’s always about making those deadly, healthy choices by staying away from tobacco products, eating good food, exercising regularly and instigating regular health checks at community-controlled health services.”

Deadly Choices, the highly successful preventative health program of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), has previously been acknowledged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its efforts in promoting the dangers of smoking among Indigenous communities and has at its disposal, an arsenal of health sector service provision experience to enhance protocols against smoking.

Longstanding relationships with TIS and Quitline, targeted junior and senior tobacco education programs delivered to Primary and Secondary-aged school children, plus close working arrangements with Queensland’s community-controlled health sector, ensures consistent opportunities to highlight the ongoing dangers of smoking and vaping to community members of all ages.

“On behalf of Tackling Indigenous Smoking and the National Best Practice Unit (NBPU) I want to convey our support of these planned Deadly Choices initiatives throughout Yarrabah with the valued support of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services,” added TIS National Coordinator, Professor Tom Calma AO.

“We’ve really got to ensure our Mob are aware that with vaping, there are the underlying health issues, economic issues due to the costs of devices and, as importantly, are the environmental impacts; stemming from the disposal of devices that are plastic, plus they contain button batteries that we know infants and young kids have swallowed in the past and have died from.

“So, this is a systems approach, a partnership approach with Deadly Choices, which we’ve already seen successes so far with smoking cessation. We’ve just got to do the same with vaping and are certain the three-way partnership with Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services can ensure positive outcomes into the future.

“Our major targets with this campaign over coming years will be our youth, women; particularly those who may be pregnant, where just like smoking, vaping can create potential harm for unborn babies; plus ensuring all residents have access to good information or have availability of service supports throughout Yarrabah.”

As part of this new and exciting initiative, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services has employed new staff as Deadly Choices Tobacco Education officers who will deliver a suite of informative programs into schools to highlight the dangers of tobacco products, while also conducting regular community engagement initiatives to assist people to quit smoking.

Health Checks

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website contains images of people who have passed away. With permission from their families, we have continued to use their images to acknowledge and honour their contributions in making our communities healthy and strong.

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