OATSIH and other agencies have from time to time provided funding for the development and dissemination of printed materials designed to communicate with Indigenous Australians about hepatitis C and other blood borne infections, safe injecting and NSP services. Recently staff at DASSA in Adelaide have been working on hepatitis C resources specifically for Indigenous youth, while a Creole resource for use in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait has been developed through extensive consultation (it addresses HIV, viral hepatitis and common STIs). However, the study team's visits to a range of locations and services suggested that overall there is relatively little information currently available on such issues as hepatitis C prevention and safe injecting that is designed to cater for Indigenous Australians in particular, or to meet the needs of groups with limited English literacy.

People working in the NSP field expressed a range of views on the importance of brochures, pamphlets, posters and the like in relation to the needs of Indigenous IDUs. While some were anxious that appropriate and specific material should be readily available, others were concerned that 'producing more pamphlets' could be a trite response and a substitute for wrestling more actively with the problem. (One public servant, for example, indicated that she would be horrified if the present study resulted in recommendations for investing substantial time and resources in more printed materials.)

Three main issues were raised in relation to information material such as pamphlets and posters. First was the proposition that there was a need for resources that were culturally appropriate for various groups of Indigenous Australians – for example in terms of the graphics and terminology used. As noted earlier, the Condoman safe sex poster was often mentioned as an example of something that was clearly designed for and had been well received by an Indigenous audience. It was suggested that suitable resources on drug injecting and hepatitis C might be in story form, using people's 'own lingo' (eg the term 'goey' for speed). More remote or isolated communities were certainly said to need their own resources (Cairns IDU); some stakeholders (eg in Darwin) also saw a need for information presented in community languages.

The second point was that many Indigenous Australians may have a deprived educational background, limited cognitive skills and limited literacy. It was also noted that English might be a second or third language for Indigenous Australians – not only in remote areas but also in urban centres such as Darwin. Accordingly a need was seen for resources which effectively used pictorial information supported by very clear and simple language. Poor education, poor concentration and low literacy levels were said to demand 'a different approach', with less reliance on the written word. (The point was made that such materials could of course have value also for other clients who might have low English literacy.) In Far North Queensland a need was seen for appropriate and localised information materials. Some of the material produced in the south, said one worker, was 'just shocking' in that it was 'trendy', obscure and difficult to read, and thus unsuitable for many local clients. The Condoman poster was again cited as an example of a strong Indigenous resource, and Streetwize comics were mentioned as effective in communicating with young and/or less well educated groups.
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A third point was that the availability and display of Indigenous-specific materials sent an important signal that the service was aware of Indigenous issues and that Indigenous clients were expected and welcome.

One other issue that emerged from this research was that there may be certain educational messages that are especially relevant or important for Indigenous IDUs, and that can be communicated most effectively through purpose-designed resources. Given the points previously made about the pressure that Indigenous injectors may find themselves under to share their needles and other equipment, one clear example would be the message that sharing is not caring (a message that already appears in a pack of playing cards that has been developed as an Indigenous-specific drug and alcohol resource). Another matter that may deserve special attention in the context of Indigenous drug injecting is the issue of cleaning fits and the effectiveness or otherwise of this. It was clear from many of the discussions that took place during the study that there is a common belief that sharing needles is acceptable if there is some effort to clean them between users. If good practice requires 'every hit a new fit', Indigenous injectors in particular may need clear and consistent messages to this effect.