• Open Access

Delivering culturally appropriate residential rehabilitation for urban Indigenous Australians: a review of the challenges and opportunities

Authors

  • Kate Taylor,

    1. Centre for International Health, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia and Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sandra Thompson,

    1. Centre for International Health, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia and Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Robyn Davis

    1. Centre for International Health, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia and Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • *

    Footnote: The term ‘Indigenous’ refers to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.

Correspondence to:
Kate Taylor, Indigenous Health Research Officer, Centre for International Health, Curtin University of Technology, Curtin Health Innovation and Research Institute, PO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845. Fax: (08) 9266 2608; e-mail: k.taylor@curtin.edu.au

Abstract

Objective: To review the challenges facing Indigenous and mainstream services in delivering residential rehabilitation services to Indigenous Australians, and explore opportunities to enhance outcomes.

Methods: A literature review was conducted using keyword searches of databases, on-line journals, articles, national papers, conference proceedings and reports from different organisations, with snowball follow-up of relevant citations. Each article was assessed for quality using recognised criteria.

Results: Despite debate about the effectiveness of mainstream residential alcohol rehabilitation treatment, most Indigenous Australians with harmful alcohol consumption who seek help have a strong preference for residential treatment. While there is a significant gap in the cultural appropriateness of mainstream services for Indigenous clients, Indigenous-controlled residential organisations also face issues in service delivery. Limitations and inherent difficulties in rigorous evaluation processes further plague both areas of service provision.

Conclusion: With inadequate evidence surrounding what constitutes ‘best practice’ for Indigenous clients in residential settings, more research is needed to investigate, evaluate and contribute to the further development of culturally appropriate models of best practice. In urban settings, a key area for innovation involves improving the capacity and quality of service delivery through effective inter-agency partnerships between Indigenous and mainstream service providers.

Ancillary