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CAHMA Services Peer Based Representation


Peer Education

Peer education is fundamental to the work of drug-user organisations in Australia. It is one of the things they are well-placed, and eminently qualified, to do. Peer education and peer support methods recognise people's knowledge and skills gained from lived experience. This approach understands that people turn to their informal networks for support and in particular, seek peers who have direct experience and understanding of their issues.


Peer education and peer support have been shown to be effective as methods of HIV risk reduction among drug user communities in the Netherlands, the US, the UK, and in Australia. Accumulated evidence from more than 40 different studies using observational and quasi-experimental designs strongly indicates that outreach interventions using peers have been effective in reaching out-of-treatment IDUs and providing the means for effective behaviour change.


Peer education in all its forms represents a vast body of experience and practice that would be impossible to encompass in a single discussion. It is important to remember that the best peer education does not happen because organisations are funded to do it or because governments want it done; It happens in response to an identified need within user networks and among individuals.The forms that peer education takes can vary significantly from project to project, issue to issue, as circumstances and contexts differ from place to place, so do the needs of the people and networks that we work with.


A more in-depth discussion of peer-education can be found in AIVL's paper 'A Framework for Peer Education by Drug-User Organisations' .