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2023 NDARC Annual Research Symposium

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You can access all of the 2023 NDARC Symposium Recordings here. 

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney hosted 'The 2023 NDARC Annual Research Symposium on Friday, 27 October, showcasing the foremost research in the alcohol and other drugs sector and related fields. The face-to-face one-day event was held in Sydney at the UNSW Kensington campus, with selected sessions live-streamed.

The latest findings on a wide range of topics were covered including:

  • Trends in substance use, and the future of drug monitoring systems
  • Substance use and treatment in rural/regional Australia
  • Co-designed projects/partnerships
  • Illicit drug use and treatment
  • Commerce and health
  • E-cigarettes and vaping
  • The safety of quit smoking medications during pregnancy

This dynamic program featured international and national keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions and a networking event. It was facilitated by leading researchers, clinicians, and community leaders, providing guests with an information forum and an opportunity to network and collaborate. 

A number of presentations from the event are available below. The Symposium program, posters and abstracts are also available for download.


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Professor Rob Moodie

Rob Moodie is Professor of Public Health at the University of Melbourne and at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Malawi. He worked in refugee health in the Sudan, for the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Service (Congress) in Alice Springs and for many years HIV prevention for the Burnet Institute, WHO and the joint UN Program on AIDS. He was CEO of VicHealth from 1998-2007 and from 2008-2011 he chaired the Australian Preventative Health Taskforce, which introduced plain packaging. In 2015-2017 he moved to Malawi to assist in their MPH program. He focuses on teaching leadership and management skills and minimising the massive harm that unhealthy industries inflict on our health. He was awarded an AM in 2014 and he led the Lancet series on the Commercial Determinants of Health published in March 2023

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Shanna Whan

Shanna Whan is the rural woman, founder, CEO, and face behind SITC (Sober in the Country Ltd charity). She is an Australian of the Year recipient who decided to ''do what she could to be part of the change'' after overcoming her own lifelong battle with trauma-linked alcohol addiction and almost losing her own life in 2015. 

SITC is a grassroots not-for-profit leading radical change and social impact across rural Australia by changing the narrative around booze in the bush through straight talk, powerful lived experience advocacy, and the #OK2SAYNO movement. Far from being prohibitionist - the charity focuses on straight talk, peer support, social inclusion, and the #OK2SAYNO movement.

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Professor Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths has worked in the drug field for over 30 years. Prior to 1999, he worked as a researcher based at the National Addiction Centre in London. Since 2000, his activities have focused on the international monitoring of drug use, working first for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in Vienna, (UNODC), and subsequently, for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Paul joined the EMCDDA in 2002, as head of the epidemiology unit and was appointed Scientific Director in 2010. In his current role, he is responsible for the overall coordination of the EMCDDA scientific work. He holds an honorary position as a Visiting Senior Lecturer in the Department of Addictions, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

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Dr Rachel Sutherland 

Dr Rachel Sutherland (BSocSc (Crim) Hons, PhD) is a Research Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales and currently holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Fellowship (2021-2025). Her program of research is focused on monitoring systems for detecting trends in illicit drug use, including new psychoactive substances, and developing and evaluating novel responses to emerging drugs of concern. Rachel is currently Deputy Program Lead for Drug Trends, and Program Lead of the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) and Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS). 


Associate Professor Amy Peacock

Dr Amy Peacock (BA Hons, PhD) is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, and an Adjunct Researcher in the School of Medicine, University of Tasmania. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council Emerging Leadership Fellow. Amy is currently the Program Lead for Drug Trends, comprising the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS), National Illicit Drug Indicators Program (NIDIP) and the Drug and New Technologies (DNeT) projects. Amy also currently coordinates the Australian Parental Supply of Alcohol Longitudinal Study.

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Dr Alys Havard 

Dr Alys Havard is a Senior Research Fellow based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the School of Population Health, UNSW Sydney. 

Her research uses linked administrative data to improve our understanding of how medicines are used at a population-level, and their safety and effectiveness in real-world settings. She leads two main streams of research; one focuses on smoking cessation pharmacotherapies and the other on medicine use and safety during pregnancy.

Professor Hayden McRobbie

Professor Hayden McRobbie is a health behaviour change expert with a special interest in tobacco and obesity. He is a Professor at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia, and a Consultant in Lifestyle Medicine at Lakes District Health Board, New Zealand. He is also a Fellow of The Australasian Society for Lifestyle Medicine and serves on the editorial boards of Addiction and Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

In the last decade, Hayden has played a key role in Tobacco Control in New Zealand and over the past 3 years has acted as the Clinical Champion in Child Obesity for the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Professional development points: 

Certificates of attendance are available for the 2023 NDARC Annual Research Symposium on request from ndarc.communications@unsw.edu.au. Attendees must liaise with their supervisor or appropriate industry body to confirm that the event is eligible towards continuing professional development hours.


All posters this year can be accessed online:


Poster Presentations | Session #1 (10:25 - 10:40)

  • Jane Akhurst: Engagement with drug alerts among people who use drugs in Australia: Awareness of and responses to current alerts, and preferences for future alerts
  • Olivia Price: Sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted infections among people who inject drugs: a systematic review
  • Bethany Grice: E-cigarette Use among Australian Women of Reproductive Age
  • Baillee Farah: ‘Kicked out’: The lived experiences of Sydney’s nightlife eviction policies


Poster Presentations | Session #2 (11:00 - 11:15)

  • Wing See Yuen: Alcohol-related behaviours, beliefs, and knowledge regarding cancer risk related to alcohol in the New South Wales LGBTQ+ community.
  • Emily Deans: Feasibility and acceptability of a psychoeducation program for clients with complex support needs’
  • Toni Karlsson: Experiences of stigma whilst visiting healthcare services among two sentinel samples of people who use drugs in Australia, 2022-2023
  • Liam Acheson: Participant experiences in a pilot study for methamphetamine withdrawal treatment: implications for retention