As a national centre, NDRI aims to maintain a strong presence outside Western Australia. In this context, and to facilitate some of the key research being undertaken by the Institute, in 2007 NDRI’s Melbourne office was established. Located with Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, the Melbourne office initially housed Ethnographic Research Program leader Professor David Moore and four PhD scholars. Over time the Melbourne team has expanded, and in 2013 Professor Suzanne Fraser established the Melbourne-based Social Studies of Addiction Concepts Research Program funded by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. The current NDRI Melbourne staff are Professor David Moore, Professor Suzanne Fraser, Dr Robyn Dwyer, Dr Anne-Marie Laslett, Dr Kiran Pienaar and NDRI Adjuncts Dr Kate Seear, Dr Cameron Duff and Dr Peter Higgs. The current PhD scholars are Adrian Farrugia, Renae Fomiatti, Aaron Hart, Elizabeth Normand, Eliana Sarmiento Guerra, Shelley Walker and James Wilson.
Lives of Substance
In 2014 NDRI’s Social Studies of Addiction Concepts (SSAC) research team began work on an innovative project that would underpin Australia’s first dedicated web site presenting personal experiences of people who consider themselves to have an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit. The groundbreaking Lives of Substance web site will offer new perspectives on people often dismissed or stigmatised as dysfunctional, dangerous or sick. Australian author Kate Holden has some experience of these reactions, and has written about them and about everyday life as a drug user, in her highly praised memoir, In My Skin. SSAC is very pleased that Kate has agreed to introduce the web site. As Kate explains:
“This initiative is very worthwhile and overdue. I am all in favour of anything that de-mystifies drug users, and admits that they are not really 'they' but 'us'.”
Launching in November this year, Lives of Substance will present individual stories, as well as key topics, via audio clips, re-enacted video clips and text extracts. The SSAC team hopes it will lend support to people who use drugs, inform visitors about the very many different life experiences, aspirations and plans of people who use drugs, and act as a resource and tool for professionals aiming to enhance their understanding of these issues and the people affected by them.
As project leader Professor Suzanne Fraser puts it:
“Drug use and addiction receives an enormous amount of media attention but most coverage tends to focus on extreme circumstances or is guided by common fears and misconceptions about people who use drugs and addiction. Australians need a broad, reliable and informed resource to turn to that can inform them about the many ways people live with drug dependence, and the challenges they face, including stigma and misunderstanding. This is our goal in creating Lives of Substance.”
Funded by an ARC Discovery grant, the project will conclude in early 2017. For more information about the study and to subscribe to a list for information about forthcoming project-related events, contact Dr Kiran Pienaar, project research associate: firstname.lastname@example.org