Quit smokingQuit Victoria, Thorne Harbour Health and Melbourne Queer Film Festival were presented with a 2019 VicHealth Award for their work in supporting the LGBTIQ+ community to become smokefree.

Held annually, the VicHealth Awards are the state’s highest accolade for health promotion, celebrating organisations working to create a healthier Victoria.

The Quit Victoria, Thorne Harbour Health and Melbourne Queer Film Festival project took out the award in the Preventing Tobacco Use category for their work in raising awareness of high smoking rates in the Victorian LGBTIQ community and empowering the community to make positive changes.

Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said the Quit team was thrilled to receive the award alongside two dedicated organisations promoting wellbeing in LGBTIQ communities.

“LGBTIQ communities are likely to experience a higher health, social and financial burden with smoking rates nearly three times higher than the national average. It was important that Quit partner with the LGBTIQ sector to start a conversation with LGBTIQ communities and ensure members who smoke are given the support they need to become smokefree”, Dr Sarah White said.

Thorne Harbour Health Chief Executive Officer Simon Ruth was also delighted with the award.

“Thorne Harbour Health’s partnership with Quit Victoria and Melbourne Queer Film Festival recognises a shared goal of reducing the impact of smoking in our communities. The initiative takes a comprehensive approach, including community engagement and co-design activities and service delivery change to ensure LGBTIQ community members get the support they need. The partnership demonstrates that with shared leadership and expertise, people can be supported to become smokefree.”

A key component of the initiative, according to Melbourne Queer Film Festival Chief Executive Officer Maxwell Gratton, was to provide emerging creatives the opportunity to produce short films highlighting the impact of smoking on LGBTIQ communities and to create relevant messages to change attitudes to smoking.

“Our unique short film competition, now in its second year, has given people the opportunity to have their work shown before every screening at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. To have also received a VicHealth Award acknowledging this work is very exciting.”

More information about the ‘Supporting LGBTIQ communities to become smokefree’ initiative can be found in the VicHealth Awards Finalist Gallery here and at quit.org.au/lgbtiq.

For more quitting advice, visit quit.org.au or call the Quitline on 13 7848. As part of this award-winning work, Quit counsellors have been trained to deliver smoking cessation advice to the LGBTIQ community in a culturally appropriate and accessible way. Quitline counsellors offer personalised, empathetic and non-judgemental support throughout a person’s quitting journey.