– The purpose of this paper is to improve current evaluation designs for Indigenous Australian residential alcohol and drug treatment centres, by understanding the context of treatment in this modified TC context. The aim of the research is to present an analysis of the key features of treatment associated with four Indigenous Australian alcohol and drug treatment centres, as expressed by staff working in these centres.
– Ethnographic observations were made at each site between 2008 and 2009 with the first author attending treatment groups, education sessions, staff meetings and other events. The first author conducted informal conversational discussions with all programme staff and board members. In addition, 23 staff and 15 board members participated in a semi-structured interview with an emphasis on gaining views on the essential elements of residential alcohol and drug treatment, potential barriers to effective treatment delivery and “what works” in residential treatment.
– A number of key themes emerged, including the importance of the flexibility of programmes to include a wide variety of treatment approaches, the importance of culture (although defined differently) in the delivery of appropriate service, provision of safe spaces that allow for clients and staff interaction, the potential for improvement in the provision of effective client case management, the need to reduce job-related stress through staff professional development and organisational culture change and the need to address the difficulties experienced in the provision of effective aftercare.
– Currently, there is very little evidence related to Indigenous Australian approaches to the treatment of alcohol and drug misuse. The paper contributes to the understanding of the key features of treatment delivery, as identified by staff employed in drug and alcohol residential treatment. This understanding is vital so that government agencies can provide appropriate funding to areas of need for treatment services.