Deadly Choices saving lives

Deadly Choices is one of the most visible signs of the work of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

Deadly Choices shirts, baby onesies, and posters adorn the walls of all IUIH clinics. The front windows are plastered with posters featuring Deadly Choices Ambassadors – Indigenous sports stars who promote the message of healthy choices.

And the Deadly Choices shirts can’t be purchased – they are only given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have had a health check at a clinic.

“When I see people walking around in a Deadly Choices shirt, I know that that person has had a health check,” Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, told the audience at the launch of the AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2018 recently.

The program uses the Aboriginal slang term “deadly”, which means “great”, to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make healthy choices for themselves and their families every day – to stop smoking, to eat good food, and to exercise daily.

It started in south-east Queensland in 2010 at four independent community controlled health services, and has since expanded to more than 35 primary health clinics.

Deadly Choices encourages Indigenous people to visit their local health service and complete a health check every nine to 12 months, to normalise the idea of seeing a doctor not just when sick, but to remain healthy and prevent or better manage chronic disease.

As an incentive, the shirts change annually, and can be branded with the name of an individual Ambassador, including rugby league legends Steve Renouf, Preston Campbell, Petero Civoniceva, and Scott Prince, Jillaroo Tallisha Harden, Olympic sprinter Patrick Johnson, and body builder Rhonda Purcell.

In 2017-18, almost 21,000 health checks were conducted, and more than 10,500 new patients were engaged, taking the total number to 35,020.

The Deadly Kindies program has also helped boost the number of Indigenous children attending kindergarten. Parents who take their child into their health service for a pre-kindy health check and enrol their child in kindergarten receive a free kindy kit – a backpack filled with kindy items like a lunchbox, blanket, and pillow case – worth about $75.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, was presented with his own personalised Deadly Choices shirt at the Report Card launch.

This article was originally published here, as an AMA media release.