Background: Research reveals consistently higher injury rates amongst Aboriginal Australian children (AIHW: Pointer 2014). Intervention strategies for this population must be culturally appropriate and take into account a broad range of social, historical and cultural factors impacting on Aboriginal health and safety, however few culturally acceptable interventions have been developed or evaluated. We conducted an evaluation of a home visiting model of early intervention developed by the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service as an injury prevention program targeting disadvantaged Aboriginal families with children aged 0-5 and their families, in an urban region of NSW. Aboriginal family workers use a positive strengths-based model of service by conducting home visits and providing intensive family assistance to vulnerable families utilising a locally produced safety promotion package. The package is comprised of locally developed safety education materials, a booklet with local artwork and a kit of home-safety devices intended to prevent injury to young children.
Methods: The evaluation conducted between January 2014 and June 2015 included process, impact and outcomes components. Data collection included: routinely collected program data; semi-structured interviews with 35 individuals; and a family worker survey. All data was coded thematically and a framework analysis applied using NVivo software. Capacity building activities were conducted throughout the period.
Results: The Program addressed the need for a culturally appropriate and strengths-based safety program delivered by Aboriginal family workers to vulnerable families. Clients expressed great satisfaction with the family workers’ delivery of the program and the holistic model of service provision offered. Key results included: increased engagement in safety programs; improved child safety knowledge and skills; increased accessibility for parents/carers, children and families to services; improved attitudes to home and community safety; changes in the home safety environment. There were also reports of child injuries being prevented and indicators of changes occurring in home safety environment. The evaluation provided opportunities for collaboration between researchers and Aboriginal medical service and capacity building for the Aboriginal family workers.
Conclusions: The Safe Homes Safe Kids program offers a promising program for addressing unintentional injury to vulnerable Aboriginal children in urban areas