'Hero to Healing' drink driving program for Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland

Michelle S. Fitts, Gavan R. Palk

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Issue addressed: Alcohol-related road crashes are a leading cause of the injury burden experienced by Indigenous Australians. Existing drink driving programs are primarily designed for the mainstream population. The 'Hero to Healing' program was specifically developed with Indigenous communities and is underpinned by the Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA). This paper reports on the formative evaluation of the program from delivery in two Far North Queensland communities. 

Methods: Focus groups and semistructured interviews were conducted with drink driver participants (n≤17) and other Elders and community members (n≤8) after each program. Qualitative content analysis was used to categorise the transcripts. 

Results: The CRA appealed to participants because of its flexible nature and encouragement of rearranging lifestyle factors, without specific focus on alcohol use. Participants readily identified with the social and peer-related risk and protective factors discussed. Cofacilitation of the program with Elders was identified as a key aspect of the program. More in-depth discussion about cannabis and driving, anger management skills and relationship issues are recommended. 

Conclusions: Participants' recognition of content reinforced earlier project results, particularly the use of kinship pressure to motivate younger family members to drink drive. Study findings suggest that the principles of the CRA are useful; however, some amendments to the CRA components and program content were necessary. 

So what?: Treating drink driving in regional and remote Indigenous Australian communities as a community and social issue, rather than an individual phenomenon, is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of road-related injuries Indigenous people experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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