THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Indigenous Health
8 December 2010
In Canberra today, Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, launched a new workforce featuring 82 new positions to help reduce smoking and help improve nutrition and physical activity in Indigenous communities across the country.
The new workforce has been rolled in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT since July. (See complete list attached).
The Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyle Workforce will grow as it’s rolled out nationally over three years, increasing from 82 positions in 20 regions to 340 positions in 57 regions.
Mr Snowdon met the new workforce in Canberra at the first national workshop for the participants and their host organisations.
He said the workforce is part of a $100.6 million Australian Government commitment over four years to Tackling Smoking through a National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
“The new Tackling Smoking Workforce has been created to put hundreds of health workers in areas where they are most needed––as a major step forward in tackling Indigenous smoking.
“The workforce will be led and mentored by the National Co-ordinator Dr Tom Calma, and operate in regional teams, which feature a tobacco coordinator and action worker, and two health lifestyle workers.
“The regional teams will be to raise awareness about the health impacts of tobacco smoking and chronic disease in Indigenous communities. They will actively promote positive lifestyle changes and it will help people to get timely access to health services.
“Wherever they are, the teams will facilitate culturally appropriate community education, health promotions, and social marketing activities to promote quitting. They’ll also encourage smoke-free environments and provide people with information about healthier lifestyles.
Mr Snowdon said a key part of this agreement is that any health service that is funded for these positions must become smoke free within a year.
“In addition, each region will receive $100,000 a year to develop localised campaign activities and health promotion events for their local area.
“We know that the daily smoking rate is alarmingly high, with almost one in two among Indigenous Australians––compared with one in six among Australians overall,” Mr Snowdon said.
“Smoking is the number one cause of chronic conditions and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease among Indigenous Australians,” Mr Snowdon said.
The new positions include 20 Regional Tobacco Coordinators, 21 Tobacco Action Workers and 41 Healthy lifestyle workers.
The initiative is being funded through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Chronic Disease Package. It is an important part of the Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
Editor’s note: Photographs are available.
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