Indigenous Healthy Lifestyle Program Evaluation

Five organisations received funds from the Western Australian government to improve Aboriginal people’s health.  The organisations were based in some of the most under-serviced communities in the state. They were encouraged to work in partnership with Aboriginal people and other service providers to offer relevant and effective programs that addressed local priorities.

This flexible funding was known as the Indigenous Health Lifestyle Program.  Ann Larson led a team from the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (now WACRH) to evaluate the program.

Using a standardised qualitative evaluation tool developed for the project, evaluation teams visited each site — in most cases twice over two years.  Over 100 stakeholders were interviewed.

The findings highlighted the importance of establishing clear processes to develop a common vision, communicate and collaborate with partners, support community workers and integrate services.   Employment of committed Aboriginal community workers is vital but sustainable outcomes are unlikely unless management supports the workers to lead the programs.

Both the methodology and findings are relevant to other Aboriginal primary health care initiatives, especially those run by mainstream organisations.

Contact Ann to discuss how the methodology can be adapted to plan, monitor or evaluate a program in your community.

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    ann.larson [at] socialdimensions [dot] com.au peter.howard [at] socialdimensions [dot] com.au

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