Evaluating government health and substance abuse programs for indigenous peoples: a comparative review
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This article originally published in Australian Journal of Public Health 1995 19(6) pp.567-572
Most health and substance abuse programs for indigenous peoples in Australia are funded by the government. Over the past decade there have been calls for greater accountability in the conduct of these programs. Initial attempts focussed on the development of standardised performance indicators, an approach that has been criticised on both political and methodological grounds. Recently, some government agencies have sought to identify culturally appropriate models for the evaluation of programs for indigenous peoples. In a comparative review of the evaluation of indigenous programs in Australia and Canada, conducted for the Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Department, the authors were not able to identify and generally applicable models. However,this literature review and our own research and experience in working with Aboriginal community organisations have identified some principles that should be an essential part of any attempts to evaluate health and substance abuse programs for indigenous peoples. Underlying these principles is the realisation that evaluation is not a politically or ideologically neutral activity.Theoretical and methodological considerations of the evaluation process must take into account the very real differences between the agenda of indigenous peoples and those who seek to evaluate programs for them.
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