Annalee Stearne

Research Associate and PhD Scholar, NDRI
April 2019
Each issue we ask someone from the alcohol and other drugs sector to share a little about their work and life.

This weekend I will... be celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday and the pending birth of another friend’s child. I will also be attending a memorial for the Christchurch massacre earlier in the month; this memorial will be led by the both the Nyungar and Maori communities in Perth. A weekend of reminding me about the fragility of life and making sure that those in my life are cherished.

I'd originally planned to work... as a high school history teacher, but the opportunities for history teachers were few and far between. I took a short-term contract while I looked for other work, and that’s how I ended up in the sector.

The qualities I most value in my colleagues are... compassion and integrity. So many of my colleagues approach their work with these values as, fundamentally, we are working in this sector to improve the health and wellbeing of others.

I'll never forget... abseiling down the side of Central Park tower in the Perth CBD (220m and 52 floors) as a storm-front was coming in! It was confronting and exhilarating at the same time.

For my next holiday... I am planning on visiting Vietnam and Cambodia with some friends. I’m looking forward to checking out temples around Siem Reap, taking a photography tour through southern Vietnam, and the food.

Career wise, I’m most proud of... the relationships, and seeing the work of Aboriginal community-based researchers. Working with Arrente researchers, and watching them undertake and have control of the research that affects their lives, remains one of the things I am proud to have been involved in.

My big hope for the drug and alcohol sector is... that Aboriginal communities become true and authentic partners in the research. That both Aboriginal and other vulnerable communities are given agency and decision-making power over their lives and health.

The sector's biggest challenge going forward is... always funding and capacity, no matter which area of the AOD sector.

Annalee Stearne

Annalee Stearne, a Nyungar woman from Western Australia, is a drug and alcohol researcher with a commitment to improving the health and social inequities faced by Indigenous Australian people, and empowering them with the knowledge to address alcohol and other drug issues in their own communities.

Between 2001 and 2016, Annalee was a researcher with the National Drug Research Institute’s Indigenous Australian research team, where her experience included spending three years in Alice Springs seconded to the Tangentyere Council's research hub. She has recently returned to NDRI to commence PhD research examining Aboriginal community-led responses to alcohol-related harms in the Northern Territory which is funded by the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol.

In 2006, Annalee was a member of the research team that won the National Drug and Alcohol Award for Excellence in Research, and a Curtin University Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence. In 2012, Annalee received the First People’s Award - recognising a substantial and practical contribution to the advancement of the health of Indigenous people – in the annual Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) Awards. Currently she sits on the board of the National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) and the board Palmerston Association (treatment service) where she advocates for Indigenous Australian interests.