Education and training of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the illicit drug field: a literature review

  • Research program: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: December 2001
  • Expected end date: June 2003
  • Completion date: July 2004
  • Funded by: Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council of SA
  • Lead organisation:

This literature review was part of a larger project being undertaken by the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council of South Australia to develop resources to enhance the education and training of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the illicit drug field. It provided a review of background materials to inform the development of training resources.

The review has identified the need for information currently available about AOD education and training for Indigenous workers to be translated into informed practice. This practice would include consideration of appropriate methods for delivering education and training and ways to overcome barriers to education and training for Indigenous workers.

It is widely accepted that the most important way to reduce barriers to education and training for Indigenous people is to adopt strategies that address the socio-economic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous people. This point is acknowledged both in the reviewed literature and in current national policy on Indigenous vocational education and training.

Evaluation of attempts to address more specific barriers to AOD education and training for Indigenous workers is a critical and complicated task that has often been neglected. Although it is not possible to make conclusive statements about what does, or does not work in addressing these barriers, a number of strategies have been proposed that appear likely to help overcome them and to improve the working conditions of Indigenous workers who undertake AOD work. These recommendations should take into consideration the following:

• training should demonstrate cultural competence and respect Indigenous ways of learning;

• the important issue of self-determination in Indigenous health care provision should extend to enabling of local communities to decide on course content and training delivery methods for Indigenous AOD programs;

• training should include flexible access, which has been recommended both as a response to the rural and remote nature of much Indigenous AOD work and as a response to Indigenous ways of learning;

• there needs to be improvements in student support services – which have been recommended as a means to attract people to the field, and to improve retention in training; and

• finally, and most importantly, appropriate training content clearly needs to be determined by the relevant Indigenous stakeholders, including Indigenous AOD workers themselves.

Of particular importance when considering strategies and recommendations are the reports from Indigenous frontline workers themselves. In several of the reports cited in this review, these workers acknowledge the need for improved access to education and training opportunities, including nationally accredited training and improved supervision and organisational support. These workers recognise the necessity for any information and training to be flexible in its delivery and presentation so that it can be adapted to the needs of their communities.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
  • Co-investigator: Benjamin Haines, Curtin University
  • Co-investigator: Sharyn Watts, Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA)

This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets:

Gray, D., Watts, S. and Haines, B. (2004). Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Training for Indigenous Workers: A Literature Review. Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council and National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Perth. ISBN: 1 74067 295 X [T132] Download PDF