Methadone, Counselling and Literacy: A health literacy partnership for Aboriginal clients

Stephen Black, Anne Ndaba, Christine Kerr, Brian Doyle


Abstract

This paper describes a literacy program delivered at the Kirketon Road Centre (KRC), a primary health centre located in Kings Cross, Sydney. KRC was established to meet the health needs of ‘at risk’ young people, sex workers, and people who inject drugs. The literacy program was initiated from within an Aboriginal health group at KRC, following a request from clients in the group. A teacher from Tranby Aboriginal College delivered the literacy program one afternoon every fortnight over a period of approximately one year. This paper is based on recorded and transcribed ‘reflection’ discussions undertaken over several months between the literacy teacher, a KRC counsellor and the researcher immediately following the literacy sessions. Of particular interest is the nature of the literacy program and its pedagogical approach which is based largely on the delivery of popularly themed worksheet exercises. These activities represent in some ways an approach to adult literacy education that we term ‘autonomous’, that is, as a single set of skills generalisable to other life contexts. This pedagogical approach, however, needs to be understood in relation to the social capital outcomes of the course which take into account the complex and varying relationships and networks of the client group. The real value of the course can be seen largely in terms of the social capital outcomes for individual participants.

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