It is important for us to acknowledge the hundreds of SMART Recovery facilitators and third party organisations that see the importance of SMART Recovery for their participants. We particularly are grateful to those that volunteer their valuable time to run SMART groups in your local community. You are the small champions of SMART Recovery.
We are also grateful for our participants who change their lives. We acknowledge the incredible bravery of people who publicly share their personal stories of their addiction, despite still facing significant stigma and discrimination. This stigma is felt through government policy, every day in the media and popular culture, and too often in our everyday lives and interactions.
We want to begin by acknowledging our team & SMART community for their resilience, agility and maturity they have shown in 2020. This has been a unique and challenging year, in the face of which SMART Recovery Australia prospered.
This was no better demonstrated when we first went into lockdown and the team worked tirelessly to support the transition of many face-to-face meetings to online. This was rewarded by SMART Recovery Australia receiving our first Australian Government grant to build online capability and capacity. It was important that we did grow and that we did go online – as we only see growing need for our effective and proven SMART programs. COVID-19 and online meetings have made the SMART program more accessible to some, however we recognise that for others it has made their participation more difficult.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were over 350 SMART meetings running across Australia and New Zealand every week. When the pandemic hit, we worked tirelessly to transition these to online meetings. We were successful in lobbying the Australian government for funds to build the capability and capacity of SMART Online, and we are grateful for the support of the NSW Cross-Party Parliamentary Harm Minimisation Roundtable (Mehreen Faruqi, MLC, from The Greens; Alex Greenwich, MP, Independent member for Sydney; Jo Haylen, MP, Labor member for Summer Hill, and Hon. Shayne Mallard), Jenny Leong, NSW MP for Newtown, Trent Zimmerman Federal MP for North Sydney, NADA, Dr Peter Kelly and Mick Palmer. We are currently supporting 80 online SMART meetings.
We also saw the successful completion of a 2 year feasibility study into Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) plus feedback funded by NSW Ministry of Health, which involved the development of SMART Track App that is now available on Google Play and the Apple store. The app allows users to log their urges, set goals, track their progress and access helpful resources. This successful study in conjunction with the University of Wollongong and GHO Sydney led to updates of the cutting-edge up to date app currently available to the public.
Smart Track is an extension of SMART Recovery Australia’s program of weekly in-person and online group meetings, where people with any form of addictive behaviour — drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, food, shopping, the Internet and more — can seek help.
We piloted the SMART InsideOut prison program with our long term partners Palmerston, and Wungening Aboriginal Consortium who have been appointed AOD service provider of Solid Steps Alcohol and Other Drug Recovery Program in Casuarina, Western Australia’s first drug treatment prison for men, which opened in October.
Dr Liz Dale is a Worimi woman completing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Wollongong. Her thesis focuses on understanding the cultural suitability and helpfulness of SMART recovery for Indigenous Australians. Through collaborations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SMART facilitators and group members, Liz’s research will deliver practical recommendations regarding the most culturally appropriate way to deliver SMART Recovery groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants. The team at SMART is super excited that Liz’s work will inform better ways of working with Aboriginal facilitators and participants.
We also piloted the SMART Family & Friends Facilitator training online program in addition to spearheading a SMART Family & Friends pilot study which you can sign up for here.
We are currently running our end of year appeal in support of our Family & Friends program. The SMART Family & Friends program helps those whose loved ones are facing addiction by improving their quality of life, coping skills, and support system. You can support our end of year campaign by clicking here, and donating to our SMART Family & Friends program.
Critical to any success we have is our highly valued network of SMART facilitators. In 2020 we provided fortnightly facilitator support webinars as well as SMART Recovery International global SMART facilitator support webinars facilitated by our own Josette Freeman, reaching SMART facilitators all over the world.
In order to improve our relationship with and resources for our facilitators, we are currently engaging in a wide-ranging data audit. If you are running a meeting and haven’t told us about it, you can help out by taking 5 minutes to fill out this survey.
In such a challenging year, it has often felt like the only constant is change. This rings true for SMART Recovery Australia as we sort of bid goodbye to several key members of our broader team. Tony Wales AM, longtime and inaugural Chair of the Board, will be stepping down, as are Ruth Campbell and Jennifer Johannesen. Tony will become the Patron of the organisation and remain Treasurer of SMART Recovery International, and Jennifer will remain Secretary of SMART Recovery International. Ruth will remain an advisor on HR matters. We thank them sincerely for their years of tireless support and service to SRAU and our community. They have played a significant role in developing the solid foundation of the organisation today. We welcome new board members, Scott Beachley, James Legge, James Carr, Tory Loudon, & Brett Savill, our incoming Chair. We are confident that with their stewardship and guidance the organisation will increase its social impact.
Josette Freeman, our Senior National Program Manager and the inaugural employee of SRAU in 2007, after over a decade of faithful service in SMART Recovery Australia will be retiring at the end of 2020. It’s no exaggeration to say that without Josette, there would have been no SMART Recovery in Australia. She has dedicated and sacrificed family time for the better part of the past fifteen years to our organisation. The organisation is indebted for her tenacity and passion to see the SMART program delivered locally, nationally and internationally. Josette has agreed to become a volunteer SMART Recovery Australia Ambassador in 2021.
Stigma also has a significant impact on the loved ones of a person with addictive behaviours, as they can too often be judged as not being a good parent, or partner, or sibling.
The World Health Organisation recognises that addictions are among the most stigmatised health conditions.
With the current debate about drug law reform becoming more vocal, there is a real need to shift the discourse away from the criminality of drug use – to a health and wellbeing concern. As a community we need to understand the underlying causes that create these problematic behaviours. There needs to be change – as stigma is a significant barrier to seeking help and making positive change. SMART Recovery is committed to supporting advocacy and action to address stigma. SRAU is a partner of both the Uniting Fair Treatment and ReThink Addiction Campaigns.
SRAU looks forward to the challenges that the new decade will present us, secure in the knowledge that our team, and our SMART community, will meet and overcome anything we may face. Once again, an enormous thank you to you all. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and end of year, and look forward to working together again in 2021 and the years beyond.