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Best practice in developing translated information: Developing a fact sheet on khat in Amharic, Oromo and Somali


In 2004, DrugInfo asked a range of workers and agencies working with clients from non-English speaking backgrounds about their information needs and what resources they were using in their work. The consultation revealed that workers were using a variety of resources to serve their information needs, but that they were concerned about the quality and appropriateness of some of these.

Of those resources that were considered particularly useful and accessible, the main reasons given were that they were presented in community languages and that they were culturally sensitive.

Ensuring that resources are culturally sensitive

At DrugInfo we provide alcohol and other drug information that is up-to-date, relevant and of a high standard. In expanding our information resources to include resources in languages other than English, we researched and followed guidelines for best practice. This document provides some information on the process and steps we took.


The following outlines the process used in developing a DrugInfo fact sheet and community service announcement on khat. We aimed to follow guidelines for best practice to ensure the information was accurate, culturally sensitive and the translation of a high quality.

The process has been documented here to serve as a guide for other services wishing to develop drug information in community languages.

1.   Need for information identified

  • A research study was undertaken in 2003 by the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit (VTPU) on the social and health effects of khat chewing in the Somali community in Melbourne.
  • This research clearly indicated a need for more community information on khat, including its legal status and social impact.
  • A survey of existing translated information revealed that no existing information on khat was available in community languages.
  • DrugInfo decided to develop a fact sheet in Amharic, Oromo and Somali—3 of the languages spoken in communities in which khat use is prevalent.

2. Community consultation held

  • A leader in the Somali community was consulted regarding the content of the khat fact sheet and appropriate means of disseminating information within the Somali community.
  • The Somali community leader and VTPU research indicated that ethnic radio was the most appropriate means for disseminating information, followed by written information.
  • Information for the fact sheet was derived from existing research on the health and social impacts of khat, findings from the VTPU study, and information gathered through the consultation with the community leader.
  • The fact sheet was then written in plain English by a professional writer at DrugInfo.
  • The fact sheet was edited and proofread professionally, to ensure that the language level was appropriate, the meanings clear and to eliminate any errors of grammar, punctuation or style.

3.  Information translated and independently checked 

  • A translating and interpreting service was contracted to undertake the translation and independent checking of the khat fact sheet into Amharic, Oromo and Somali.
  • Using an independent checker (that is, a second translator to check the first translation in each language) ensured a higher quality of translation.

4.   Focus tests held

  • The translated fact sheets were focus tested with community members to check that the language and meaning were clear and appropriate.
  • The translating and interpreting service organised and ran the focus groups and provided a report on their outcome.

5.  Fact sheet typeset

  • The translating and interpreting service was responsible for typesetting the fact sheet, based on the template for the English version.

6.   Audio announcement developed

  • A radio script in English was developed based on the khat fact sheet, and SBS radio produced this as a 7-minute community service announcement in Somali.
  • The announcement was broadcast on SBS Somali radio and made available to other community radio stations that broadcast in Somali.

7.   English version of fact sheet and audio script made available with translations

  • The khat fact sheets and audio file were sent to community leaders, ethno-specific organisations, ethnic media, community health centres and other organisations for dissemination and broadcast.
  • Information was made freely available and English versions always accompanied the translations.

Translated resources

For more information about developing translated material, see the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health webpage, 'Planning for translation'.

Last updated: 13 April 2016

Information you heard is intended as a general guide only. This audio is copyrighted by the Australian Drug Foundation. Visit for more