Beyond the Big Smoke was initiated by AHCWA within the member Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHs) to reduce smoking in Aboriginal communities.
The program developed from a consortium led by AHCWA and included KAMSC, UWA, Curtin and Murdoch Universities, the heart foundation and the Cancer Council, and is jointly funded through the Australian Respiratory Council and Healthways.


A range of strategies are being implemented to have a positive impact on smoking behaviour among staff and user populations of ACCHSs. Through use of brief intervention methods, and implementation of smoke free policies, community level facilitators (champions of tobacco control) are being resourced to support members of the community and ACCHS staff members who wish to stop smoking and to reduce environmental tobacco smoke in homes, vehicles and workplaces (passive smoking). It will also raise awareness of the impact of smoking on the community, and health benefits associated with stopping smoking.

This year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between AHCWA and KAMSC was developed to formally recognise the partnerships and agreements in delivering the Beyond the Big Smoke Project. Additionally, a Project Partners coordinating team was established, and approval was received from the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Information and Ethics Committee (WAAHIEC) to commence the research component of project.

Through Communicare Systems Pty Ltd, a data extraction tool specific to Beyond the Big Smoke project was developed for precise analysis purposes. Development of Environmental Scan and Knowledge Attitude and Practices (KAPS) documents has now started. This involves data collection at most AACHs, which has worked well in the element of personal contact with survey participants, and in some cases has led to brief intervention taking place in the course of data collection. One on one contact has gleaned a myriad of anecdotal information that has fostered further research ideas.

The inaugural annual Tobacco Summit was held in Perth in July 2008, with over 200 delegates, presenters, community and professional representatives attending. Topics included: Improving Health Outcomes for Aboriginal Health Research; The Evidence Base; Building More Evidence; AHCWA’s Partnerships in Tobacco Control Activities; and Time for Aboriginal Action on Tobacco Control.

Project officer training continued, as well as representation on several relevant committees and focus groups. The next 12 months will see increased data collection, and analysis and evaluation of data (with view to publication). A comparison of Tobacco Control Policies within ACCHs will see a best practice model workshopped for comment with a view to uniform implementation. Further training sessions will be rolled out to community groups, support groups will be established in communities, and a further Tobacco Summit will be delivered in 2009.