'I still remember your post about buying smokes': A case study of a remote Aboriginal community-controlled health service using Facebook for tobacco control

Vicki Kerrigan, Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman, David P. Thomas, Marita Hefler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) embrace Facebook as an organisational tool to share positive stories, which counter the negative narrative surrounding Aboriginal issues. However, the Facebook algorithm prioritises posts on personal pages over organisations. To take advantage of the algorithm, this project paid three Yolu employees of a north-east Arnhem Land ACCHS to share quit smoking messages on their personal Facebook pages. Smoking prevalence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is nearly three-fold higher than non-Indigenous Australians, and previous research has identified the need for culturally appropriate communication approaches to accelerate the decline in Indigenous smoking. This research found Yolu participants nurtured healthy behaviours through compassionate non-coercive communications, in contrast to fear-inducing health warnings prevalent in tobacco control. Cultural tailoring of tobacco control messages was achieved by having trusted local health staff sharing, and endorsing, messages regardless of whether the content was Indigenous specific. This research also revealed online Facebook activity does not reflect the reach of posts, which may extend beyond social media users to individuals who do not have a Facebook profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A-F
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number5
Early online date8 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Cite this