Following the tradition of SMART Recovery staff, particularly facilitator trainers, running their own voluntary SMART Recovery groups in the community, Area Coordinator (VIC, TAS, SA) David Hunt has launched his own meeting in Richmond, Victoria.
SMART Recovery National Program Coordinator, Josette Freeman, ran the first ever SMART Recovery meetings that launched ten years ago at St. Vincent’s Hospital drug and alcohol unit, in Sydney, and has also run a weekly SMART meeting on the North Shore since 2012.
David Hunt joined SMART Recovery Australia in May 2014, and is the Area Coordinator for SMART Recovery for the ‘southern states’ of Australia (South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria). Since moving from London to Australia in 2009 he has worked in a combination of clinical and research roles in mental health (Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre) and Alcohol and Other Drugs (The Burnet Institute, Odyssey House Victoria).
David delivers the facilitator training in his states, and is the SMART Recovery staff representative on the Research Advisory Committee (RAC), which has the exciting responsibility of leaning more about the program and keeping it up to date. It took moving to the other side of the world for David to truly appreciate the joys of travelling, and another of the many great things about this role is the opportunity to get to see different parts of Australia. He’s also very much into his film and music, and can become extremely boring when talking about his favourite directors and bands. David is the only member of the SMART team based in Melbourne, where he has been indoctrinated into coffee snobbery, but remains largely baffled by the rules of AFL.
What do you like most about the SMART Recovery program?
David: There is so much about the SMART Recovery program that I like. The commitment to evidence-based practice and the non-judgmental and inclusive take on recovery are all really important. However, what I think is most unique about the SMART Recovery program is how collaborative it is. It’s simple, practical and direct approach offers peers and professionals a way to work together and learn from each other.
Tell us about your group
David: My SMART Recovery group is now running every Wednesday afternoon from 2.30pm to 4pm at North Richmond Community Health Centre (NRCHC: 23 Lennox Street, Richmond, Victoria). It is being run in conjunction with the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) team at the health centre.
What organisation does it run out of? Who are they? Do their services compliment SMART. If so, how?
David: The AOD team at NRCHC run outreach clinical services in the area, and those who know Melbourne a bit will know that this is an area that is home to lot of people with very complex needs. NRCHC is also a key harm minimisation location in Melbourne, and staff manage a busy needle syringe program (NSP) on site every day. Like SMART Recovery they’re totally committed to a non-judgmental approach to addiction and substance use with the human being, not the drug use itself, their main concern.
Who is the co-facilitator?
David: I am very lucky to have 2 co-facilitators helping me run my group there! Both will bring some invaluable knowledge and experience to the group. One is Amelia Berg, who works at the Needle Syringe Program, the other is Kasey Elmore, an outreach AOD clinician.
What do you like most about running a group?
David: Having been working with facilitators for a while I’m very excited about getting out there and putting the SMART Recovery program into place. Witnessing people come together as a group to help each other, and seeing individuals find that change is possible is so rewarding. Given the area and the clients who access services there there’s likely to be a real diversity of challenges, something that should suit the SMART program really well!
What do you see as being some key challenges for SMART Facilitators and what are some ways to overcome these?
David: There’s no doubt that it’s not always easy running a group! It’s a big responsibility and I think it can be quite easy to doubt yourself, whether you are helping, doing or saying the right thing etc. I think it’s can be really helpful to remember that, as the facilitator, you are the reason that the group is there, that people have come together to help each other. Your job is not to ‘fix’ people, and unfortunately it’s really not possible even if you wanted to! By being there, by giving people the platform to talk, to share and to think, you are doing so much for your community.