Reporting on your TIS activities

You will need to provide a formal written report to the TIS program funder, the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH). The Department has provided a new reporting template which is also available for download from this page. Teams should note that contrary to the current Standard Grant Agreement, which has six and 12 month progress reporting, each progress report for TIS funded teams, will now cover a six month period.

TIS RTCG six month performance report template

Please download this template to use for your performance reporting. Please note: Under Indicator 1, in the section ‘In Your Service Delivery Region’ (p.4), the question should read: ‘In the past six months how many events have you held to support prevention of uptake of smoking and/or smoking cessation?’.

Performance reporting review process – July 2021

This PDF outlines the performance reporting review process.

Monitoring and reporting on social media activities with Penney Upton (narrated slides)

Please listen to this short presentation (20 minutes) which discusses the monitoring and reporting of social media activities, including reach, engagement and impact. Please note: The presentation will start playing automatically when opened.

Performance reporting FAQs – July 2021

This document provides general advice and answers frequently asked questions about the indicators for performance reporting.

Tips for performance reporting

The performance report is your opportunity to show the difference your program is making in the communities across your region. As there is a limited number of words, you need to make them count. The NBPU has developed a number of tips for presenting the progress you are making, which should be read along with the guidance document and good practice example:

  • Make sure the report includes the full range of information about what is changing in your region. A good way to do this is to make reporting a team effort. For example, if the organisation manager or TIS Coordinator is responsible for writing the report, they might want to sit with the team and a whiteboard and go through the key points before they start writing.
  • Please ensure you list all of your activities under the appropriate TIS Performance Indicator. You need to show how each of your activities is making a difference in the community. Think about what has changed since the last report (outcomes).
  • You should also add attachments to your report, e.g. examples or links to resources you have produced such as videos or posters.
  • Rather than just saying that something has changed, show how you know you have made a difference (present the evidence and remember to provide some context around these changes).
  • If you are reporting numbers (quantitative data) include the total number of people who you had contact with as well as the number who made a change (e.g. 14 of the 20 people attending your quit support group during this reporting period were able to cut down their smoking).
  • When reporting the percentage of people making a change, remember that it is best practice to include the actual number as well (e.g. 70% of people attending your quit support group during this period were able to cut down their smoking, which is 14/20 people).
  • When reporting stories (qualitative data) make sure you focus on the part of the story that shows how your activities are making a difference to smoking. Whilst it’s great that the netball team you sponsor has won all of their games recently, what matters for the performance report are things such as whether all the games have been smoke-free. If your players are ambassadors explain how they helped support your activities, messaging and so on.
  • It’s really important that your report brings out the voices of the community and provides narratives where possible, so the report talks about real people and what the program is doing for them (so use short quotes or images to illustrate your report and provide ‘good news’ stories).
  • Some TIS teams have been asking for advice about when someone’s status changes from a smoker to an ex-smoker (for reporting on activity outcomes). This will be discussed with the program evaluators once they come on board to ensure everyone is collecting appropriate data. However, in the meantime our stance on defining ex-smoker status is as follows:
    • the NBPU would recommend using the international convention which is four weeks (28 days). Whilst this may not seem like a long time, since those first few weeks are the worst and most of the cravings should be done by that point, anyone who lasts that long is well on the road to giving up the smokes for good. It is also useful to make a distinction between people who have been ex-smokers for <12 months (short term) and >12 months (long term quit). We suggest these two categories because we know that if you are able to abstain for 12 months, the chances of relapse are statistically much reduced and most people at that point will remain smoke-free. However you decide to categorise people, remember that it is important to define clearly the criteria you are using (four weeks, 12 months etc).

Cold turkey

Evidence suggests that supported quit attempts (e.g. using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), having group or individual counselling) are more successful than unaided attempts. However not everyone wants to use medicine such as NRT, or see a counsellor and many people who smoke quit unaided.

Unaided quitting is known as going ‘cold turkey’. People who smoke who want to quit this way should be advised to make a plan. Planning when they will quit and what they will do when cravings strike means they are more likely to succeed. The aim is to change the habits associated with smoking. This means thinking about things such as when and where someone smokes. Planning includes:

  • setting a quit date
  • throwing away smoking gear (e.g. cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters)
  • changing routines linked with smoking (e.g. instead of smoking in a work break go for a walk)
  • avoiding situations where they usually smoke
  • starting new activities (e.g. exercise) to replace smoking.

The case study in Box 1 provides an example of how someone was able to quit using this method. Support from family and friends was an important part of this process.

Box 1: Quitting Cold Turkey

As a crisis support worker for the Kamunga Aboriginal Health Service working with young homeless people and those in other critical situations, Margie Jackson could have plenty of excuses for continuing to smoke. But after smoking 70-plus cigarettes a day for 26 years, Margie’s body was telling her that it was time to give up.

Margie first took up smoking after the birth of her daughter as a way of coping with postnatal depression. She thought that smoking would be a better way of dealing with the depression than taking medication. Over the years, Margie made many a new year’s resolution to quit smoking but they were always short lived. Wednesday, the 18th February 2004, though was different. After suffering from chest infection every winter, Margie finally decided to quit.

Margie felt the key to success in this quitting attempt was both her strong commitment to doing so, and a sense that the time had come to face up to the damage that smoking was doing both to her health and to her wallet. She was staggered to find that she had smoked her way through $6000 worth of cigarettes every year. But it was watching her mother die of smoking-related illness that finally forced Margie to realise the damage that smoking could do.

After briefly trying nicotine patches and finding that they did not suit her, Margie was able to quit ‘cold turkey’. Support from friends, family and work colleagues, especially other people who smoke, were an important part of the quitting process. Her partner at the time, out of consideration for Margie, took to smoking outside the house; he soon followed her lead and gave up himself. This positive feedback gave her both a sense of pride in what she was doing and her self esteem a real boost.

Margie says she cannot remember suffering from bad nicotine cravings; instead, she focused on the positives she was experiencing from being smoke-free. She found new joy in her favourite foods and perfumes once her sense of smell and taste quickly recovered. Her skin also felt smoother and her clothes no longer had the odour of tobacco smoke. While Margie did gain a bit of weight, she has since been able to lose most of it. This has been further helped by her increased fitness because of no longer suffering from regular bouts of bronchitis.

Margie feels she encourages other people who smoke around her to quit – not through giving them lecture but through leading by example. She likes to share her experience with friends and family in the hope that it will inspire them to quit too. Margie is to be congratulated on her success and we would like to thank her for sharing her story with us.

Material adapted from:

Usually when someone quits using the cold turkey method they quit all at once. Evidence shows this is more successful than tapering (cutting down), even if someone chooses to quit using support from pharmacology or a health professional. However not everyone is ready to quit smoking. For anyone not quite ready to quit, but who is starting to think about the benefits of not smoking, cutting down is a good way for people to get more control over their smoking and start to change their smoking habit. Cutting down can give people the confidence to quit. More tips on how to cut down are given in Box 2.

Box 2: How to cut down on the smokes

To get any health benefits it is necessary to stop smoking completely, but some people aren’t ready to do that. They may feel nervous about quitting or feel put off because they have been unsuccessful at quitting in the past. But there are ways to help people get more confident and feel more in control of their smoking. They can practise not smoking in every-day situations where they would normally smoke, as well as cutting down in other ways. By doing this they are taking small steps towards quitting for good. Some suggestions to cut down are:

  • cut down gradually, for example smoke one less each day, butt out when it is only half finished, or make the mornings/evenings a smoke-free zone
  • replace cigarettes with carrot sticks, cassava sticks or fruit, chew on sugar-free gum or brush your teeth instead
  • do something else instead, for example knitting, swimming or gardening, go for a swim, walk or run, or take a shower
  • reward yourself for cutting down.

Material adapted from:

Further reading

Monitoring and evaluation methods

There are two types of data that you can collect, quantitative and qualitative:

Quantitative data is numerical and includes audits or counts. For example you could count the number of attendees at an activity, the number of activities carried out, the number of referrals to a quit support group.

Qualitative data is the information you get when you gather people’s thoughts or feelings about an activity. You might gather this through an interview when you ask people to tell you in their own words what they thought about an activity, or what the benefits of going to a quit support group have been. However qualitative data can take many forms – people might also be asked to express their feelings through photographs, paintings, drama, or other imagery.

The type of data you collect will depend partly on the question you want answered but also on the sort of data collection methods that will work best in your community.

Data collection methods


Counting is the most basic (and easiest) type of data collection. You can count the number (N) of participants, the kind of participants (e.g. age, people who smoke, people who do not smoke, male / female), and the outcome of participation (e.g. N who were referred to Quitline or quit support services). It is important to make sure you collect good quality data by accurate and consistent counting (making sure you count the same thing in the same way each time).

Case studies and success stories

Case studies and success stories are both ways of showing the impact of your project. This story of impact is really important and the reason your M&E has to go beyond just numerical counts. CIRCA have provided a space for you to tell these stories on the six-monthly performance report.

You should provide a story that shows the impact your activities have against each of the program indicators. The focus of this story might be:

  • change for individuals or families
  • a successful event
  • training that you have facilitated
  • organisational change.

Case studies and success stories are very similar. The main difference is the point of view from which the story is written:

  • a case study is written from the participant point of view. So they might describe a family’s experience of going smoke free in the home and car. Or the thoughts and feelings of a group of workers after a brief intervention training session.  Many case studies focus on individual stories like the example provided here.
  • a success story is written from the point of view of the organisation. An example can be found here.

Case studies and success stories should be specific and include relevant information (data) as evidence of the difference you have made. They can be illustrated with quotes and photos – but remember to get people’s permission to share their information. You can find out more about how to gather data for an individual case study here. You can also download templates for writing your case studies and success stories.

Focus group/yarning group

A focus group is a planned discussion with selected individuals, which you use to gather information, or opinions – for example on your activities – or to measure local knowledge of the benefits of quitting, what quit support is available and so on.

The group should be held in a familiar and comfortable environment so participants feel at ease. It is good practice to provide snack and drinks so that participants feel welcome and valued. This also sets a friendly and informal tone for the session. The group should be run by someone who can keep the conversation ‘on topic’ without influencing what people say (they should be impartial).

It is important to know what you want to ask before going into the focus group – this Focus groups resource provides a guide to writing focus group questions. You can also find an example of questions for focus groups on TIS topics such as the second module in the Aboriginal tobacco resistance toolkit on workplace smoke-free policies. You also need to think about how you will record what people say. Will a second person make notes on the discussion, or will you make a video or audio recording? If you use any kind of recording device, you must ask people’s permission first.

A more detailed guide on running a focus group can be found here.


Interviews are one-to-one question and answer sessions. Interviews are usually best carried out face-to-face, although telephone interviews are also popular. Instant messaging can also be used if your participants have the technology and are happy to use it.

As with a focus group you need to choose a setting for the interview where you and your interviewee feel comfortable, and where there will be no interruptions. You also need to have planned your questions, and thought about how to record what the person you are interviewing says. Will you take notes, or make an audio recording? Again you must get the person’s agreement if you want to record them.

This Semi-structured interviews resource can be a helpful guide to developing and writing interview questions for evaluation. Examples of the kinds of questions you might want to ask about knowledge of smoking harms and tobacco use can be found on the Resources to monitor and evaluate your program page. More general information can be found in this Interviews factsheet.


There are two types of observation:

  • direct observation – this is where the observer is an unidentified ‘fly on the wall’ (you will need permission if you want to observe people, whether in a workplace or school or other venue/location)
  • participant observation – where the observer takes part in an activity with the participants and asks questions.

Observation can be useful when you want to find out if people are keeping to smoke-free policies. A checklist, such as the example provided by the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) in its Aboriginal tobacco resistance toolkit is a good way of recording your observations:

Questionnaire survey

This is a good method of gathering information from a large number of people. This information is collected by asking everyone the same questions. The kind of data you get will depend on the questions you ask. For example questions which give people a fixed set of answers (closed questions) will give you quantitative data:

Question: Did you find the quit support group helpful?
Answer: Yes/No

You can then count how many people say ‘yes’ and how many say ‘no’. Or you could ask them to rate how satisfied they are with the support group on a scale of 1-5:

Question: How helpful did you find the support group?
Answer: 1 2 3 4 5
Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful  Neither helpful nor unhelpful Somewhat unhelpful Very unhelpful

You can then count how many found the group very helpful, somewhat helpful and so on. However questions with yes/no answers or simple rating scales like this might not tell you everything you want to know. You might want to ask a question that allows people to give a free written response;

Question: What did you think of the quit support group?
Answer: ____________________________________

People can write what they like and this will give qualitative data. An advantage of this is that you will get much more detailed information about what people think. The disadvantage is that you might have to spend a lot of time organising answers so as to make sense of what is being said. The type of question you ask and the response choices you give people are therefore very important.

A helpful guide to developing and writing survey questions for evaluation can be found here. Examples of the kinds of questions you might want to ask about knowledge of smoking harms and tobacco use can be found in the Survey question bank on the Resources to monitor and evaluate your program page along with a template for a post workshop feedback questionnaire that you could use to find out about participant satisfaction with activities. An example of using a questionnaire for evaluation can be seen in Box 1.

Box 1: Using a questionnaire to evaluate an activity

During the delivery of ‘Operation Smoke Signals’, an evaluation was done to see whether it was meeting the project’s objectives. Using a questionnaire, participants were asked for their feedback about the quitting course to measure their satisfaction levels. They were asked questions, such as:

  • Was the venue suitable, the session times convenient and the facilities adequate?
  • Did they find the content useful?
  • What did they like about the course?
  • What didn’t they like about the course?
  • How would they improve the course?

The results of the questionnaire showed that participants felt comfortable taking part in the course, that they found the staff friendly and the topics covered helpful. However, some had to drop out because they had problems with transportation and child care. To improve the running of the course, the local community bus is now picking up those participants who need a lift, and child care is being offered by the health service.

Material adapted from:

Story telling

Stories are a good way of capturing individual experiences. They are usually verbal, but can use a range of other methods such as writing, drawing, drama, web sites/blogs. When using storytelling for evaluation the focus is on how individuals or groups make sense of their experiences. Story telling is increasingly being recognised as a way of capturing significant changes in people’s lives.

A guide to using verbal story telling for evaluation, and how to use templates to collect significant change stories can be found here. You can also find a significant change story template here or on the Resources to monitor and evaluate your program page. Section four of the Talkin’ up good air: Australian Indigenous tobacco control resource kit also has some useful information and advice on gathering stories.

Examples of other creative approaches to gathering data including playing games, creating a storyboard or using photography can be found in this Creative strategies resource.

TIS evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation will take place at two levels for the TIS program. It is expected that all TIS funded organisations will monitor their activities and evaluate project outcomes at a local level. In addition, a national evaluation of all the components of the TIS program will be carried out. There are two evaluators of the National TIS program. Part A of the evaluation will be conducted by the Cultural & Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA). Part B of the evaluation will be conducted by the Australian National University (ANU).

National TIS Performance Indicators

Six National Indicators will be used to assess TIS program progress. Each of these indicators is described below, along with the data sources described by CIRCA and examples of data collection methods. Click on any of the data collection methods listed under each indicator to learn more about that specific data collection technique. You can also find more monitoring and evaluation resources to help you here: Resources to monitor and evaluate your program

NBPU TIS strongly recommends that you collect both quantitative and qualitative data. This will allow you to address the National Indicators in full and tell the story of your successes. It will also ensure strong data for your own internal monitoring and evaluation of your activities as part of your continual quality improvement (CQI) process.

National Indicator 1: Implementation of evidence-based population health promotion activities aimed at preventing the uptake of smoking and supporting the promotion of cessation

The outcomes related to this indicator are:

  • Increased community involvement in and support for initiatives to reduce the uptake of smoking and increase sustained cessation
  • Increased leadership and advocacy role of community leaders in tobacco control
  • Increased understanding by the community of the health impacts of smoking
  • Population health promotion activities are locally relevant and have community support.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number of community members participating in population health promotion activities and events
  • Number of community leaders participating in population health promotion activities and events
  • Number and type of evidence-based population health promotion activities including social marketing, community education and community engagement
  • Number and reach as evidenced by social media analytics, other media activities, and production/distribution of health promotion materials.

This indicator focuses on two aspects of your activity:

  • the extent of community reach and engagement of your activities (please note however that any activities targeted on either priority groups, people who do not attend ACCHS, or to increase geographical reach are not to be reported here, as these are the focus of Indicators 5 and 6)
  • the type of evidence-based population health promotion activities you do.

Community reach and engagement

Numerical data (counts) of the number of community members and community leaders involved in or attending your activities/smoke-free events is a simple way of addressing this indicator. Social media analytics are also important. This indicator is concerned with increasing the reach of your activity, so if your project is working, the number of community members and leaders involved in your activities should increase over time. If they don’t then you will need to think about why this is happening. Do you need to find new ways to engage community interest? You might also want to think about how representative of community the people you do see at your activities are. For example, are there certain groups in your community you are just not reaching, such as full-time workers? How could you make sure your activities are accessible to everyone? Or it might be that all community leaders are now involved in your activities. In this case, maintaining their involvement will become a key task for you.

You also need to find out what people think about your TIS activities and if they have learnt anything new about smoking, such as ways to quit, or support for quitting that is available in your community. This is because reach is not just about the number of people who attend your activities, but about how many listen to and understand the message (the third outcome under this indicator). This kind of data can be either quantitative or qualitative, and can be collected through:

As this data is not directly captured by the six monthly progress report, it will be important to provide this information as part of the story around your activity (case study or success story). You should also give a description of what you did to engage the community, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work and why. What are the strengths of your community and its leaders that have made this activity a success? You will also need to consider what the risks and challenges have been for your team, and how you have worked to overcome them.

Evidence-based population health promotion activities

Simple numerical data (counts) for each type of evidence-based population health promotion activity you do will address this part of the indicator. You will also need to record the location of your activities (e.g. neighbourhood, town or region). Activities of specific interest under this indicator are:

  • social marketing campaigns
  • social media activities
  • development and distribution of resources
  • community education
  • community engagement (including event attendance/support).

To avoid repetition, partnership working and collaborations developed do not need to be reported here. This information will be captured under Indicator 2. It will also be important to demonstrate (through your Action Work Plan) that these activities are evidence-based.

National Indicator 2: Partnerships and collaborations facilitate support for tobacco control

The outcome related to this indicator is:

  • Collaborations and partnerships built between TIS organisations and external support for tobacco control initiatives.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number and type of organisations involved in planning/implementing TIS activities
  • Number and type of collaborative projects/partnership activities
  • Number and type of partnerships with local service providers to enable increased geographical reach
  • Number and type of partnerships with local service providers to enable increased reach to priority groups.

There is simple data you can collect around the number and type of organisations, services or individuals you have partnered with as part of your population health promotion activities. Of specific interest are partnerships with:

  • mainstream services
  • schools
  • community organisations/sporting clubs
  • local, state or federal government organisations
  • community leaders or community champions
  • networks/interagency groups.

As you can see from the data sources described by CIRCA, it will be useful to think about the purpose of these partnerships, for example if they increase your reach into areas within the region you are contracted to service, or priority populations including pregnant women, or people who do not typically attend ACCHS. You should also collect more detailed data which describes the quality and extent of your collaboration with different partners and how these partnerships have improved geographical or priority group reach, for example through case studies of the partnership journey.

Think about the quality of your relationships with the different organisations you have entered into partnership with as well. Different ways of doing this include tools that involve the grant recipient organisation and their partner/s individually assessing the relationship and then coming together to discuss and move forward. Examples of these tools include:

This information will be an important part of providing the story around your activity (case study or success story). What did you do to engage the organisations, what worked, what didn’t work and why? What are the strengths of your organisation and those you have partnered with that have made this activity a success? What were the risks and challenges and how have you worked to overcome them?

National Indicator 3: Increased access to Quit support through capacity building

The outcomes related to this indicator are:

  • Improved access to culturally appropriate support to quit
  • Increase in awareness of Quitline among community members and local health services
  • Increases in skills among those professionals in contact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Increases in Quitline referrals made throughout the TIS program.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number of Quitline referrals
  • Number of referrals to other services for Quit support, e.g Quit support groups
  • Number of FTE positions with a focus on tobacco control
  • Number of FTE positions with a focus on tobacco control that are currently filled
  • Number and type of assistance provided to organisations to establish, maintain or improve brief interventions
  • Number and percentage of staff with a major focus on tobacco control/TIS staff who have completed formal training
  • Number and percentage and role of staff who do not have a major focus on tobacco control (e.g clinicians) who have completed formal training in brief advice, smoking cessation or tobacco control.

This indicator is concerned with community access to quit services. Access to healthcare services is only possible if:

  • appropriate and affordable services are available and have capacity
  • people are aware of and trust those services and feel the service provided meets their needs.

If both of these are in place, we should see good uptake of services.

Availability and capacity of appropriate services

From the data sources described by CIRCA, you can see there is simple data you can collect around the number and percentage of staff in your own organisation or others, who have:

  • a focus on tobacco control
  • undertaken training related to TIS.

This will provide information about the availability and capacity of appropriate services. CIRCA are interested in formal training courses which staff have done – specifically Quitskills.

You also need to report the number of organisations you have supported to develop or maintain their capacity to carry out brief interventions with clients. This could be providing or facilitating a training day for new staff, or a refresher course for staff in another organisation.

You should also collect more detailed data which describes the impact of training on staff knowledge and skills, and their confidence in supporting community members asking for advice (the third outcome under this indicator). You can collect this data through:

You should report this information as part of your case study or success story as it is not captured directly on the six monthly report. You can also report any relevant training carried out at your own or another organisation that was not Quitskills as part of this story.

Awareness and uptake of services

You will need to collect simple data (counts) of:

  • the number of written referrals made to Quitline
  • the number of referrals made to other services for Quit support.

A good way of finding out whether awareness of services has increased in (a) the community and (b) healthcare practitioners (the second outcome under this indicator) is through:

  • surveys with community members about smoking status, knowledge of quit services, and use of quit services
  • surveys of service providers about number of clients seen from the community and knowledge of available quit services.

This will provide good data to support your case study or success story. Examples of surveys you can use or adapt for your own region are available from the NBPU Survey Question Bank. You can also provide more qualitative data around how your project has supported local communities in the region to get better access to quit support. This could be based on:

You will also need to report any risks and challenges for your team in delivering against this indicator, and how you have worked to overcome these challenges.

National Indicator 4: Reduced exposure to second hand smoke

The outcomes related to this indicator are:

  • Increase in smoke-free homes, workplaces and public spaces
  • Increase in activities aimed at minimising exposure to passive smoking.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number and type of smoke-free space or workplace policies adopted and/or reviewed by relevant organisations
  • Number of local events organised to be smoke-free
  • Number and type of assistance provided to organisations to establish, maintain or improve a smoke-free policy
  • Number of smoke-free homes and/or pledges to keep homes smoke-free.

From these data sources you can see there is simple data you should collect around the number of events locally that you have supported to be smoke-free, how many organisations you have worked with to develop/improve smoke-free policies or to increase worker compliance with policies. You can also count how many homes and cars are smoke-free or, how many people have pledged to be smoke free. Good ways of doing this include:

  • surveys with local people or organisations, using a short questionnaire like this one: Smoke free homes questionnaire
  • pledges taken at events or through social media
  • observation of smoking behaviours in the community or in workplaces, for example using an environmental scan like the one provided by AH&MRC in their Aboriginal tobacco resistance toolkit.

You will also need to report on your own organisation’s smoke-free policy, including whether or not staff and board members comply with smoke-free policies:

  • indoors
  • outdoors, except within any designated areas
  • in work vehicles
  • in uniform
  • in work time.

You should also collect more in-depth data on understanding about what being smoke-free means and how important it is to people to try to be smoke-free. You can ask the people who smoke if they go without smokes at home, in the car, near their children, at work, or on other occasions, and how they handle smoke-free times. Good ways to get this information are:

  • interviews
  • focus groups.

Finally, you should describe how you have supported the communities in your region to become more smoke-free and how people have responded to these activities. You will also need to report any risks and challenges for your team in delivering against this indicator, and how you have worked to overcome these challenges.

National Indicator 5: Increased focus on priority groups, e.g pregnant women

The outcomes related to this indicator are:

  • Evidence based approaches are being used to reach priority groups
  • Increase in population health promotion activities targeting priority groups, particularly pregnant women.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number of people in priority groups participating in/reached by population health promotion activities
  • Number and type of population health promotion activities that have a specific focus on pregnant women and other identified priority groups.

This indicator is concerned with whether your activities are reaching and engaging priority groups in your service area. Some of these groups have been described nationally (e.g. pregnant women), however there may also be other groups of people which are a priority for your community (e.g. older men).

A simple count of the priority groups you have identified for your service delivery area, and the number and type of targeted activities you do for each of these groups will also be important (e.g. targeted health education sessions, targeted social marketing or targeted events). You will also need to report the number of people participating in these activities. Activities of interest include:

  • social marketing campaigns
  • social media activities
  • development and distribution of resources
  • community education
  • community engagement (including event attendance/support).

You should also collect more in-depth data to tell the story of the difference your activities are making for priority groups. This could include questions about new knowledge about the benefits of being smoke free, what being smoke-free means to them, and how important it is to your priority groups. You might ask mums-to-be what they are doing to keep their home and car smoke-free, if they are trying or intending to quit, and if so has anyone else in the family joined them on their smoke-free journey. Good ways to get this information include:

This will provide good data to support your case study or success story.

You will also need to report any risks and challenges for your team in delivering against this indicator, and how you have worked to overcome these challenges.

National Indicator 6: Increased reach into communities

The outcomes related to this indicator are:

  • Increase in reach (including geographical reach) of population health promotion activities
  • Increase in reach to community members, including those who do not attend Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Data sources described by CIRCA are:

  • Number and location of activities conducted that extend geographical reach of activities
  • Number and type of population health promotion activities and partnerships that have a specific focus on people who do not attend Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

This indicator focuses on geographical reach. You need to show that the activities you do extend across your contracted service area and include community members who do not routinely use ACCHO services. Simple numerical data (counts) will address this indicator, and include the number, type and location of your activities. You will also need to report the number of people who attended. Specific activities of interest include:

  • social marketing campaigns
  • social media activities
  • development and distribution of resources
  • community education
  • community engagement (including event attendance/support).

You should also provide a detailed description of what you did to engage the communities across your service area, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work and why. It will be useful to report this as part of your case study or success story. You will also need to report any risks and challenges for your team in delivering against this indicator, and how you have worked to overcome these challenges.

Evaluation documents

Evaluation 2018-19 to 2021-22

A national evaluation of the TIS program will take place. The evaluation of the TIS program for the next phase of the program will be split into a two-part process. The Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA) will conduct part A of the TIS evaluation. The organisation conducting part B is the Australian National University (ANU).

The Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the TIS program 2018-19 to 2021-22 is available here. This document provides a framework for part A of the evaluation of the TIS program, and includes information on:

  • the TIS program
  • the purpose of the evaluation
  • the questions the evaluation aims to answer
  • how these questions will be answered.

Evaluation 2015 – 2018

preliminary evaluation report of the TIS program was produced by CIRCA. The report provides an evaluation of the first year of the TIS program (Jan – Dec 2016), with a focus on the regional tobacco control grants delivering localised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco interventions. A number of recommendations are made to further enhance outcomes from the program, which are directed at the Government, the Department of Health, and key program stakeholders.

The final evaluation of the TIS program from 2015-2018 was produced by CIRCA, and released in March 2019. The evaluation looked at: how effective the TIS program is; how well it meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and whether it’s on target to achieve its long term goals. The report found that the program is on track to achieve long-term objectives to reduce tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Using physical activity to enhance quit rates

Other activities can support people to succeed in their attempts to quit. While nicotine addiction plays a big role in maintaining smoking behaviours, factors such as the social interactions that smoking supports, and psychological causes such as habit, also make it hard for people who smoke to quit.

Giving people new habits and ways of interacting to replace the gap left by not smoking may therefore be helpful. For example, if someone uses ‘going for a smoke’ with friends and family as a way of having a yarn or as an opportunity to debrief or blow off steam with co-workers, then it is important that they find other ways to engage in these important social interactions. So ‘come and have a smoke with me’ might become ‘come and have a cuppa’ or ‘come for a walk/bike ride/swim’.

There is some evidence that exercise can be an aid to smoking cessation. Recent evidence from Canada has shown that including a structured exercise program alongside nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can increase quit rates and this is sustained over time. Exercise seems to reduce withdrawal and cravings for cigarettes. This may be because physical activity stimulates the reward centres in the brain in a similar way to smoking. The pleasurable ‘high’ that exercise delivers might also provide a distraction from the cravings and negative thoughts experienced during quitting.

Aerobic exercise (e.g. running, swimming, cycling) and some kinds of strength training (isometric) is especially helpful for reducing withdrawal symptoms and cigarette cravings. Effects can last as long as 50 minutes after the exercise session. As well as starting a regular exercise routine, someone trying to quit might use exercise as a distractor when an urge for a cigarette strikes. This might be as simple as going for a short walk. For more tips on coping with cravings see Box 1. To find out more about strategies for people who are quitting smoking to manage stress read the Key facts about smoking and stress factsheet.

In the longer term, exercise programs might help prevent relapse by boosting self-esteem, feelings of wellbeing and reinforcing a person’s self-image as a non-smoker and physically active individual.

Box 1: The four Ds guide to beat the craving…


Delay acting on the urge to smoke. Don’t open a pack or light a cigarette. After a few minutes, the urge to smoke will weaken.

Drink water

Sip some water slowly, holding it in the mouth a little longer to savour the taste.

Deep breaths

Take deep slow breaths in and out and repeat three times. Deep breathing will take the focus off the cravings.

Do something else

To take your mind off smoking, do something else:

  • listen to music
  • go for a walk or exercise
  • or talk to a friend.

Material adapted from:

Further reading


It is important that TIS teams work to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to cessation support services such as Quitline. They can do this by raising awareness and understanding of these support services, addressing any misunderstandings, and promoting service use in their region. This might include referring people who smoke to Quitline, as well as providing education and information about the service.

There is some evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may be reluctant to use the mainstream Quitline because of a perception that non-Indigenous counsellors would be unable to relate to them, or that they would talk down to them.

Since 2010 the Department of Health has provided funding to all Quitline services to enhance the capacity and knowledge of Quitline counsellors to enable them to deliver appropriate and culturally sensitive services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been built to promote and encourage use of Quitline services. This has included outreach work with counsellors, visiting services, and community events. Some services also employ dedicated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander counsellors.

Reports from Quitline providers indicate capacity, with most staff having undertaken training, and an increase in referrals to Quitline (both self-referrals and referrals by agencies) being seen across sites.

While uptake of services has clearly benefited from this approach, evidence for the effectiveness of Quitline for supporting cessation attempts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is still limited. However, there is no reason to believe that culturally sensitive Quitlines would not be effective, as long as if people are able to access the service.

The NBPU have produced a Key facts about Quitline factsheet that provides key information about the Quitline service for TIS workers including promotion of Quitline for cessation support, how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Quitline counsellors can help community members and common questions about Quitline.

Further reading


Behavioural counselling is well established as an effective support mechanism for individuals wishing to quit smoking. Counselling is effective when delivered either on a one-to-one, or in a group setting. There is a relationship between the intensity (length of session contact) and duration (number of sessions) of behavioural smoking cessation counselling and its effectiveness, but even low intensity counselling (3-10 minutes) improves quit rates.

Although the evidence is limited, intensive counselling (more than 10 minutes) has been shown to increase quit rates in some Aboriginal communities. For example, the

included intensive counselling as one component in addition to usual care (quit advice, pharmacotherapy, and patient-initiated follow up). Evidence shows that the program doubled quit rates from 6% to around 12%. This effect was found despite the intervention being implemented with less intensity than originally planned.

Further reading

Brief intervention

Brief intervention (see Box 1) is accepted as an effective approach which increases quit rates in motivated individuals. This approach has been found to be most effective when combined with other interventions such as behavioural support, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Although it is usually delivered in a one-to-one situation, increasing access to brief intervention training is an important and effective part of a population health promotion approach. This is because:

  • simple advice delivered in the right way can have a significant effect on smoking cessation
  • increasing the number of people in different organisations trained in brief interventions will increase our capacity to tackle smoking rates.

Box 1: What is a brief intervention?

Brief intervention makes the most of any opportunity to raise awareness, share knowledge and get someone to think about making changes to improve their health and behaviours. Brief intervention uses counselling skills such as motivational interviewing and goal setting. An understanding of the stages of behaviour change is also important. Brief intervention takes as little as 3 minutes and is usually carried out in a one-to-one situation. The 5As for smoking cessation for health professionals is an international smoking cessation framework used in brief intervention that has been shown to be very effective in encouraging and supporting smoking cessation. More information about the 5As can be found in this podcast developed for the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people featuring Professor David Thomas.

Specific barriers to the use of brief intervention with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients have been identified.

These include:

  • the high rate of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
  • the assumption by health workers that individuals will not be able to quit
  • cultural ways of being which value autonomy and seek to avoid confrontation.

Cultural beliefs are particularly important, as they mean that brief intervention is often seen to be inappropriately telling people how to behave.

The Queensland Government developed a brief intervention training program, SmokeCheck, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and other health professionals who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health clients and communities, which addressed these barriers.  It included culturally sensitive materials and approaches for brief intervention. Evaluation found that SmokeCheck increases health workers confidence when:

  • talking about health issues
  • offering quit advice
  • assessing readiness to quit and
  • initiating a conversation about smoking.

Health workers also reported offering more advice about nicotine replacement therapy and reducing tobacco use after training, suggesting a change in behaviour as well as confidence.

A recent study which included SmokeCheck training as part of a multi-component community project, found that while health workers spoke positively about the training. No-one implemented the intervention as they had been shown. Rather they adapted their approach using only some of the components. No evidence is available yet on how this affected client responses to the intervention – it may have been that these adaptations were appropriate responses to individual need.


A guide to the SmokeCheck brief intervention with clients at the various stages of change.

SmokeCheck and other brief intervention training packages designed specifically for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (e.g. Quitskills) are available in most States and Territories. More information on workforce training for brief intervention can be found here.

Because of the opportunistic nature of brief intervention, it is important that anyone who has contact with people who smoke from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has culturally appropriate brief intervention training. In many organisations only health professionals, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, nurses, doctors, and dentists are trained to do brief interventions. However, because brief intervention is focused on motivation and education, not therapy, you do not need a health background to do this training. They are also opportunistic, meaning that they do not need to take place in a medical setting. This means anyone can do brief intervention training, including:

  • staff from health organisations, who are the first point of contact for clients (e.g receptionists and drivers)
  • staff from non-health organisations that have regular contact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients
  • smoke-free ambassadors or other volunteers who work on community events/outreach activities.

Further reading


Regional Grant funding does not cover TIS teams to offer nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other stop smoking medication (SSM) to people who smoke. This is because TIS teams are funded to carry out population health promotion activities, not individual smoking cessation support. However, it is important that TIS workers have up-to-date knowledge of the individual level cessation supports such as NRT and SSM, as these can inform population health promotion activities (e.g community knowledge building).

A number of studies have examined the extent to which NRT is an effective smoking cessation treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Overall NRT is effective, particularly if free/subsidised, and especially if accompanied by good follow-up support services. Evidence about the effectiveness of other SSM such as Varenicline (Champix) and bupropion (Zyban) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is limited. An article from the Talking about the Smokes (TATS) survey,

found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to use NRT or SSM as part of a quit attempt (37%) than non-Indigenous people who smoke (58.5%). However, just under three quarters of those surveyed believed NRT and SSM did help people who smoke to quit. Cost is probably the main barrier to using pharmacological aids. Nicotine patches – available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients at a subsidised cost on an authority script through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – were the most common pharmacological aids used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke and recent ex-smokers (24%). Varenicline was the next most commonly used pharmaceutical at 11% and nicotine gum at 10%.

Observational research in remote Northern Territory communities, found that following recommended treatment for using NRT (compliance) can be limited by factors such as:

  • difficulties maintaining NRT supplies in remote areas
  • individuals running out of patches because they share with other family members
  • cost, particularly for forms not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

However, observation of the successful delivery of NRT in one community by a public health nurse showed how compliance improves when regular support and counselling is provided: NRT was supplied in one week blocks with face-to-face follow-up every week at the client’s home. There is also evidence from the

 that combining NRT with intensive counselling and support is effective even in remote settings.

This suggests that focusing on increasing compliance is likely to improve quit attempts. This can be done through:

  • greater discussion around NRT options (e.g. gum, patches or combined therapy)
  • including patients in the decision process
  • providing appropriate regular support.

Other activities to increase the use of NRT in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke to quit are:

  • providing better information about NRT to the community
  • including access to NRT as part of a broader tobacco control program.

Another program which demonstrates the effectiveness of a comprehensive service for supporting quit attempts is the

 smoking cessation program based in ACT. The program combines weekly support groups, access to NRT (through a GP), phone follow-up, and home and workplace outreach (see Box 1).

Box 1: Violet Sheridan and No More Bundah
Violet Sheridan has been an Aboriginal Health Worker at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Health Centre, an Aboriginal Health Service in the Australian Capital Territory, working within a substance abuse project. She has also smoked for most of her teenage and adult years. Seeing her mother-in-law struggle with the effects of emphysema, and similarly experiencing trouble with her own breathing, she decided to take advantage of the No More Bundah program offered by Winnunga Nimmityjah. No More Bundah is an eight-week quit program run by Winnunga that promotes smoking cessation through the use of counselling and group meetings, together with a free two-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy. Violet felt that the initial support provided by the nicotine patches made the difference this time in giving up smoking. Her body no longer craved the nicotine in cigarettes, which in turn made it easier to change her impulse to reach for a cigarette out of habit. ‘When I felt like I wanted a cigarette I knew it wasn’t my body needing the cigarette it was just my mind. So I’d tell myself to wait a couple of minutes or go and have a glass of water, and the urge would have gone’. It is this change in her behaviour around smoking that Violet feels is the key to her successfully giving up. Even though she is with people who smoke all the time she is able to modify what she does when the urge strikes. Even when she no longer attended the support groups, Violet was able to apply the skills that she had learned to get through those times when temptation—or simple habit—would have otherwise weakened her resolve. Now Violet is feeling the benefits of being smoke free for ten months. Her sense of smell and of taste have returned and her energy level has increased so that she is now able to go for long walks. Her doctor has told her that her heavy cough, a result of thirty-seven years of smoking, will take a little longer to clear but her breathing has improved remarkably. Asked what she would say to anyone considering giving up smoking, Violet said: ‘Have a go and just don’t give up hope. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it took me twenty attempts, but I did it with the help I got through No More Bundah. All my friends and family are really proud of me’.Material adapted from:

Further reading

Social media and social networking

Social media and social networking tools such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are increasingly being used to help tackle smoking, particularly with young adults. One of the advantages of these platforms is that they are accessible, low cost and familiar to young people. About 15 million Australians are active users of Facebook – around 63% of the total population.

Research by the McNair Ingenuity Research Institute in 2014 found that Facebook is a popular means of communication among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to this study (which is ongoing), even in remote communities use of Facebook is higher than in mainstream Australian society.

The use of Facebook and Twitter as a way of communicating is a popular approach for many healthcare services. However the value of these tools seems to lie more in their networking functions. Social media is interactive and user-driven, meaning it has the potential to provide real-time peer to peer support and discussion around tobacco use.

There is currently a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of using social media in tobacco control. Studies that do exist tend to be descriptive, with a focus on the acceptability of the medium to support quitting, or an analysis of posts. A recent study from Canada provides some support for the use of social media for extending the reach and impact of more traditional smoking cessation approaches among young adults who smoke. The study found that young people engaged through social media were more than twice as likely to have made a successful quit attempt three months into the campaign than those not on social media and using on-line support only.

The NBPU have produced a Key facts about social media factsheet and infographic that provides key information for TIS workers about using social media to communicate messages about smoking.


A bespoke online social media training course has been developed for the TIS workforce by Claudine Thornton Creative. You will learn about marketing terminology and consumer behaviour tactics. Understanding how marketers use emotion over logic in promoting cigarettes, means you can use the same tactics to persuade people to be smoke-free. The course focuses on how to use emotional availability to reverse engineer tobacco marketing. The course lasts around one and a half hours and comprises seven modules each split into 5-10 minute segments. So you can complete it in one go, or in short pieces. The course is free to access, simply open this link and then click the ‘Enroll for free’ button.

Menzies School of Health Research has produced a tips and tricks resource for people working in health promotion and tobacco control, Social media in health promotion and tobacco control: tips and tricks. An accompanying PowerPoint presentation, Can Facebook help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking? is also available.

Further reading

Mass media and social marketing

Mass media and social marketing campaigns aim to reduce the number of people who smoke by changing attitudes, beliefs and intentions surrounding tobacco use. Mass media campaigns take a traditional marketing approach to this aim, treating the desire to be smoke-free as a product to be sold. In contrast, social marketing uses knowledge of specific community barriers to develop more targeted marketing approaches.

Both approaches use education about the negative consequences of smoking and the benefits of not smoking for two purposes:

  • to prevent the uptake of smoking (particularly in young people)
  • to promote quit attempts in people who currently smoke.

It is thought these campaigns help to prevent smoking by changing people’s expectations toward smoking, so that tobacco use is no longer accepted as the ‘usual, cool or necessary thing to do.’

A 2021 publication from the Mayi Kuwayu study showed that education provided by the TIS program has changed awareness and understanding of the impact of smoking on long term health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. We know that negative attitudes towards smoking are an important precursor to smoking behaviour change. Anti-smoking attitudes are more likely to lead to quit attempts, and to successful long term smoke free living.

There is evidence that both mass media and social marketing campaigns can help prevent smoking from starting, encourage people to stop smoking, and prevent relapse among recent quitters by reminding them about why they chose to stop smoking. However one of the biggest effects is in relation to promoting access to cessation support services such as Quitline, counselling and other health professionals. Developing capacity to support people who are ready to quit – by taking the systems approach described under Planning, is therefore essential if programs are to be sustainable.

A campaign’s impact is influenced by:

  • repetition – the more often the messages are heard, the more likely they are to sink in
  • reach – how far the messages are spread, how large the audience is
  • intensity – how regularly the messages are heard
  • how long the campaign is – it needs to be long enough for all target audiences to have heard the message but not so long that they get sick of it and tune out.

The relevance of the message has been found to be important for audience engagement. The context, characters and role models used in advertising or community activities must seem believable, if people who smoke are to connect to them. When a campaign does not relate to how people see themselves, they find it hard to become interested in the content. While there is some evidence that mass media campaigns do influence attitudes and beliefs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in regard to smoking, more specific local messages tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seem to be most effective. Evidence from the

project also supports the importance of using targeted advertising.

The Australian Government’s Don’t Make Smokes Your Story campaign is a good example of how advertising and community-based activities can work together to encourage behaviour change among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke. You can adapt and use these materials and resources for your own activities.

Further reading



Reducing second-hand and third-hand smoke

Reducing second-hand and third-hand smoke is an important aim. This is because second-hand and third-hand smoke can be very harmful. The evidence also shows that if smoking is seen as ‘normal’ at a community level, young people are more likely to start smoking, and people who currently smoke will find it harder to quit. Increasing the extent to which a community is smoke-free is associated with less smoking and more success in quitting. A 2021 publication from the Mayi Kuwayu study showed that areas of Australia where the TIS program is present, compared to non-TIS areas, have a significantly lower prevalence of smoking inside households.

Relevant activities include the following:

Developing smoke-free policies in the workplace

To be successful, smoke-free policies need community participation – not just consultation – in their development. Policies that have local ownership and commitment are more likely to be followed. There is also evidence that introducing smoke-free policies in the workplace can lead to increased support for smoke-free spaces in other areas such as smoke-free homes and cars. Successful smoke-free workplace policies also result in more workers wanting to quit.

Combining locally owned smoke-free policies with access to quit support services increases the success of these policies.  Working in an environment with a smoke free policy can also encourage individuals to quit.

Here are some quick tips on setting up a smoke-free environment: How to set up a smoke free environment.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of New South Wales provide a good set of resources to help you support workplaces to set up smoke-free policies. The second module, Workplace smoking policy in the

provides: advice on how to begin the process; templates for worker consultation; and templates to assess how much smoking happens at work.

Supporting smoke-free homes and cars

Second-hand and third-hand smoke is a health risk factor, particularly for children.  Children are at greater risk for a number of reasons, including their size, faster breathing rates and less developed respiratory and immune systems. Second-hand smoke is associated with a number of childhood illnesses including:

  • asthma
  • croup
  • bronchitis
  • bronchiolitis
  • pneumonia
  • ear, nose and throat infections.

Second-hand smoke is also believed to contribute to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Less well known, but probably just as harmful is third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is the tobacco smoke toxins from second-hand smoke that get into people who smoke’s hair and clothes and build up on surfaces and dust in areas where people smoke. Evidence shows that these toxins stay in homes and cars for a long time after the cigarette has been extinguished, even several months later. They may even become more toxic over time.

Third-hand smoke is an emerging area of research and we don’t yet understand all the health hazards. However, children (especially infants), are more vulnerable to third-hand smoke toxins. This is because infants crawl over contaminated floors and mouth contaminated surfaces like furniture and toys. We also know that infants consume up to a quarter of a gram of dust every day. That’s twice as much as adults.

There is good evidence that having a smoke-free home and car improves children’s health. There is also some evidence that keeping the home smoke-free helps to prevent uptake of smoking by young people. There are therefore many good reasons to support people to have smoke-free homes and cars.

recent review found that intensive counselling methods or motivational interviewing with parents to be most effective for reducing children’s tobacco smoke exposure in the home. There is some indication that school-based education, intensive home visits, brief education provided to parents in clinics (including scheduled children’s health checks) and culturally sensitive health promotion brochures may also help reduce second-hand smoke in the home and car.

Menzies School of Health Research has developed Healthy starts: reducing the health effects of smoking around Indigenous babies and childrena resource to support health providers when discussing second-hand tobacco smoke with families, and to encourage families to have smoke-free homes.

Running smoke-free events

Any opportunity to reduce second-hand smoke is a good investment because there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and smoke-free events both denormalise smoking and encourage people to think about quitting. Furthermore a recent survey, Talking About The Smokes (TATS) found that support for smoke-free festivals and events is strong in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly among those who don’t smoke: for people who have never smoked, support was 71%, for ex-smokers 65%, and for people who do not smoke daily 70%. Half of all people who smoke daily were in favour of smoke-free events (51%).

Smoke-free pledges

Pledging to be smoke-free demonstrates an active commitment and motivation to change. Evidence shows that when someone makes a public declaration (pledge) they are more likely to follow through with that promise, both for themselves, but also because of what others might think of them if they don’t maintain their promise. We also know that people are more likely to stick with a commitment that has real value, purpose and meaning to them.

Smoke-free pledges are a good population health promotion tool because:

  • group pledges (e.g family, organisation or community) seem to be more effective than individual ones – this is probably because of the social support that a group pledge provides
  • pledges can be linked to any environment – e.g smoke-free workplaces, smoke-free homes
  • pledges can be used as a part of different activities – e.g at community events and workplace education sessions
  • as well as supporting behaviour change, pledges can be used to monitor an activity’s reach and impact.

Further reading

Monitoring and evaluation

How will you determine if your program is working? This section will provide you with the tools to monitor and evaluate your programs.

Monitoring and evaluating your project

The processes of monitoring and evaluation use carefully planned and well-thought-out methods to measure the success of a project (or program) in meeting its goals. They are an important part of the project management process, because they provide:

  • evidence of what is working
  • guidance on what could be done better, which can be used to improve your project’s performance (progress towards and achievement of results)
  • a check on whether you are meeting your project aims
  • feedback to everyone involved in the project, including community members and partner organisations
  • compliance with funding body reporting requirements.

Key terms used when talking about monitoring and evaluation are shown in Box 1.

Box 1: Monitoring and evaluation key terms

  • performance: what the project is achieving (observable results)
  • measurement: how we determine the impact of a project or program on intended outcomes (e.g. using a questionnaire to find out how many people have smoke-free homes or conducting interviews to find out how people keep their homes smoke-free)
  • indicator: measures that show the extent of progress toward outcomes, especially differences in the lives of the people the project is working for
  • data collection: process used to gather evidence (e.g. giving smoke-free event participants a questionnaire survey)
  • output: what the project is producing with its resources (e.g. a specific activity, product or service)
  • outcome: results and impacts of the project (e.g. a percentage reduction in smoking, a change in behaviour).

Monitoring and evaluation are related processes, but each has a different focus:

  • monitoring provides the organisation and key stakeholders with early indicators of progress, and usually focuses on project outputs (the activities that a project has delivered)
  • evaluation systematically assesses progress towards achieving outcomes.

Table 1 provides examples of different outputs and outcomes for the TIS program. Monitoring outputs relies on describing and counting project activities and the number of people who come to events. In the past TIS reporting focused only on what is included in the outputs column – ‘what we do and who we reach.’ Now, however, you are being asked to think more about ‘what difference do our activities make?’ This is a question about your project outcomes.

Table 1: Examples of outputs and outcomes for TIS

Outputs Outcomes

Smoke-free workshops delivered to 100 workers in 10 community organisations

85 workers have increased knowledge of benefits of smoke-free workplace and increased commitment to being smoke-free at work

 8 Organisations are smoke-free

Brief intervention training provided to all staff (N=20) in TIS-funded organisation

20 staff have increased skills to support TIS activities

Most staff describe increased confidence when working with community members

You can find out more about the ‘how, who and what’ of TIS project evaluation in Box 2.

Box 2: The how, who and what of evaluation

How to plan an evaluation?

It’s a good idea to work out an evaluation plan for your project, so you can keep track of the evaluation. In your plan consider the following points:

  • What are the reasons for evaluating your project?
  • Who will read or listen to your evaluation?
  • What sort of resources will you need for your evaluation?
  • What are your evaluation questions?

Who will do the evaluation?

Work out who will be responsible for organising and writing up the evaluation.

Who should participate in an evaluation?

Good evaluations involve those who are interested and affected by your project. Involving people from the earliest stages of the project’s development to the final evaluation can encourage local communities to set up, control and own a project. Putting together a working group (a group appointed to study or report on a particular question) of community members also helps the evaluation process. A working group brings the values and shared interests of the community into the process. Often they are also the ones who are best placed to talk about the needs of their community.

What should you evaluate?

What aspect of the project do you want to evaluate? For example, do you want  to know if the project’s objectives were met? Or do you want to know what people liked about the project? There are lots of evaluation questions you could use. Examples of the sorts of questions you might use to answer different questions are provided in the 


What sort of resources will you need for your evaluation?

Be realistic about what resources are available to undertake the evaluation. This includes funding, time, staff, salaries, material, equipment and operating costs.

Source: material adapted from Kruger K, McMillan N, Russ P and Smallwood H (2007) Talkin’ up good air: Australian Indigenous tobacco control resource kit. Melbourne: Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Tobacco Control


Or for a more in-depth general discussion of behaviour change evaluation and definitions of some other terms used in monitoring and evaluation, you might find the Evaluation toolbox useful.

When should I think about monitoring and evaluation?

Monitoring and evaluation should be built into your project from the start. It is also a requirement of TIS program funding to measure your outcomes every six months for Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) grant agreement progress reporting. The

 developed by HealthInfoNet on behalf of the Australian Government (2012), describes a simple six step process to building evaluation into a project plan:

    1. Plan the project – what do you want to achieve, who do you want to involve, what will you do and how will you do it?
    2. Plan an evaluation – decide and consult about what you will measure, identify key questions, identify local sensitivities, identify good processes, and allocate necessary resources.
    3. Design the evaluation – decide on the methods you will use to collect the information you want, such as counting how many attend a smoke-free community event (output), giving out a short questionnaire asking what people thought of the event, and whether those who attended learnt anything about smoking harms, benefits of quitting, or quit support available (outcomes).
    4. Collect and record your information – do this systemically to get a true picture of what your project is achieving.
    5. Analyse your information – see if the program is achieving what you intended, or whether are are any unexpected outcomes, identify the lessons to learn. Decide if you need to make any changes to your project to keep on track.
    6. Provide feedback on your findings – let the people involved in the project such as the community, your organisation and the participants know about what was achieved.

Examples of ways to present your data using charts and dashboards for good visual impacts can be found in this monitoring and evaluation resource or on the Resources to monitor and evaluate your program page here.

Figure 1: Keeping your project on track



Figure 1 shows how monitoring and evaluation forms a central part of your project. You can use the information that you collect to make sure activities are on track and that you are achieving the outcomes you intended, adapting and improving your project as you go. This process of using monitoring and evaluation data to improve your project or activities as you go is known as continual quality improvement (CQI). For support in undertaking CQI, you can download Reach, implementation, satisfaction and effectiveness (RISE): a tool for supporting CQI for TIS. If you are working in a clinical setting you might be interested in the

developed by Menzies School of Health Research in association with One21Seventy. More tips for how to use monitoring and evaluation data are provided in Box 3.





Box 3: Using monitoring and evaluation data

Projects do not always run as planned or as expected, and are a learning experience for all those involved. Monitoring your activities and evaluating outcomes will help you keep track of progress, identify important changes and make it easier to see what you have achieved.  Answering the following questions may help keep your project on track:

  • What do the early results mean in terms of what you are trying to achieve?
  • Should you be changing the way you are doing things?
  • How do you continue the positive changes you are achieving?
  • Are you doing things in the best possible way?
  • Are you talking to the right people about the progress of your activities?
  • Are you making progress, making a difference?

Source: adapted from Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (2012) [2]

[1] This material is used with permission from the Commonwealth of Australia. Talkin’ up good air contains materials that were contributed by Quit Victoria (Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria), Apunipima Cape York Health Council, National Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Division), Council of Social Services of New South Wales and Queensland Health and which remain their property.

[2] Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (2012) Healthy, Deadly and Strong: Healthy Lifestyle Worker Toolkit. Perth, WA: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet




This section will provide you with tools and resources to plan and support your tobacco control activities. Click on the links below for more information.

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Choosing evidence-based activities

Once you have decided what you want to accomplish through your program, you will need to choose activities that will help you to achieve these aims. It is important that Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) activities are effective for achieving the proposed outcomes of the TIS program (e.g. increasing awareness of the benefits of not smoking, more smoke-free environments, increased quit attempts, reduced uptake of smoking). The best way of ensuring that an activity is effective is to use ones which have been tried and tested, so we have evidence that they work. It is also important that you choose the right activities for your local population needs and your local community context. Your role is to use your understanding of the communities in your region, your professional experience and expertise, along with your knowledge of the evidence to put together a suitable set of activities.

Population health promotion

The TIS program uses population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. TIS is a tobacco control program, not a smoking cessation program. It aims to reduce smoking prevalence by preventing the uptake of smoking, as well as encouraging people who smoke to quit. Regional Tobacco Control Grant (RTCG) teams are funded to provide community outreach, rather than clinical individual level action to improve the health and wellbeing of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Click on the image on the left to read about the principles of population health promotion that should underpin all of your TIS activities.



What do we mean by evidence?

Evidence is the information or knowledge about ‘what works’ which can help you decide which activities you will use. Evidence comes from many different sources including published research, and many professionals value this kind of evidence the most. However published research about TIS activities is not always available. Local evidence that an activity works also has an important role to play in the development of TIS activities.

Figure 1: Using the evidence to develop locally relevant services

This is one reason why the careful monitoring and evaluation of local activities is an essential part of the TIS program. Collecting accurate and thorough local data will help you to see what works best and this information can then be used to improve your activities. You can also share this with other TIS-funded organisations and contribute to the evidence on what works for TIS.

Sometimes collecting data can be challenging – the number of participants in a program may be small, or it may be that it can take a long time to see changes in smoking behaviour in the wider community. The NBPU TIS can support teams to address these and other challenges in order to develop the evidence base for TIS.

It is important to remember that the evidence does not provide a set of fixed solutions (it is not a ‘recipe book’). It is one element in an ongoing process. Your decision making will draw on your professional expertise about TIS and the local community with the evolving local and research evidence to develop a locally relevant service (Figure 1).


What is the current best evidence to support the reduction of tobacco use?

Stopping smoking by people who currently smoke is the best way of reducing tobacco-related harm. Individuals may make several quit attempts before successfully stopping smoking for good. This is why health promotion activities and community development to support quitting are so important; it’s about continually reminding people of the importance of quitting and informing them about where to get help. It is important that as well as providing education about tobacco harms, organisations providing health promotion activities are able to refer people who want to quit to smoking cessation support services. Being part of a wider health service system or network is therefore essential for TIS teams.

Evidence from a large-scale cohort study recently showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in TIS-funded areas were more likely to be smoke free at home, to smoke less tobacco and show lower rates of nicotine dependency compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who lived in non-TIS areas.

Further reading