GOOLUM Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative has adopted a personal approach to tackle high smoking rates in Wimmera indigenous communities.
The organisation started targeted work last year through its Take the Pledge campaign, which encouraged people to sign a pledge to protect children from passive smoking.
The group has entered the second phase of the health promotion campaign, which included a community education session in Horsham on Thursday.
Goolum Goolum health promotion co-ordinator Dean O'Loughlin said Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s Louise Lyons and Alfred Health senior pharmacist Emma Dean spoke to Goolum Goolum staff and Wimmera residents about smoking, the health consequences, and how to access help.
“We are part of a consortia with the south-west, taking in Portland and Warrnambool areas and co-operatives there, and VACCHO supports us to tackle smoking, which is one of our health priorities,” he said.
“We are looking at innovative ways to engage the community in tackling smoking.
“Take the Pledge was in 2016, and this is phase two of that.
“We've engaged a consultant to build an IT platform – TRAX – so we can interact with the community through iPads and phones, and we will be putting stands in our medical centre, community centre and other places across Horsham where people can access the platform.
“It will allow people to access the work we’re doing, and we will be able to make referrals for them to our health service.”
Mr O’Loughlin said the co-operative’s work so far to tackle smoking rates had yielded pleasing results.
“Anecdotally we can say we're making a difference,” he said.
“We understand this is a highly addictive health issue, and that people who attempt to give up smoking are not always going to be successful.
“It’s a lonely journey for some to give when smoking has been their comfort drug.”
Mr O’Loughlin said the co-operative wanted to take a personal approach to helping people, by ensuring they had the means to access services and support that might not otherwise be available to them.
“We've had people in the community who have given up smoking, but we’ve also seen a rise in people just giving a red hot crack,” he said.
“We offer case management for people and referrals to higher-level services where needed too.
“At the session on Thursday we also gave out some samples for Nicotine replacement therapy, which can take the form of patches, chewies and sprays.
“Alfred Health are leaders in this subject, so it was great to have them there.”