Karalundi is a small community 1000 kilometres northeast of Perth. The Karalundi Aboriginal Education Centre (KAEC) developed a Peer Support and Skills Training Program the aims of which were to increase student self-esteem and reduce drug use by means of a variety of strategies including provision of a supportive environment, improving communication between staff and students, developing leadership and communication skills, guiding students away from experimentation with drugs, early identification of personal and drug-related problems, and developing culturally appropriate health promotion media.
Staff designed their own evaluation strategy using qualitative data and a quantitative questionnaire developed for a similar project conducted among non-indigenous students in New South Wales. NDRI staff were asked to assist in the analysis of these data.
NDRI staff found that the results of the were compromised by problems with the evaluation design, with the inappropriateness of the Questionnaire, and because of the unsystematic nature of qualitative data collection. While the qualitative data suggested some positive outcomes of the program, on the basis of the data at hand it was not possible to formally demonstrate them.
While the results of the evaluation were inconclusive, this should not he interpreted as a failure of the program, but as a consequence of the design and implementation of the evaluation strategy. Through no fault of the community organisation which conducted the program the evaluation methods employed were technically, culturally, and financially inappropriate.
The problems identified were not unique to this particular program. They lay with the inadequate assessment of project and program proposals by funding agencies, and the lack of support provided to Aboriginal community-based organisations. A number of steps were proposed that could be taken to address those problems and, in so doing, could help to better identify strategies for promoting the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.