This research generally suggested that in most locations Indigenous and non-Indigenous IDUs tend to mix freely and that there are many similarities between them. However, the particular circumstances of Indigenous IDUs need to be understood in the context of broader patterns of social and economic disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

Some of the NSP staff members consulted in Perth, for example, believed that while there were considerable numbers of white middle-class IDUs who were comfortably off and had 'plenty of social support', Indigenous IDUs were likely to be more marginalised and disadvantaged, living in less stable circumstances, less well-informed, and at greater health risk. They had fewer resources at their disposal, and were less likely to be in a position to take a long-term perspective on their own health and welfare. Overcrowded housing conditions meant that Indigenous IDUs might have little privacy and therefore find it more difficult, for example, to keep clean needles on hand. An experienced Adelaide worker reported that Indigenous IDUs tended to present with 'more complex needs and issues', including possibly homelessness and 'dislocation from family, community and culture'. Some stakeholders made the point that disadvantage and marginalisation could be both a trigger for drug use in the first place, and also a factor in unsafe injecting behaviour.

The fieldwork pointed to a number of issues - discussed in the following subsections - that are particularly common or significant for Indigenous IDUs.

3.2.1 Stigma, shame, anonymity

3.2.2 Indigenous-friendly services

3.2.3 Views within communities and in the Indigenous health sector

3.2.4 Young drug users

3.2.5 Supporting access by women

3.2.6 Different types of service

3.2.7 Resources

3.2.8 Urban, regional and rural locations

3.2.9 Good practice