Chronic diseases and associated risk factors are responsible for about two-thirds of the ‘Indigenous health gap’, with the biggest contributors to excess mortality being circulatory diseases, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Smoking alone accounts for around 20% of all Indigenous deaths.
The IUIH Preventative Health Business Unit is responsible for the developing and implementing strategies aimed at addressing the risk factors for chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within South East Queensland such as smoking, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.
The ‘Deadly Choices’ Program
The ‘Deadly Choices’ Program is an eight week health education and capacity development course aimed at supporting participants to be positive role models and mentors for their family, peer group and community in leading a healthy lifestyle.
The program comprises eight modules:
- Chronic Disease
- Physical Activity
- Substance Misuse
- Smoking Cessation
- Sexual Health
- Importance of accessing local primary health
- care service
Deadly Choices has been implemented in four schools within South East Queensland, including the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre. The Program has at mid-2011 reached over 130 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged between 15 – 18 years of age and been incorporated into the curriculum of two schools. In 2011/2012 the Program will be extended to an additional five schools.
The Deadly Choices Program has also been adapted for use with other community groups, including Men’s and Women’s Groups.
The ‘Deadly Choices’ Campaign
The IUIH ‘Deadly Choices Campaign’ features leading Indigenous players and legends from the National Rugby League (NRL), including Sam Thaiday and Preston Campbell. The campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within South East Queensland to make ‘Deadly Choices’ (‘Healthy Choices ARE Deadly Choices’) regarding their health and lifestyle and join the ‘Deadly Choices Team in tackling Indigenous Chronic Disease’.
A number of prominent local Indigenous community identities are also featured in the campaign. ‘Deadly Choices’ also encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within SEQ to access their local Community Controlled Health Service for a ‘Health Check’.
The Deadly Choices Campaign includes a specific strategy targeting smoking within Indigenous communities, particularly young people and pregnant mothers. Rather than focusing solely on the dangers of smoking (and other risk factors for chronic disease), the campaign focuses on the positives of NOT smoking and living a healthy lifestyle.
Sporting events and ‘Healthy Family Fun Days’ are also utilised by the Preventative Health Team as vehicles through which healthy lifestyle messages can be promoted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout South East Queensland.
These events help to demonstrate and reinforce to communities the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and accessing their local Community Controlled Health Service.
The Healthy Lifestyle team with Mr Tom Calma, National Tobacco Coordinator
and Co Chair of the Close the Gap Steering Committee.