East Pilbara Youth to Create Community Anti-Smoking Ads

Filmmakers will work with youth in four remote Aboriginal communities in the East Pilbara to shed light on the personal stories of local smokers and warn about the perils of the deadly habit.

Young people, assisted by a professional production team, will create a series of short films as part of the “you CAN quit” project, to document the stories of community members who have successfully kicked the habit and those who have been affected by smoking-related illnesses in Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji.

The project, organised by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking team, will be carried out with funding from a Healthway Indigenous Health Promotion grant and the Federal Government’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service regional tobacco coordinator Danika Tager said smoking rates in the East Pilbara were exceptionally high and more needed to be done to support communities to address tobacco addiction.

Statistics from the Federal Department of Health show that tobacco smoking is responsible for one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths, with the number substantially higher in remote areas.

“Smoking rates in remote East Pilbara communities are as high as 80% and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in this population,” Ms Tager said.

“Through this important film project we hope to encourage people in these communities to quit smoking, as well as air the many benefits of quitting and where they can find help and support.”

Filming of the four short films will start September 19. It is expected the films will be screened in each community on completion and also be aired on indigenous television stations and social media.

Ms Tager said the project was unique in that the films would be entirely community owned and directed, giving young people the opportunity to actively make a difference in their community.

“Youth will be responsible for all aspects of researching, shooting, editing and promoting the films” she said.

“All too often NGOs will come into a community with a health message that may or may not be relevant, and expect it to change people’s behaviour,” she said.

“What we are doing here is empowering the community to send its own messages and fight tobacco-related harm using its own experience and stories.”

The project will also involve a series of posters to celebrate non-smokers in the communities, and offer education sessions and details about the availability of support programs.

The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) is a community controlled health organisation that provides primary health care, 24-hour emergency services and preventative health and education programs in the communities of Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji.

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