Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal Women in New South Wales Non Government Organisation (NGO) Drug and Alcohol Treatment and the Implications for Social Work: Who Starts, Who Finishes, and Where Do They Come From?

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Abstract

Limited access to care is frequently identified as a reason for poor health in Indigenous communities. This study aimed to identify the proportion of Aboriginal women accessing mainstream non government organisation (NGO) drug treatment in New South Wales (NSW) compared to non Indigenous women. Statistical analysis of two NGO subsets of the Australian Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset (AODTS-NMDS) for years 2005 to 2007 was conducted. A statistically significant relationship was found between gender and Indigenous status (' 2=4.582, df=1, p=.001) in the two stages of analysis. Among NSW Aboriginal people who have accessed episodes of drug and alcohol treatment in the NGO sector, there is a significantly greater proportion of females versus males (37%F vs 63%M, n=3,080 episodes) compared to the non Indigenous service users (29%F vs 71%M, n=21,791 episodes). Aboriginal women are more likely to be referred from criminal justice settings. However, both groups of women complete treatment at the same rate. Treatment providers' perceptions of their inability to successfully intervene with Aboriginal women may be a barrier to treatment. Agency client data should be examined for both race and gender details before treatment providers decide if what they supply is accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. This study demonstrates the importance of using evidence rather than assumptions about access to and effectiveness of service provision to Aboriginal women. Analysis of agency, State, and national datasets can inform policy and practice evaluations. Social workers can then support a more hopeful future for Aboriginal women, families, and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Social Work
Volume64
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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