New Aboriginal health campaign embraces film and social media to break the smoking cycle


In an effort to break the smoking cycle for future generations, a new Aboriginal health campaign is embracing the culture of story-telling and yarning through the power of film and social media.

The campaign features the smoking stories of 16 local Ambassadors in the aim of inspiring Adelaide’s Aboriginal communities to rewrite their own stories and give up smokes for good.

To support the campaign and watch the Ambassadors’ stories visit

Developed by the Puiyurti (Don’t Smoke) team at Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc, the campaign will be launched on Friday 25th January. It will include six short documentaries and a short viral film shot by award winning New York photographer and ex-Adelaide local, Steven Laxton.

As part of the campaign, one Ambassador’s story will be featured each week. People will be asked to watch and share the films, tell their own smoking stories and make a pledge via the website

Pledges that can be made include: ‘Trying to give up smoking’, ‘Trying to cut down’, ‘Smoking outside’, ‘Supporting someone else to quit’, ‘Sharing the Ambassadors’ stories’ or ‘Hosting a movie session (watching the Ambassadors’ films with friends)’.

Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA Inc Chief Executive, Vicki Holmes, said the campaign wasn’t about preaching the don’t smoke message, but encouraging the community to come together, share their stories and support one another to break the smoking cycle.

“This is a serious issue for our people. Smoking causes one out of every five deaths among Australia’s Indigenous population,” Ms Holmes said.   “Smoking has become normalised in our communities, but this campaign is about saying enough is enough, we must stand up and together make a change, however little that change is.”

Maria Borsi, 50 of Gepps Cross, quit smoking early last year. She is one of 16 Ambassadors who has courageously told her story as part of the campaign. Her documentary film will be available to watch online from Friday 25 January.

“I lost three brothers in 12 months all to cancer. Two of my brothers were really heavy smokers right up to the day they died,” Ms Borsi said.

“It was devastating, but it made me wake up and realise that ‘we aren’t immune’, it does happen to you and those you love.

“I wanted to tell my story to help empower our mob to take action and give up the smokes for good before it’s too late.”

The campaign is being supported by Give Up Smokes for Good in partnership with Aboriginal Health Council of SA, Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service and Cancer Council SA.

To support the campaign and watch the Ambassadors’ stories visit


About the issue

Smoking is a major contributor to the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It is estimated that smoking causes 12% of the sickness and bad health, and 20% of all deaths in Aboriginal populations.

Smoking related cancer was three times more prevalent in Indigenous communities than the rest of the population, and the mortality rate is also significantly higher.

Forty-nine percent of Aboriginal people aged 15 and over in South Australia are current smokers, compared to just 18% for non-indigenous people. The national average of current daily smoking for Indigenous Australians aged 18 years and over is 44% compared to 19% for the non-Indigenous population.

Smoking has become normalised in Aboriginal communities because of high levels of personal and social stress make smoking more acceptable.

(This data comes from the South Australian Aboriginal Health Survey 2012 and Health Omnibus Survey 2011 and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2008, and the National Health Survey 2007-08. Updated data will be available from the ABS in 2013.)

Campaign Ambassadors

1. Maria Borsi, Arabuna woman, 50 of Gepps Cross (story and film released online Fri 25/1)

2. Robert Taylor, Ngarrindjeri man, 58 of Para Hills (story and film released online Thur 31/1)

3. Vicki Hodgson, Arabuna woman, 53 of Golden Grove (story and film released online Thur 7/2)

4. Tony Walker, Narungga man, 58 of Modbury North (story and film released online Thur 14/2)

5. Jean Pinkie, Bindjali woman, 63 of Wingfield (story and film released online Thur 21/2)

6. Gordon Wanganeen, Narungga/Ngarrindjeri man, 28 of Rosewater (story and film released online Thurs 28/2)

7. Aunty Irene Allan, Tanganekald Elder, 71 of Birkenhead (story released online Thur 7/3)

8. Nari Sinclair, Ngarrindjeri woman, 35 of Modbury (story released online Thur 14/3)

9. Kirsty Ah Matt, Torres Strait Islander Ngalakan woman, 41 of Craigmore (story released online Thur 28/3)

10. David Copley, Kaurna Elder, 60 of Aldinga Beach (story released Thur 4/4)

11. Harold Stewart, Eora Elder, 61 of West Croydon (story released online Thur 11/4)

12. Aunty Martha Watts, Arabuna Elder, 69 of Paralowie (story released online Thur 18/4)

13. Belinda Wilson, Ngarrindjeri woman, 57 of Munno Para (story released online Thur 25/4)

14. Margaret Farrugia, Noongar Elder, 72 of Gawler East (story released online Thur 2/5)

15. Jessie Matthews, Ngarrindjeri/Adnyamathanha Elder, 61 of Parafield Gardens (story released online Thur 9/5)

16. Pamela Jones, Adnyamathanha/Arabuna Elder, 64 of Elizabeth Vale (story released online Thur 16/5)

About the Short Film

‘Daniel’s Story’ (released online Fri 25/1) is a 3.30 min film based on the lives of real Nunga men and women – 16 Aboriginal Ambassadors from the Adelaide community who are taking a stand against smoking as part of the Rewrite Your Story campaign.

The film uses reverse motion shots get to the heart of what it feels like to make a brave decision to quit smoking and alter the tragic course of action. It stars Warren Milera as Daniel and features Robert Taylor as Daniel’s father, Clifford Wilson as young Daniel and Aunty Irene Allan as Daniel’s mother.

The film was directed by award winning New York photographer and ex-Adelaide local, Steven Laxton, and written by Craig Jackson of Hybrid Marketing and Advertising and produced by Sam Johnson of Sassyjaymedia. Music for the film was composed by local Aboriginal musicians, Nancy Bates and Allan Sumner. Nancy will be performing with Archie Roach as part of the forth coming Adelaide Festival.

4 comments on “New Aboriginal health campaign embraces film and social media to break the smoking cycle

  1. Pingback: The Next Frontier of Australia | We dream of things that never were and say: "Why not?"

  2. Debra, we coudn’t agree more! Cross collaboration is so important in ensuring we are learning from each other, and helping to promote the incredible range of resources available to Indigenous Australians and the health workers, teachers, peak bodies, and Indigenous figures who work with, and represent Aboriginal people.

    We’ve been engaging with Rewrite Your Story in the social media world to unite for the same goal – empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to quit smoking or make the decision to never start. We hope to work with them to see where there is futher areas for collaboration. We love their campaign and see lots of opportunities!
    FYI, we maintain a webpage of useful links to like-minded organisations
    Perhaps we can add Asthma Australia?

  3. Interesting to see this in the context of the govt funded QUIT program with same intent (in SA) and the NoSmokes resource…hopefully each Foundation will liaise with relevant local services 🙂

    Debra Kay Chief Executive Officer

    Asthma Australia Working together to help people with asthma and linked conditions to breathe better

    PO Box 603 Kent Town, SA 5071

    M 0430 909 686

    1800 645 130


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