Dr Mieke Snijder from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney has been awarded a prestigious Early Career Research Award in the 2018 Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand for service to mental health.
Dr Snijder, a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use (CREMS), received the award in recognition of her research program to improve social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal youth.
Dr Snijder’s research is innovative in its participatory approach, rigorous design and creative methodology. It aims to empower and reduce alcohol and drug related harms experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
“The only way we can do this successfully is by working in close partnership with Aboriginal communities, organisations and individuals,” said Dr Snijder.
As part of her PhD at NDARC (supervised by Deputy Director, Professor Anthony Shakeshaft), Dr Snijder successfully worked with Aboriginal communities to develop, implement and evaluate a community-based program, reaching between 1,000-2,000 people. The program was developed in close partnership with three Aboriginal communities in regional NSW and led to measurable reductions in alcohol-related harms and improvements in community safety and empowerment.
More recently, as part of the CREMS team, she has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous secondary students in NSW and Queensland on a number of initiatives aimed at giving a voice to young people through photographs and stories.
These stories are informing the development of a computerised, culturally inclusive school-based drug prevention program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health for Year 7 and 8 students: .
“It was inspiring to hear so many young people talk about the ways they draw strength from their communities,” said Dr Snijder.
The Award was announced on Wednesday, 29 August at the Annual TheMHS Conference in Adelaide, South Australia. It was presented to Dr Snijder by Ms Nicolle Flint MP, Member for Boothby, representing The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health.
The Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand are presented every year by TheMHS Learning Network to recognise and encourage best practice, excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery. The Awards have been held annually since 1992.
TheMHS Conference is the largest mental health and addiction services conference in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. TheMHS aims to promote positive attitudes about mental health and mental illness, and to stimulate debate that challenges the boundaries of knowledge and ideas about mental health care.
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