Peer education is important because of the influence peer pressure and peer group behaviours have on individual decisions. Peer education is effective because peer educators can reach those who are not being reached by other means—they are also credible, trusted sources of information and support.12 Peer education encompasses a broad range of activities, including providing information, developing education materials, and empowering people to take positive action in their own lives and within their communities and networks. Peer education is conducted in one-to-one and group settings.

Peer education in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities—intrinsic to any health promotion activity—must be based on the best evidence of what is effective. The highest population priorities for health promotion and education in this strategy are those who are most at risk of acquiring HIV and hepatitis C.

Peer education has been fundamental to improving the distribution of injecting equipment and providing information to people with, or at risk of, hepatitis C infection. The range of peer education models requires further evidence to support their implementation within this vulnerable population in Australia, as there may be considerable variation in what works with whom and where.

Building the capacity to respond to the hepatitis C epidemic in Australia will require investment in training and support for peer educators, which should be accompanied by additional resources to strengthen, evaluate and promulgate good practice in peer education.13

Top of Page
12Wye SQ 2006, ‘A Framework for peer education by drug-users organisations’,
AVIL, Canberra.
13Griew R, Jackson N, Van Beek I, Maher L & Malcolm A 2008, ‘Review of Evidence on Interventions to Reduce the Incidence of Hepatitis C Infection’, New South Wales, Australia.