Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health
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Beyond Today...it's up to you

beyond today... its up to you logo

Beyond Today...it's up to you is a community-based social marketing campaign to promote tobacco cessation and healthy lifestyle behaviours among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of the ACT and surrounding regions.

The development of this campaign is a key component of the ACT Implementation Plan for the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Outcomes as well as our Implementation Plan for the national measure up campaign under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health. In 2008 the ACT Government made a commitment to reduce smoking rates which led to the development of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tobacco Control Strategy 2010-2014.

The campaign features local members of the community telling stories about their motivations to live a healthy lifestyle across a range of materials, including: posters, brochures, short videos and songs created and performed by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.


  • Media Release by Dr Chris Bourke, Member for Ginninderra, Monday 3 December 2012 - click here

Local Champions

  • Aunty Agnes Shea is a Ngunnawal Elder;
  • Benny Hodges is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descendant from Far North Queensland;
  • Roxy Brown is a proud Muruwari women from Brewarrin, NSW;
  • Aunty Agnes Shea, Chenisha Drazevich and Selina Walker are a proud Ngunnawal family from the ACT;
  • Dion, Dante', D'shonetea' and Sienna Devow descend from the Budda Budda Wadamai/Mambarra and Darnley/Murray Islands peoples;
  • Selina Walker is a proud Ngunnawal women;
  • Kiescha Jamieson is a proud Wongi Nyoongah/Pitjantjatjarra/Gommilliroi women;
  • Tiana Tembery-Thornton is a proud young Yuin women; and
  • Calvin Huddleston is a proud descendant of the Kalkadoon and Wiradjuri, Ngandi, Gurunji peoples.

Resource Materials

To watch the Beyond Today...its up to you album song, click here

To view the brochures, posters, please download the documents below.

Download: Beyond Today...its up to you - Brochures (Elder and Families) (PDF File - 1552k)
Beyond Today...its up to you - Posters (Elders, Families and Young People) (PDF File - 3241k)

To order resources, please download the documents below.

Download: Beyond Today...its up to you - Resource Order Form (pdf format) (PDF File - 537k)

Aunty Agnes Shea


My Grandfather started smoking at the age of 14 and smoked right up until he died, aged 103. I remember smoke then and they didn't smoke all day, just at the end of the day or as a relaxation.

My brother Jo was born partly crippled. He couldn't participate in sport. He really enjoyed smoking because it was one of the few social activities he could participate in. He got emphysema first then cancer of the lungs. Jo died a few weeks before his 17th birthday.
My youngest son, John, has smoked all his life. He liked working on farms. In his 40's he noticed darkness on one of his toes; it was gangrene. In 2001, aged 44, they cut off his leg just below the knee. In 2006, they cut off his other leg just below the knee. In 2008, they cut his first leg again above the knee. Back in 2007, doctors told him he had two days to live and that was a shock. But he keeps going in his wheelchair; he works on his cars. The family help him; the family is always working together. Most people assume he has diabetes, he doesn't. The blocked arteries were caused by smoking which led to gangrene and amputations.

I've never smoked; I don't see any reasons for smoking. It doesn't fill you, it doesn't quench your thirst and it's an unhealthy habit. Being an Elder, I have seen the long term impact that smoking has on people and their families. I wish it was never invented because of the misery it has caused financially, emotionally and with family tensions. I worry about the young people; there is a lot of peer group pressure on young people today to smoke.

Not smoking is a health choice that people do have. There is health and support within the community. I want to see young people achieve their dreams and lead a strong healthy nation-then they can show the way for upcoming generations.

Benny Hodges


I really enjoyed smoking cigarettes and cigars... I smoked two and a half packets a day.

Ten years ago I lost my Mum; I didn't realise the grief and loss would have such an effect on me and I guess I didn't want to read any warning signs like dizziness, shortness of breath and feeling like blacking out.

Three weeks after my Mum's passing, I had a massive heart attack. I remember seeing the light flickering at the end of the tunnel and thinking about my family. Who would look after and care for my wife and children? That is my responsibility. I believe that is what brought me back to the land of the living.

So there I was a few days later, laying up in the intensive care unit - which brought a sense of reality. If I want to look after my family, I need to look after my health and wellbeing and if that means giving up the smokes, then so be it.

Before the heart attack, I used to put my family as a second or third priority but now I put them as my number one priority. I consider myself as one of the lucky few, as a few of my mates and other people I know never got to have a second chance at life as I did.

I have chosen a healthy lifestyle so I can share this life with those I love and care about me and my family.

Roxy Brown


My Auntie was just beautiful; she was just like a movie star. She took care of me when I was a young toddler up until I was about 18 months old and then on and off over a number of years. She smoked cigarettes with one of those long holders; I think it was a cigarette holder.

Smoking was a glamorous thing, it looked so lovely. Somehow she never smelt of smoke.
During my teenage years I didn't want to have anything to do with smoking. I didnít want my hair smelling or to be mucked up with that smelly smoke. When I was 18 and doing my nurse's training, it seemed like everybody smoked. I can remember buying a gold cigarette origin lighter and a matching gold tin to put the cigarettes in and I just thought I was so glamorous. I bought a fancy packet of cigarettes and they had a gold ring around them and I couldn't wait to get back to my room to practice. I just thought I looked so glamorous, just like my Auntie. I hated the smell and the taste. I practised smoking and after a few weeks or so I was addicted.

My Auntie always had a cough; it developed into lung cancer. It was so horrible to watch someone so beautiful have such a slow long death. On her death bed she made me promise I would give up smoking.

I tried giving up for years and years it seemed and it took me 6 or 7 attempts; it was so hard. As part of my nursing career, I have seen people fight heroin, alcohol, all sorts of addiction but the battle with giving up smoking always seemed the greatest.

Stopping smoking takes strength and determination. Even though I haven't had a cigarette for 10 years, every day I remind myself that I can't have the first one. I am proud that I have given up smoking. I just love the fact that I can be a non-smoker and set that good example and keep that going for my kids and my grandchildren. I just feel happier every day that I am a non-smoker. Sometimes I can't believe it's me that done it!

Dion Devow


I was brought up in Darwin in a very disciplined household with strong Christian values and principles.

By the time I turned 14, I was over it all and wanted to do my own thing. Growing up in Darwin it wasn't abnormal for kids, 14, to be drinking alcohol, taking drugs and smoking cigarettes.

Like many other teenagers, I tried all these things and as a result became hooked on smoking.

Even though I was addicted and enjoyed smoking, I was always aware of the dangers of smoking and I knew that one day I would quit.

I obtained a university degree and established myself in the ACT. I was engaged to be married to a beautiful woman. One day I thought to myself, I'm 29 years old and I've already been smoking for 15 years. I want to have kids but if I continue to smoke I won't even be able to see them in their 20's.

I then made a conscious decision that I would give up smoking before my wife and I had children.

I didn't want my children to grow up in a household where they would be exposed to cigarette smoke or see a parent smoking.

It was hard at first and I tried many times but I succeeded. As well as giving up smoking I lost 20 kilograms and stopped binge drinking. I've tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle and I am still a little overweight but I know that I will now live to see my children's children and I know that this is a direct result of the fact that I have now not smoked for the past 11 years.

I have yearly Aboriginal adult health checks and look after my health as well as I can. I have many other goals to help me and my family to become more healthy. I'm so glad I gave up smoking, with a lot of help from the man upstairs. If I can educate my children by instilling in them good values and a healthy lifestyle, then I would have given them the best chance at succeeding and being successful in every area of their lives, and that makes me proud!

Dante Devow


My Dad used to smoke. He stopped when I was born. He stopped because he had kids.

If he smoked when I was born, I wouldn't be as healthy as I am now. Dad being healthy helps me be healthy. I play baseball and soccer, I play football and basketball for my school, and I eat lots of fruit which gives me more energy.

Smokes give people heart attacks, cancers and diseases. If people know what smoking does to them, I don't understand why they don't give up...I wouldn't want to try it. Most of my Aunties and Uncles smoke. It's good that my Dad doesn't smoke. We play in the backyard a lot, run around the park, and shoot hoops at the basketball courts.

Dad eats lots of fruit and goes to the gym every day. If he didn't do healthy things he would be really slow. Maybe I wouldn't have gone to all of my football games because he would just want to rest...boring! It's good to have a Dad who works out a lot. It's good that Dad gives us unhealthy food - sometimes. It's awesome that he takes us to a lot of places. We went to Sea World and Wet'n'Wild and Dreamworld on the Gold Coast; Dad joined in on everything. I want to go to the gym and lift weights when I'm older.

My cousin Patrick is the captain of the Australian Basketball Team. My other favourite Olympians are Bolt and Blake. I want to be an Olympian in weights, maybe swimming, running, basketball, maybe diving, or maybe tennis...

Chenisha Drazevich


I don't like smoke. Smoking is bad for your health. Half of my family smoke.

It's 2011 and my Dad gets very sick. He has open heart surgery and has a murmur, it's like an irregular heartbeat, and on top of that he has got emphysema. He goes into cardiac arrest, he dies for 10 minutes. Me and my older brother and sister are so upset. Now he is on heart tablets and he is sick. He has really bad coughs and he is breathless. He can't do a lot of things with us because he is sick.

I wish he could do normal Dad things like go to the movies and go on holidays. It's like there's a part of me missing. It's hard for me to tell him to stop smoking. I love my Dad!

For more information

  • Call Quitline on 13 7848. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counsellors are available;
  • Call Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service 'No More Boonah Program - Support Group' on 02 6284 6222;
  • Call Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation on 02 6296 8900;
  • Call the Get Heathly Service 'your personal coach' on 1300 806 258;
  • Visit the Medicare Local website on healthy lifestyle programs available in the ACT, click here;
  • Visit your local Child and Family Centre, click here;
  • Visit your local Health Centre or General Practice. Nictine Replacement Therapy (NRT) includes nicotine gum, patches, inhaler and lozenges. Patches are available free to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through your General Practice; and
  • Download My QuitBuddy app which is free on your iPhone, iPad or android phone click here.