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Throughout this eBulletin we use the term Aboriginal Western Australians to include also people of Torres Strait Islander descent.
Welcome to the second edition of 'Let's Talk' for 2016!
'Let's Talk' is published quarterly to keep Aboriginal health professionals and those working with Aboriginal communities (proudly leading the way to a cancer-free future) up-to-date with Aboriginal cancer education and research programs in WA, Aboriginal cancer events, cancer issues, trends and cancer support services available.
Working together message from the Make Smoking History team
Let’s work together to reduce smoking in the community

Tobacco-related health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people start at birth and continue throughout their lives. However, we know this does not need to be the case. Reducing the rates of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy, reducing the number of children being exposed to passive smoke in their homes and community, and of course, reducing the overall rate of Aboriginal people who smoke tobacco will have a significant effect in reducing the health equity gap. This is what we need to do, and can achieve. 

A lot of great work has already been achieved to date, especially by the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program. Progress made is due to the passionate people around Australia who are committed to reducing tobacco use among Aboriginal people. The most recent research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that daily smoking rates among Aboriginal people over 18 years of age in Western Australia is 44.5%. This is way too large in comparison to the 13.9% daily smoking rates among non-Aboriginal people. This shows that there is still more work to be done and no one organisation or person can achieve this alone. Organisations, health workers, communities and individuals need to work together to ensure people are being offered adequate support to quit, and can access quit smoking services and information. 
Together, we can:
  • Reduce rates of cancer and other tobacco related diseases among Aboriginal people
  • Reduce Aboriginal children’s exposure to tobacco to improve overall health
  • Reduce smoking rates among pregnant women.
Since June 2014 the Make Smoking History team has increasingly become more focused on reducing tobacco-related health inequalities in all of our work. Make Smoking History is a comprehensive program utilising various strategies that are best practice in tobacco control, including:
  • Mass media campaigns
  • Federal, state and local advocacy
  • Policy development
  • Capacity building and professional development
  • Research and evaluation.
If you and your organisation are already working to reduce the high rates of tobacco use among Aboriginal people throughout WA, then the Make Smoking History team welcome the opportunity to work with you.

How we can work together:
  • Help connect us to people who have quit smoking and would like to share their story throughout WA. Their story may motivate someone else to quit.
  • Let us know if you are working on any interesting projects that we can promote or support in any way.
  • Follow us and share our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. We are happy to do the same for you.
  • Talk to smokers that access your services about quitting, give them resources and refer them to services where they can get assistance to quit. Just having a yarn can mean the difference between someone trying to quit and not. Visit our website for tips and referral points.
  • Connect with our regional education officers who are able to provide on the ground support in your region.
For more information or to enquire about how we can work together please contact us on or phone (08) 9388 4368.

Our Make Smoking History team
Left to right: Emily Box, Lorena Chapman, Libby Jardine, Sarah Beasley, Doris Neuwerth, Severine Koch (now living in Germany), James Stevens-Cutler, Deb Rimmer and Fiona Phillips. Absent: Kelly Kennington. Since this photo was taken Vanessa Allom has now joined the team.
New Kimberly Regional Education Officer
Welcome, Liz!

We'd like to introduce Liz Bakowski, CCWA's new Kimberley Region Education Officer (REO). Liz’s role aims to increase knowledge in cancer prevention and early detection, including women’s, men’s, bowel (colorectal), skin, alcohol and smoking related cancers. Liz will be collaborating with other agencies to promote healthy lifestyle choices and improve cancer through changes in policy and practice. Liz also delivers education sessions in a range of community settings including schools and workplaces.

Liz is also the newest member of our Aboriginal Reference Group. She will help the group develop and implement our Reconciliation Action Plan and action it at a local level. 

If you'd like to develop healthier policies and practices for your community group, workplace or school, or are interested in developing an education session on prevention or early detection in your community, please contact Liz Bakowski on 08 9192 9770 or
New anti-smoking campaign aims to Close the Gap
The Coalition Government has launched the latest phase of the National Tobacco Campaign, Don’t Make Smokes Your Story. Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash said the featured new advertising materials focus on the values within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, such as the health and wellbeing of their families. “It is estimated that smoking accounts for one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and about one-third of their burden from cancers and cardiovascular disease. That’s why we have created a powerful and targeted campaign to support our First Australians to quit, stay quit, and never to start smoking."

The Australian Government has invested $10 million for the campaign, in addition to the $116.8 million for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program. Approximately 39 per cent of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over are daily smokers. The Australian Government has committed to halving the 2008 smoking rate of 47 per cent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2018. “A smoker’s health will improve gradually after quitting and mortality is about the same as a non-smoker if quitting is achieved by the age of 45,” Minister Nash said. Don’t Make Smokes Your Story will be rolled out nationally across television, print, radio, outdoors and online. National Tobacco Campaign materials and information on how to quit smoking are available at

Additional support to quit smoking is available by downloading the free My QuitBuddy mobile app or calling the Quitline on 13 7848.
Cancer support groups
Support through a shared experience

CCWA offers a variety of support programs that aim to enhance the quality of life for people affected by cancer.

One support option available is to be part of a cancer support group. Cancer support groups offer a place to share experiences and talk with other people who are going through a similar situation. CCWA offers support groups in regional areas, which are facilitated by a CCWA Regional Cancer Support Coordinator. If you know someone who could benefit from this support, they (or you) can find out more by calling the cancer nurses on CCWA’s information line -13 11 20. 

CCWA also supports other organisations, community groups and individuals to deliver cancer support groups by offering free cancer support group facilitator training. This training is called Keeping Things on Track and is delivered over two days, facilitated by a psychologist with extensive experience in group work. The training covers how to deliver a best practice cancer support group and includes, group agreements, facilitating conversations, difficult conversations and controversial topics.

If you are interested in starting a cancer support group or want to find out more about the free cancer support group facilitator training please call Melissa Pickering, Cancer Support Group Coordinator at CCWA on 9382 9328 or at .
Cancer Council WA Aboriginal Cancer program and Palliative Care Education on the world stage
Louise De Busch (left), Aboriginal Projects Officer; Alicia King, PEPA Aboriginal Project Officer; and Brooke Wilkinson, PEPA Coordinator attended and gave presentations at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference 2016 in April.

Louise presented on the Development and evaluation of a cancer education course for Aboriginal health professionals.’ The evaluation of CCWA’s cancer education course (delivered from 2008 to 2015), showed that whilst confidence levels of Aboriginal health professionals declined after 12-18 months post completion of the course, knowledge around cancer control exceeded expectations.  Overall the evaluation highlighted the need to review strategies to better support Aboriginal health professionals to deliver cancer education when they return to their communities. It was also an opportunity to promote one of Alicia King’s projects, which involves producing a suite of cancer prevention videos designed for Aboriginal health professionals and communities.

Alicia King and Brooke Wilkinson presented on ’Increasing understanding of palliative care in Aboriginal health workers - The PEPA WA story.’ PEPA focuses on providing skills to Aboriginal health professionals to aid in their understanding of the palliative approach and to increase their skills and confidence when working with a patient who has a life-limiting illness. They reported on these workshops and explained that Aboriginal health workers need to be involved in the clients palliative care journey, as they are key to building a trusting relationship between the patient, family and health services, by bridging the language barriers and making sure the patients really understand their illness. 

In addition to presenting, they also heard from high quality speakers listed here. This included hearing from Mr Archie Roach.  Archie Roach and Louis Irving (his medical physician) engaged in a patient and doctor conversation around his lung cancer journey. Archie was instrumental in sharing his story in the Let’s yarn about lung cancer resource.

The take home messages from the conference were:

  • “How are health stakeholders putting the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework into practice?It’s a shared responsibility!” Professor Helen Zorbas.
  • “Indigenous health leaders play a critical role in improving health outcomes”. Mr Romlie Mokak.
  • “We need to establish international Indigenous cancer networks representative of each nation to better support local/state-wide Indigenous cancer networks” Associate Professor Gail Garvey.

For more information about the conference or presentations please click here.

Jeff the Diseased Lung makes a splash at the Moorditj Moort Festival 2016
In March, members of the Make Smoking History team were delighted to support CCWA’s Aboriginal Projects Officer, Louise De Busch, at the Moorditj Moort Close the Gap Day Festival 2016 at Wellington Square in Perth. The event was an opportunity to connect with organisations working in the areas of Aboriginal health and tobacco control, and a chance to facilitate some face-to-face discussions with members of the Perth Aboriginal community about the harms of smoking.

As you can see from the photos, Jeff the Diseased Lung was more than happy to give people at the festival a first-hand look at the dangers of tobacco smoke, including chatting with some of the local Aboriginal people sitting on the fringes of Wellington Square.

Women’s Business Workshop – Community Education Resource
The Women’s Business Workshop, Community Education Resource was released by Cancer Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers (and other health professionals).  This will help health professionals conduct a women’s business workshop specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Indigenous women are also 70% more likely to be diagnosed with gynaecological cancers than non-Indigenous women.

Because of this, the workshop focuses on importance of awareness and early detection of breast and gynaecological cancers. This is done using a story telling face-to-face approach.

Through increased awareness and earlier detection, the program aims to reduce the inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women.

For more information about this resource or to access it please visit Cancer Australia.
The 10th Cancer Education Course for Aboriginal health professionals done and dusted!
We had the pleasure of bringing together 11 participants from metropolitan and regional areas including Fitzroy Crossing, Derby Broome, Geraldton and Moora for the 10th Cancer Education Course for Aboriginal health professionals. 

This has been our 8th year bringing WA Aboriginal health professionals together to gain more in-depth knowledge around cancer education.
Picture (top): What is cancer and how it is treated session delivered by Steve Pratt, Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager. Picture (bottom): Foodbank Cooking Workshop and lunch delivered by Vanessa Bobongie and Lucy Butcher.
The group learnt about what cancer is, causes, incidence, mortality, prevention, screening, early detection, treatments and support, including resources. Over the duration of the course a few sessions were held in Theatre Park, Subiaco, and there was a tour of the Gastroenterology/Colonoscopy, Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy services. Participants also heard from Cancer Nurse Coordinators and Louise Good, our Regional Support Services Manager, about linking services between the bush and city and the importance of our Regional Support Coordinators – all crucial to their current roles back home.

The participants really enjoyed the interaction of the presentations, the out-in-the-open sessions and the luncheon with CCWA staff at the end of the week.

Picture at Crawford Lodge: From left to right (back row) Helen Clements (Derby), Cherrie Barron (Moora), Mellanie Jan (Fitzroy Crossing), Hayati Jaffrey (Fremantle), Sonia Chadd (Moora). (Front row) Robyn Willock, Rosalie Jones, Ross Oakley and Robin Kelly (Geraldton) and Gaye Yu (Derby).
A thank you letter from Pearl
Previous attendee of the Aboriginal Health Professional Course
We'd like to introduce Pearl Draper, from Southern Agcare Inc. in the Broomehill-Tambellup area in WA.

Pearl is a Family Counsellor for Southern Agcare, a mobile counselling service in the Great Southern region of WA. Along with three other counsellors, Pearl works to cover 15 shires in the region from Mt Barker to Lake Grace. Both Pearl and her sister Sally are Indigenous counsellors in the area.

“My sister, Sally Dickinson and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Aboriginal health professionals training at CCWA in June 2015.”

“The course was such a wonderful learning opportunity. We listened to some inspirational speakers, enjoyed learning activities and had some fun. We were able to dispel some myths about cancer, and it was reassuring to learn that many cancers can be prevented with healthy life-style changes. We also learnt about the different types of cancer, and the best treatment for each type.”

“It was interesting to learn about the different screening tests too. We witnessed a colonoscopy at Royal Perth Hospital. Sincere thanks to the patients who had given us permission to watch these procedures.”

“It was interesting to learn about the research that is being done, especially in the area of immunotherapy, by using the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. Mr Terry Slevin gave us an inspirational talk about the current research, especially in this area.”

Sally and Pearl have worked, and continue to work with cancer patients. Pearl believes the training and knowledge she received from this course has helped both herself and her sister feel more confident in their work.

“Our mother, a wonderful Balladong lady told us that the key to a better life for our people was education. Education opportunities such as this are wonderful.”

“We were provided with excellent accommodation, and every need was met from food to travel. Special thanks to Louise for all her hard work and organisation. We would like to sincerely thank CCWA for making this training possible. We were looked after so well, and this was such a unique learning opportunity for us. A sincere thank you to everyone involved in this workshop.”

Pearl had breast cancer in 2006, and she is pleased to report that she is cancer free. “I received the best treatment that was available thanks to the wonderful work done by CCWA.”

Thank you so much,
Pearl Draper

If you are interested in more information about Pearl’s role, you can contact Pearl on 08 9824 1036.

Next edition will feature an Aboriginal health worker profile story with Hayati Jaffrey from Black Swan Health.

 If you would like to submit a profile for this section of the eBulletin, please refer to our Contribution Guidelines.
Events and courses
International Indigenous Health and Allied Health Conferences 

1-3 December
Cairns, Queensland
Indigenous Conference Services is proud to simultaneously host two great events: the International Indigenous Health Conference and the International Indigenous Allied Health Conference. An opportunity to attend two conferences with one registration! To register, please visit the conference website at or send an email to

The Australian Health Promotion Pre-Conference Indigenous Workshop

10am – 3pm, 19 June
Rendezvous Hotel, Perth, Western Australia
Are you passionate about improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and want to connect with others who share this passion from around Australia and overseas?

Connect, share your issues, and work with others to identify opportunities for solutions at the 2016 AHPA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-conference workshop. For more information please visit the conference website

Free Palliative Care Education Workshop
Do you care for people who have a chronic or advanced illness and are unlikely to get better? The Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (PEPA) is offering free palliative care workshops for Aboriginal health professionals around the state.

The practical workshops discuss the palliative approach, holistic end of life care path, and supportive care for individuals and families dealing with chronic or advanced illness. Topics covered include communication, symptom management and advanced care planning.

Upcoming workshops:
  • 6 July, Perth
  • 11 October, Roebourne
  • 22 November, Northam
For further information visit the website, or contact Alicia King on (08) 9382 9335 or
PEPA Placements
PEPA also offers two day placements in a specialist palliative care setting. This opportunity enables you to gain skills and confidence in working with people who have a chronic or advanced illness. Placements can be planned at any time of the year in metropolitan or rural areas at no cost.

For further information visit the website, or contact Alicia King on (08) 9382 9335 or
Submit an article
We invite past course participants of the Cancer Council WA Aboriginal Cancer Education Course and health services/organisation/departments working with Aboriginal Western Australians to submit contributions for publication in this bulletin.  Articles and events that pertain to cancer control and support are most welcome.

If anyone would like to submit an article for the next bulletin, please refer to our
Contribution Guidelines and email by Friday 22 July 2016.
We would like to acknowledge and say thank you to Sharnae Zanotti our Cancer Smart, Education and Research Intern who contributed and worked tirelessly on the publication of this edition.
Email us
Our next edition is due in September 2016!

Cancer Council Western Australia acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Western Australia and pay our respect to them, their culture and their Elders past and present.

Copyright © 2016 Cancer Council Western Australia, All rights reserved.

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