Insights from the Australian Winter School Conference

Recently, Everymind Suicide Prevention Project Officer, Clare Jones attended the 31st Australian Winter School Conference; a leading national alcohol and other drugs (AOD) conference on behalf of the Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs project.

On behalf of the Mindframe team at Everymind, we would like to congratulate and thank the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (QNADA) and Lives Lived Well for a successful and thought-provoking conference.

This years’ opening address from Chief Executive Officer of QNADA, Rebecca Lang, set the scene by encouraging safe and appropriate use of language throughout the two-day conference. Attendees were encouraged from the onset to consider what certain language and terminology says about a person who uses alcohol and/or other drugs and how this language can reduce stigma in the community.

“Not once did I hear stigmatising terms or language being used at the conference. It was great to be amongst leaders and influencers championing respectful and person-centred language.” said Clare Jones.

Mr Jeff Bukley, Director at Insight: Centre for AOD Training and Workforce Development was the MC of the conference, which seamlessly allowed an array of presentations to flow through.
Streams focused on adult treatment, young people, lived experience, connecting care and treatment. Through these and the keynotes there was opportunity for the diverse range of attendees to explore, as Rebecca put it, ‘the grey areas in a space that is often seen as black and white ’.

The conference highlighted the complexities of AOD use and treatment amongst various population groups, the excellent services that exist and the importance of broadening the media and community discussion of AOD.

Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs is a strategy to support the media and other stakeholders to communicate safely, respectfully and responsibly about alcohol and other drugs (AOD).

This evidence-informed project aims to reduce stigma associated with AOD use, increase help-seeking behaviour in people who may require treatment or support, and minimise harm. Guidelines to support this communication are available on the website here and the team will be commencing training stakeholders by 2020.

To quote the Queensland Mental Health Commissioners, Ivan Frkovic, from his keynote address “everybody is a leader in their own right”. We all have a sphere of influence and the Mindframe for Alcohol for Other Drugs project team look forward to sharing their knowledge with communicators, and aim to continue to learn from lived experiences persons and experts in the AOD sector.

We look forward to Winter School 2021 and sharing more updates from our project.

The National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline is a free and confidential service for advice about AOD. The line will direct callers to the AOD Information Service in their state or territory and offer support, information, counselling and referral to services. You may call the hotline at 1800 250 015.

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