2019 was a huge year for SMART Recovery Australia. Our growing community has helped more people than ever before realise their potential and overcome addictive behaviours.
Over the past year, we have accomplished some amazing things.
2019 started with SMART Recovery Australia’s Chairperson Anthony Wales AM becoming a recipient of the Order of Australia on Australia Day. This was for his longstanding commitment to SMART Recovery and other charitable pursuits. SRAU has been able to grow and have much more impact due to the generosity and support of the Wales Family.
The SMART Program continues to be utilised by more Australians and New Zealanders every year. There are now 355 weekly meetings, which is an increase of 61 over the 294 groups at the end of 2018. This represents over 2,000 people attending weekly meetings. We grew our online meetings, and now have 5 each week. We successfully launched online facilitator training to supplement the premium face-to-face training, ensuring that there are no barriers because cost or locality. We are pleased that a weekly meeting for family and friends has commenced in Surry Hills, New South Wales to add to the number of meetings of our award winning family and friends program. A manual for family and friends was produced this year as a self-help book for people affected by the addictive behaviour of someone close to them.
An ever-increasing number of organisations are recognising the impact that SMART has on people’s lives. Many are embedding the program into their own service delivery. SMART Recovery Australia is grateful for this recognition and for these important partnerships. We acknowledge the special qualities and commitment of all SMART facilitators, especially SMART Peer facilitators and those who volunteer to run SMART meetings.
The SRAU Board and staff achieved two big pieces of work this year. A new three-year strategic plan was developed and approved with a new vision of “SMART Recovery is accessible and relevant to all”. The plan has 3 strategic pillars:
- Program Delivery and Participation
- Sustainable Revenue Growth
Like any for purpose organisation, SMART Recovery Australia must become more entrepreneurial in order to prosper and ensure the powerful strength-based SMART program reaches as many Australians as possible. In 2020 we are introducing a subscription fee for all organisations that have, or want to, embed SMART groups into their service delivery. This small fee will ensure SMART Recovery Australia can continually improve the SMART program and the support we offer to facilitators, research and develop new products, and maintain no fee for SMART participants.
The Research Advisory Committee continues to increase their impact on SMART with the level of research they are undertaking to provide further evidence of the benefits of the program, and also new ways of delivery.
The ground breaking 2-year Routine Outcome Monitoring & Feedback App study funded through the Alcohol and Other Drugs Early Intervention Innovation Fund from NSW Health has been successfully completed. The University of Wollongong conducted a survey of SMART facilitators and participants studying group cohesion and session impact. We look forward to the findings of the research in 2020.
The Research Advisory Committee has also received funds from National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) to examine current use and potential future use of SMART Recovery for people using methamphetamine (commonly known as the illicit drug ‘Ice’), and the impact of Be SMART on families impacted by methamphetamines. The Hunter Medical Research Institute has funded a pilot study of engaging young people in SMART.
This year saw the establishment of an Ambassador program to assist SMART lifting our profile amongst government, in the media, to funders and within communities. We are honoured to have recruited author Mary K. Pershall, journalist Katie Horneshaw and Mick Palmer AO, APM, former Federal Police Commissioner. All of them advocates for harm reduction and sensible drug law reform.
SMART Recovery Australia has become a partner of the Uniting Church Fair Treatment Campaign. We made a submission to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ and is disappointed the government continues to ignore experts and evidence including the NSW Coroner on pill testing. SRAU has deep concern that the proposed religious freedom bill will enhance stigma and discrimination towards people with addictive behaviours and become a barrier for them seeking help and making positive changes in their lives.
Numerous SRAU Board, staff and Research Advisory Committee members are contributing to the development of SMART Recovery International. There are now close to 3,500 weekly SMART meetings in 25 countries which represents significant and fast growth.
It is a privilege to be surrounded by such talented and committed people that make up the SMART Recovery Australia team that includes the Board, staff, research advisory committee, ambassadors and SMART facilitators. It is however the SMART participants’ stories that inspire and motivate the shared vision for the organisation. A particular story that has inspired me this year is of a young man who had been convicted of aggravated battery, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and abusing toxic vapors. He now runs SMART Recovery meetings and doing research in the field.
Wishing everyone a peaceful, fun and loving break. Looking forward to 2020 where we will continue strengthening SMART Recovery Australia and the positive impact of the SMART Recovery program.
Ryan McGlaughlin, Executive Director