Talking about smoking in East Arnhem Land
: denormalisation, stigmatisation and leadership in remote Yolŋu communities, a qualitative study

  • Moana Pera Tane

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    A qualitative study in East Arnhem Land (EAL), Northern Territory of Australia, was conducted with 22 Yolŋu participants in seven remote communities in EAL between June 2014 and September 2015, with the support of one female and one male Cultural Mentor.

    The research sought to determine whether tobacco-control efforts utilising denormalisation had resulted in experiences of smoking-related stigma, as an unintended consequence. The role of Yolŋu smokefree leaders in remote communities was also investigated and the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program, ‘Yaka Ŋarali’’ was evaluated to determine engagement and acceptance by Yolŋu smokers and their families.

    We found that the Yaka Ŋarali’ program had achieved significant impact and acceptance in the region, that there was strong smokefree leadership among Health Service employees and that despite the close traditional relationship with ŋarali’ [tobacco], Yolŋu were willing to participate and engage with denormalisation approaches, with little evidence of smoking-related stigma.

    All participants (community members and health staff, smokers and non-smokers) were concerned about protecting children from second-hand smoke, and wished to prevent their children and families from smoking. Tobacco Action Workers were considered the ‘right people with the right message’ to offer leadership about smoking and tobacco control. Yolŋu Health Workers regularly advised clients, family and community members to quit smoking, irrespective of their own smoking status. The study confirmed that some clinical consultations and interactions may have led to feelings of smoking-related shame among Yolŋu Health Workers who smoked, however a caring, trusting relationship with offers of help enabled the issue of smoking to be raised without causing shame. The study also confirmed that the Yolŋu did not wish to put aside their valued and traditional connection to ŋarali’ (tobacco), an important part of the sacred practices of funeral ceremony.
    Date of AwardApr 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Thomas (Supervisor) & Marita Hefler (Supervisor)

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