The Victorian Premier’s Drug Prevention Council identified drug use prevention as a priority issue for Victorian Aboriginal (Koori) health over the next five years. To this end it commissioned a stocktake of drug prevention research as it applies to the Koori community.

The aim of this project was to assist with the establishment of a culturally sound research agenda aimed at preventing problematic drug use among Koori people. Hospital admissions related to drug treatment and rehabilitation programs were a key focus of the research. The conclusions reached were framed to assist the Council in its role in promoting culturally appropriate research that contributes to preventing alcohol and drug-related problems.

By developing a research agenda in collaboration with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Onemda, Vichealth Koori Health Unit at the University of Melbourne, the project also provided a strong basis for research transfer and capacity building.

The key project outcome was the identification of principles and directions for a research agenda, including:

  • The use of appropriate methodologies.
  • The involvement of, and role for, Indigenous people.
  • The formation of partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
  • The need to negotiate the application of policy to address local contexts.

The project also revealed a number of gaps in the research related to drug prevention, particularly studies that have evaluated strategies to prevent tobacco, alcohol and other substance abuse in Indigenous communities. Findings from the epidemiological profile and the review of the literature suggest that the following areas warrant further research and are likely to deliver the most effective gains in the short and longer term.


This is the most significant health issue for Indigenous Australians, particularly for adolescents and pregnant women. Research to help reduce smoking levels in these groups and to discourage passive smoking are likely to lead to improved health outcomes.


The results of this stocktake clearly suggest that future drug prevention research should focus on the area of binge drinking. Studies to determine the best ways to inform Indigenous women of the dangers of hazardous drinking and strategies to avoid it are likely to benefit both women and their babies.

Substance abuse

This stocktake raised serious concerns about the use of illicit drugs and other substances in Indigenous communities. However, insufficient data make it difficult to advise on further research in this area at this stage.

The research approach involved conventional literature reviews and the development of analytical methods and techniques. It also involved developing an analytical framework that was culturally appropriate and methodologically sound. The project team collaborated with the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre and VACCHO to achieve the project objectives. The research took place between June and December 2007.

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