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Acknowledgment of country

The Lives of Substance team acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands throughout Australia on which the research behind this website was conducted. We acknowledge their continuing connection to lands, waters and culture, and value their unique contribution to the wider Australian society.

Team & Thanks

This website is based on qualitative research conducted in Australia by researchers from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia, Monash University and the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH). The research was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP140100996). NDRI is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvements Grants Fund, with additional research funding coming from a range of national and international sources. CSRH is supported by a grant from the Australian Department of Health. Professor Suzanne Fraser is funded by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT120100215).

The project was conducted using what is known as the ‘DIPEx method’, developed by the Health Experiences Research Group in the Department of Primary Care Health Services at the University of Oxford, UK. Our staff received training and support from Healthtalk Australia.


Project Investigators

Suzanne Fraser

Adjunct Professor Suzanne Fraser Suzanne was Principal Chief Investigator and oversaw the conduct of the project. She guided the development of research materials, oversaw participant recruitment and interviewing, led the analysis and write-up of results, guided the preparation of website content and supervised the project staff.

Renata Kokanovic

Professor Renata Kokanovic Renata was a Chief Investigator on the project. She guided the implementation of the project’s methodology, contributed to data analysis, provided input into the development of website materials, supervised the research assistant and contributed to the write-up of results.

David Moore

Adjunct Professor David Moore David was a Chief Investigator on the project. He provided input into the development of research and website materials, advised on participant recruitment and interviewing, and contributed to analysis and the write-up of results.

Carla Treloar

Professor Carla Treloar Carla was a Chief Investigator on the project. She provided input into the development of research and website materials, contributed to identifying key topics for the website, and contributed to data analysis and preparation of publications.

Adrian Dunlop

Dr Adrian Dunlop Adrian was a Partner Investigator on the project and acted as key advisor on the accuracy of all information on the website. His extensive experience in addiction medicine also informed data analysis and development of the website materials.

Project Staff

Kiran Pienaar

Dr Kiran Pienaar Kiran coordinated the project, conducted interviews and data analysis, and led the writing of the topics and stories for this website.

Ella Dilkes-Frayne

Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne Ella provided research assistance and administrative support to the project including conducting interviews and writing selected stories and topics for this website.

Advisory panel

Ms Nicky Bath
Formerly Chief Executive Officer, NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA), New South Wales, Australia

Ms Colleen Blums
President, Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia (DANA), Western Australia, Australia

Mr Danny Jeffcote
Program Manager AOD Response West, cohealth, Victoria, Australia

Ms Debbie Kaplan
Manager, Clinical Policy, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Centre for Population Health, NSW Ministry of Health, New South Wales, Australia

Ms Anna Keato
Senior Policy Officer, Prevention Policy and Research, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria, Australia

Ms Jenny Kelsall
Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV), Victoria, Australia

Ms Edita Kennedy
Project Worker, Association of Participating Service Users (APSU), Victoria, Australia

Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch
Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong
Executive Officer, Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA)

Mr Brad Pearce
Formerly Program Manager, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA), Victoria, Australia

Ms Julie Rae
Head of Information and Research, Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), Victoria, Australia

Professor Ann Roche
Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University, South Australia, Australia

Mr Robert Stirling
Deputy CEO, Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies (NADA), New South Wales, Australia


Sincere thanks to the people who took part in this research for generously sharing their stories.

Thanks also go to:

Australian author Kate Holden, who introduced the website.

the members of the advisory panel for their valuable input, including advice on the topics featured on this website and recruitment of participants.

Jennifer Harland for acting as the alternate panel representative from Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia and Roland Jauernig for acting as the panel representative for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services during the first half of the project.

the many people and organisations who assisted with participant recruitment, including colleagues and friends: Australian Community Support Organisation Bendigo; Bendigo Community Health Service; Bendigo District and Aboriginal Collective; Andrew Bruun and Dom Ennis (YSAS); CoHealth; The Buttery; James Dale (ReWired, Victorian AIDS Council); Happy High Herbs Nimbin; Headspace Lismore; Roland Jauernig (cohealth); Emily Lenton (LaTrobe University); Mullumbimby Community Health; Nimbin Community Centre; Nimbin Hemp Embassy; Nungkari Treatment Centre; NSW Users and AIDS Association; The Salvation Army Bendigo Bridge Programme; Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre; Tropical Fruits Inc.; Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre; Waverley Drug and Alcohol Centre; WHOS New Beginnings;; and

members of the project’s online community, who assisted with recruitment and gave input and feedback throughout the project.

Jeanne Ellard and Jamee Newland who conducted some of the interviews, and Aly Hiles who transcribed them.

Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, and Danny Jeffcote at Inner Space (North Yarra Community Health), who provided rooms for conducting interviews.

Justine Sloane-Lees who advised on casting for the video re-enactments.

John Jacobs for audio and video clip production and assistance with the video re-enactments.

Healthtalk Australia researchers Kate Johnston-Ataata, Nicholas Hill and Audrey Statham, based at Monash University, for training, advice and support.

Leading Hand Design who designed and built the website.

Video re-enactment cast

We thank the actors represented by Real People who played the roles listed below:

Participant Actor
Anika Charlotte Thornley
Artemis Chad Drever
Dean Benjamin Clegg
Ethan Steve Williams
Grace Michelle McNamara
Helen Desi Leary
Jim Taylor Smith-Morvell
Kate Charlie Allan
Lala Anna Levene
Lucy Nyssa Lock
Melanie Sylvia Roberts
Pauline Anand Khushi
Rachel Mim M
Scarlett Erica Tan
Sean Craig Cremin
Ted Sam Mooney
Tiffany Jessica Borg
Zac Nick Foley
Zadie Claire Dempsey
Zoe Zoë Amanda Wilson

This website is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP140100996).