Take local action on climate change…we have to!

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Image via Richard Ling

In 2003-2004 I was involved in a mammoth task to explain to people – fishers, conservationists, tourism operators, the community – the benefits of increasing protection to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park through rezoning. This involved years of consultations, public meetings and ‘roadshows’, but in terms of achieving it’s outcome, it was a huge success. One of the biggest indicators of success was the understanding of the need for change in the community, leading to action by community groups, individuals and local businesses along the Queensland coast to do their bit to protect the Reef.

These actions included the set up of Reef Guardian Schools and businesses, Marine Advisory Groups and Community Access Points based at local bait and tackle shops. The general opinion was that no matter what industry you came from, the Great Barrier Reef was too important to lose.

In many places, it was community members – farmers, fishers, operators, conservationists and local leaders – who were driving change, recognising that harm to the Great Barrier Reef is not just an environmental issue, but that there is an economic imperative to protect one of Queensland’s most valuable assets.

The community is still driving this change, even in the face of complex science and resource and economic issues. So why is it so hard to engage people to support the world’s biggest environmental, economic and livelihood challenge – climate change? Continue reading

Learnings and preliminary case study on youth smoking behaviours

We have recently been involved in designing a social marketing campaign to help prevent the uptake of smoking by young Aboriginal people in Adelaide. It has been an excellent opportunity to work with our partners Winangali for local Aboriginal organisation – Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia – who are doing great work bringing positive change for healthy lifestyles to their community.

Don't let your dreams go up in smokes

During the research phase, we came across a number of interesting studies that helped us to understand the influences and uncover insights that informed the design of the campaign strategy. The literature also highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities facing behaviour change campaigns for young people.

What is Social Marketing?

The concept of social marketing is often confused with ‘social media marketing’, i.e. using social media as a tool to get messages out to an audience on social media.

When we use the term social marketing, it relates to using marketing strategies and concepts, backed up by research, to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for social good (not to say that social media can’t be used as part of this).

The idea is that the savvy (and scientific) techniques used by marketers to get you to buy their product can instead be used to support and enable people to make better choices for themselves – contributing to broader social, health and environmental outcomes.

Behavioural segmentation

Public awareness campaigns are an essential tool to communicate important messages to a broad audience that can change attitudes and behaviours.

In the case of smoking there has been enormous success in Australia and worldwide in reducing smoking rates using large-scale anti-smoking awareness campaigns, along with policy initiatives like restricting cigarette brand advertising and the act of smoking in public and common places. All of these strategies have succeeded by denormalising smoking in society in general.

These government-led anti-smoking initiatives and campaigns in Australia have been very successful at changing behaviours of the general population, with daily smoking rates declining at a steady rate from around 35% in 1980 to 15.1% in 2010.

However, they have been much less effective in reducing the rate of smoking among Australia’s Indigenous population. Smoking rates have declined in recent years (from 2002 to 2012 dropping from 49% to 41%), but the rate still remains at approximately two and a half times that of non-Indigenous people. Statistics also show that Indigenous kids take up smoking at an earlier age than non-Indigenous, and that over 60% of Indigenous households contain at least one smoker.  Continue reading