The global COVID-19 pandemic means that this is an uncertain and stressful time for all of us. In these circumstances, it is important to rely on evidence-based actions and on information from reliable sources. The HealthInfoNet site has some useful links. It is important that we only reference official Australian sites and information and not rely on unofficial social media information or overseas strategies as they may be inaccurate or misleading.
As a population health initiative, TIS workers will no longer be able to carry out the face to face activities you had planned for the coming months. This might be frustrating, but keeping everyone as safe as possible from the COVID-19 outbreak has to be the first priority. We do not want to catch the virus or be transmitters to others so we need to follow the golden rules of thorough hygiene and physical distancing.
However, TIS teams still have an important role to play under the direction of your organisation. As we know, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to high levels of chronic disease, housing overcrowding, and poorer access to health services especially in our regional and remote areas. People who smoke are also likely to be more severely affected by COVID-19 if they do become infected.
This means that right now the best thing you can do for the health of smokers in your community is to continue to support them to stop smoking.
So, what can you do to keep the momentum going for the TIS program in your location? Here are a few ideas we have had at NBPU TIS to get you started and we will progressively add to the list:
As mentioned, the above are suggestions to get you thinking about what creative, innovative and impactful activities can our TIS workforce do while we are restricted from travelling and interacting with the community in close quarters. We would value hearing about your ideas.
Meanwhile, the NBPU TIS is putting together an online training package specifically for TIS workers so watch this space. There are other resources you might find interesting; Stanford University’s research into the impact of tobacco advertising or what about a free online course to upskill your social media marketing (choosing the option ‘Audit The Course’ gives free access to all the content which you can follow at your own pace).
And we also want to hear from you – how is your team responding to this unplanned for change in TIS program activity? What ideas do you have? What are you doing already? What can we do to help? We encourage you to sign up to the Facebook National TIS Workers Yarning Group to have conversations with us and other teams around Australia.
The NBPU cannot answer any questions about what the TIS Program is going to look like (from now to whenever). However, please note that the Department and the National Coordinator are reviewing the implications of COVID-19 on the operations of all elements of the TIS program and advice will be coming out in the near future.
Again, thank you for your patience during this time. Stay safe, stay healthy and rigorously follow the social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
Manager NBPU TIS
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters of Australia and the Torres Strait.
We respect all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—their customs and their beliefs. We also pay our respects to Elders past and present, with particular acknowledgement to the Whadjuk people of the Nyoongar nation, the traditional owners of the lands where our offices are located.