The City of Whittlesea turned a legislated requirement to install 'no smoking' signs into an opportunity to strengthen health and wellbeing in the local Aboriginal community
In 2015, the Victorian State Government introduced new outdoor smoking laws banning smoking at all early childhood services and schools, and within four metres of the entrance to these locations. The laws require that ‘no smoking’ signs be installed at these sites.
Leveraging off these reforms, the City of Whittlesea worked with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service to develop an initiative in a local school. The initiative aimed at targeting tobacco use in vulnerable families and communities, creating supportive environments for good health in the places where children spend their time, and building resilience among primary school students about to head into secondary school. The selected school has high numbers of Aboriginal students, asylum seeker and refugee families, and is in an area at high risk of tobacco use.
The initiative was rolled out in three stages to approximately 100 students in years five and six. Stage 1 focused on tobacco use and the dangers of second- and third-hand exposure to smoke. Stage 2 concentrated on positive health behaviours, focusing on physical activity and traditional Aboriginal games. And Stage 3 drew on the earlier sessions to inspire and create 'smoke free zone' signs. To ensure the creation of lasting supportive environments, the tobacco reform initiative was closely linked to the Achievement Program and the benchmarks for tobacco and physical activity.
The end result of this initiative is an increased awareness of tobacco laws, over 50 student-designed ‘no smoking’ signs distributed across parks, indoor play centres and skate parks in the local areas, and a healthier school environment for vulnerable families and communities.
What are you and your organisation doing with initiatives to ban smoking at early childhood services and schools?
Submit your story!