Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Marissa Ge­or­gopou­los

FE­MALE rugby league play­ers from the Mt Druitt area are tack­ling the is­sue of smok­ing among preg­nant indige­nous women.

Shocked by the num­ber of ex­pec­tant Abo­rig­i­nal moth­ers in west­ern Syd­ney who smoke – al­most one in two – the Red Belly Blacks team joined West­ern Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict’s Quit for New Life ini­tia­tive. Sport­ing the cam­paign’s logo at the re­cent Koori Knock­out, the team spoke to women at the car­ni­val and prior train­ing ses­sions about the im­por­tance of health.

“We got in­volved to get the mes­sage out, to reach out to young mums and peo­ple try­ing to quit smok­ing,” team man­ager Jenny Mur­ray, of Mt Druitt, said.

Ms Mur­ray, a nurs­ing stu­dent, said the team was pas­sion­ate about the is­sue. It was also close to home for the man­ager, who quit smok­ing eight years ago. She wanted to keep the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing to “break that cy­cle within my peo­ple and our com­mu­nity”.

Al­most one-third of indige­nous moth­ers at Black­town Hos­pi­tal smoke dur­ing their preg­nancy. In 2015 al­most 45 per cent of Abo­rig­i­nal mums-to-be smoked, while the rate for non-indige­nous mums was just seven per cent.

The Quit for New Life pro­gram of­fers coun­selling and free nico­tine re­place­ments.

West­ern Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict pop­u­la­tion health deputy direc­tor Chris­tine New­man said smok­ing while preg­nant con­trib­uted to an in­creased risk of com­pli­ca­tions such as spon­ta­neous abor­tion, still birth and SIDS.

Jenny Mur­ray (front) and the Red Belly Blacks.

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